The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

And Other Stories


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Happy Birthday to You…

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(Photo courtesy of Michele’s birthday in 2015)

…Mummy!  I know that it may be awhile before you read this, but the sentiment will keep.  If I ever had any doubt about the type of person that you are (which I never have), the outpouring of love and affection from your family, friends, doctors (who else can charm the uncharmable into loading them up with pastries) and even the people who work in your building are a lesson to me on how to live a good life.  Whenever people talk about you to me, it’s always about how wonderful you are, what an inspiration you are, how sweet, and how you never complain.  It’s all true (except you, sweet?  Please.).

I’ve seen first hand your triumphs and your challenges.  Your triumphs are usually winning a bet with me like our Super Bowl bet.  In my defence, I know nothing about football, but at least I never welch when it’s time to pay up like some people that I know.   Nothing makes you happier than beating me – luckily for me, I don’t lose often.  Although you may lose the odd bet, you are one of the sharpest people that I know.  You are also quite a little socialite.  Your phone never stops ringing – another testament to how much you are loved by your family and friends.

I admire you for so many reasons, too numerous to count really, but watching you face adversity this last while has really shown me what you are made of.  You never quit, you never give up, and I’ve never been prouder of you.  Whenever I was sick as a child, you would come into my room as I lay in bed, checking on me, taking my temperature, or just trying to comfort me.  You looked down at me, and I looked up at you, reassured that I would feel better soon because you were there to take care of me.  I know that it’s frustrating to now be in a position where the roles are reversed, but I still look up to you.  That won’t change.

You are still the strongest, smartest, funniest woman that I know.  You have a curiosity and interest in so many different things.  You have the best sense of humour.  I’m glad that we still have moments where we can laugh.  I’m grateful to be your daughter, and I’m so grateful to get to celebrate another birthday with you.

 


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My Fearless Challenge AKA The Niagara Falls Nightmare

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Image courtesy of niagaraparks.com

Dr. Oz recently did an episode of his show on conquering fears, which, if you were paying attention, I wrote about a few weeks ago.  This year has been all about conquering fears for me. I’ve gotten my driver’s licence, signed up for driving lessons (starting next month), I’ve confronted the past and made my own type of peace with it, and I’ve decided to take the Canadian Cancer Society’s Fearless Challenge.  I’d like to say that my inspiration for doing this is to help prevent cancer for our future generations, but I’ve had to face another fear this year – my mother’s breast cancer, that had been in remission, had spread to her bones.  The very definition of fearless, my mother delivered the news to me casually over the phone several weeks after she found out.  As I started to cry, she reminded me that she had no intentions of going anywhere.  Then she told me that she had an appointment with an oncologist.  The only fear that she showed was when I decided to tag along with because she knew that it was then that I would find out that she slept through her appointment time the week before.   She thought it was hilarious – me – not so much.

My mother’s sense of humour through all of this has been amazing.  She reminds me daily that she doesn’t just have cancer – she has a life too.  She makes the best of her situation which means having friends over more and going out less.  Cancer is a bit of a roller coaster to say the least, and there have been good days, and bad.  Lately it has been Cancer Schmancer.   It’s there, but it’s not the be all and end all that it would like to be.

Watching the bravest person alive (yes Mummy that’s you) go through this battle inspired me to face my own fears.  Doing the Canadian Cancer Society’s (CCS) Fearless Challenge is my most important project.  When my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, I stayed up nights pouring over websites and getting so much scary information that I didn’t know how to process it all.  I decided to streamline my research to only a couple of sites that I knew to be reputable.  One was the CCS’s cancer.ca.  It had great information and gave me a complete picture of the resources available.  When I went to oncology appointments, I’d pick up CCS booklets.  The more I read, the less scary the disease became and I was finally able to calm myself down enough to sleep at night and to stop pouring over websites.

I did the same thing back in March when I found out that my mother’s cancer had spread.  I read all of the research and resources, but used cancer.ca as my go to.  I picked up more booklets at the hospital and once again, they brought me some semblance of comfort along with my very supportive friends and family.  I’m so grateful to the CCS for having this information available.  They also became a client and that’s when I found out about the Fearless Challenge.  I want to give back by helping raise money for this very worthy charity so here is what I’m committing to.  I’m going to do all of the things that I’ve ever chickened out on in Niagara Falls.  I’m going to (in order of least afraid to most afraid):

  • Go on the Whirlpool Aero Car – I chickened out on this years ago, even though this doesn’t scare me at all now
  • Take a ride on the SkyWheel helping me face my fear of throwing up and getting dizzy.  I have terrible motion sickness – everyone else is afraid of heights, I’m just afraid of barfing at 175 feet above the ground in a closed car
  • Meander through the Butterfly Conservatory – this is the absolute worst thing ever for me!!!!  I hate insects and you can tell me that a Butterfly is beautiful – but it’s just a bug with huge wings that flits everywhere willy nilly.  I’m going to see if Hazmat suit is available for the day.  At the very least, I’m covering myself in black clothing from head to toe and wearing leather gloves even if I have to go on the hottest day of the year.

