Wednesday 8 October 2014


Did you know that in the City of Winnipeg, street parking is $1