This is where I do my schlocky sales pitch – please check out and support my Fearless Challenge or sign up for one of your own.  Check out my page and the site for inspiration http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR?fr_id=19672&px=6422179&pg=personal&fb_ref=Default  Help me make cancer a little less scary for others.

Thank you!!!!


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Happy Birthday Barb!

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Yes Blimi, that’s your jacket!

I grew up with 3 older sisters, two, by birth and one by proximity.  I met Barb when I was about 3 years old.  Her parents were my parents closest friends in Sydney, Nova Scotia where we both grew up.  Not being a true Cape Bretoner, unlike my good friend, I didn’t have any family in the Steel City, and Barb and her family, became that.  Even our beloved grandmothers knew each other and had tea together every time they were in town for a visit.  My first memory of Barb is a day that my big sisters took us to see Blackie and Brownie – the friendly, neighbourhood dogs.  That started Barb’s love of animals – especially her gentle giant of a German Shepherd – Kyla.  Ok – maybe just a giant – that dog’s bite was worse than her bark – sorry Babs, but Rascal was the best!  I digress, but even though that was the first time I met Barb – we ended up spending a lot of time together over the years.  From Mrs. Simson’s plays at Hebrew School to Susan Ross’s Dancing School (best show I’ve ever seen in CB), we both got to wear some flashy costumes.

Barb was the one who prepared me for the departure of my sisters when they had to leave me to go to school.  She understood what it was like to be the abandoned, youngest child.  With my sister’s being one year apart, and each being six and five years older, I just got used to one being gone when the next one left.  It was pretty devastating for this baby of the family, but Barb was still going to be there for two years.  She was the one who drove me to school and home again, because my mother just wasn’t a morning person.  She was the one who introduced me to two songs (they were the only songs I heard in her car) – “I’m Your Man” (Wham!) and “How Will I Know” (Whitney Houston).  Sometimes, we did get to hear “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” but it sounds almost identical to “How Will I Know”.  She drove me to GA’s Dairy to get magazines, and she generally just helped me get through a couple of tough years.  Eventually, Barb had to move too, but that didn’t mean that would be the last that I would see of her.  I still got to see Barb during the holidays, but it was a couple of tough years for me without my other sister.

When I moved to Toronto, Barb once again took me under her wing.  She spent a lot of time with me at school and became a fixture in my residence.  She gave me the tough advice that no one ever really wants to hear, but you need to listen to.  She moved me in and out of residence 5 times.  She was the one who checked in on me my first summer living on my own.  She was the one who walked the long halls of Yorkdale from Roots where she worked, to Wishful Thinking where I worked, to make sure that I was doing my job.

Eventually everyone grows up, and sometimes, things change, but Barb and I were tied together because of the deep friendship between her Mom and Dad, and my own Mother.  They all eventually moved here, and once again, the holidays were spent together.  I had the privilege of holding Barb’s twins when they were born.  I loved them from the first time I held them – they were as light as Tom Brady’s footballs.  I’ve watched them grow from adorable, funny little girls to gorgeous,  funny young ladies.  They are still, like my own little nieces even though they too are ready to move on to university.  As time has moved on, Barb and I have drifted here and there, but somehow, like family, we always manage to find our way back to the comfort that you have when you know someone almost as well as you know yourself.  In fact, I think that we are better friends because of it.  I trust Barb to keep my confidence, and I know that she feels the same way.  You can’t put a price on a friendship like that.

We have each had some difficult times over the last few years, but have been there for each other.  It’s brought me so much comfort.   It’s knowing that there is someone in the world who knows your whole history.  It’s knowing that no matter what happens, you’ll always have an extra older sister, but knowing that I may be able to step in and be the same help to Barb that she was to me.  It’s knowing that someone can keep a secret and never hold a grudge.  It’s laughing at the stupid in-jokes that we find so hilarious and that no one else would get (Second Noah).  It’s the interesting way that Barb has of reading and observing people, pointing out things that I would never even notice.  It’s knowing that wherever life may take us, we’ll never be far from each other’s thoughts.

Dr. Oz would approve of this message of gratitude – today, I’m grateful for you, Barb – Happy Birthday to You.  I wish you a lifetime of health and happiness.  I leave you with this reminder – no matter how old I am, you will always be older than me : )

Gratefully yours and with much love,

Jillsy xoxo


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Embracing Emotion

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My grandmother at 18.

In “You Being Beautiful”, Drs. Oz and Roizen write the following: “Our goal here shouldn’t be to ignore emotions when they come up – whether we are reacting painfully to the loss of a loved one…Our goal should be to observe emotions – and learn to think with these emotions to help give our lives even deeper meaning.” (page 321).  Today is the anniversary of my grandmother’s death and it seemed an appropriate time to finally write something all about her so that I’m not ignoring the emotions that I feel.  My eldest sister has asked me for a long time why I don’t write about her.  I think she knows…she is intuitive in a way that very few people are, even if she doesn’t know it herself.  I haven’t written a full entry on my grandmother, because it’s so painful for me to write about her in the past tense that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

In February, I wrote about my grandfather, https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/a-true-gift/ and it was so much easier talking about him, maybe because I lost him at such a young age.  My Bobbi (that’s how she spelled it – some spell it Bubbie – either way, it’s Yiddish for grandmother) was my perfect person, the one that I related to and adored the most.  I can tell you a million reasons why, but probably the biggest reason is that what I got from her was unconditional love.  It was demonstrated in the small things that she did that seemed huge at the time.  It was when my sisters and I would visit her (she lived in Ottawa, we lived in Nova Scotia) and she would light up when she saw us come in the door.  It was the fact that she always made the same welcome lunch when we’d visit – baked macaroni and cheese, just slightly overdone exactly like we liked it, with a pitcher of chocolate milk in the refrigerator and her amazing home made chocolate cake for dessert.  It was knowing that she’d have our favourite cereal that we couldn’t get at home in her cupboard.  It was the way every day that we were there, she had something else baked for us.  You can have your grandparents that spoil you with diamonds, my grandmother spoiled us with love and that was her answer for everything.  I would ask her why everything that she made tasted so good and her answer was always the same, “Because I made it with love.”  And I knew that she did.

When my sisters would go to sleep away camp, I’d get my grandmother all to myself for 7 weeks (well, my mother was there too, but I was #1).  These were some of the best times of my life.  We’d go for walks every day – mostly so that my grandmother could take me for a treat – she was worried that I was too skinny.  Thanks Bobbi – you’ve more than taken care of that childhood problem.  As we would walk by, I’d see her greet her neighbours.  They looked so much older than she did – my Bobbi looked young with hardly any grey in her hair, even though she never dyed it.  I finally had to ask her why all of her friends were senior citizens.  I had never seen her laugh so hard or be so flattered.  She loved telling people that story, because even if I didn’t know it,  she was part of that club.  She was the grandmother who found us all so charming that we could do no wrong in her eyes and in return, in my eyes at least, she was and still is perfect.

Leaving her was so painful for me, or having her leave when she would come for a visit.  I’d sit in her lap, crying inconsolably.  When I got too big for her to hold, she’d give me a big hug and tell me that she had to go because she loved her home.  She would recite a little poem from a ceramic iron that she bought in Bermuda to help me understand “My house is small, no mansion for a millionaire.  But there is room for love and there is room for friends.  That’s all I care.”  I have that iron sitting next to me as I write this entry.  She loved her house, I think, because that was where she spent her married life with my grandfather and she adored him.  She never stopped missing him and her house was where her memories of him were the strongest.  I shouldn’t call it a house though, it was home for all of us.

I could spend all day listing all of the things that she did with me like taking me to the very fancy (at least in my eyes) Green Valley with my great aunt for lunch or playing games with me or just reading to me.  I could tell you how she watched the best TV shows – Wonder Woman, Matt Houston, Charlie’s Angel’s or best of all – The Golden Girls!  We would watch that show and laugh together every single time.  She thought Sophia was a hoot.  I could tell you how she was a lady, and carried herself like royalty.  Even when people see her picture, they think she looks like a queen.  I could tell you that she never had an unkind word for anyone, although I’m sure she felt hurt at times, she never showed it.  I could tell you that her house could pass a white glove test.  I could tell you that even though she was ill at ease around dogs, she would always give my dog a careful little pat of the head – and he was very gentle with her because he could tell how nervous she was.  I could tell you that whenever we’d get up after reading together that she would always give me a hug that my mother would always walk in on and spout “Oh – the pals”.  In her defence, when I was growing up, I had a duo photo frame filled my two favourite people – my Bobbi and my dog.  Stiff competition and I’m sure that must have hurt her feelings.  Sorry Mummy.

I could tell you a million little things about my grandmother but it would never explain how much I miss her every single day.  It would never explain how I would give anything to spend just a little bit of time with her.  It would never explain how even today, so many years after she has gone, I still wish I could hear her say “Jilly, come to Bobbi” when I was crying and how it would make everything better.  It would never explain how much I wish I was more like her but she was in a class by herself.

Today, I am grateful that my Bobbi never had to leave the home that she loved and that she was never so sick that she had to change her life.  The day she died, she went for tea with her friends, visited with her beloved nephew, watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and then felt sick and had to go to the hospital.  She never suffered.  I can’t tell you how grateful that I am that I had her for 17 years of my life.  It was a gift.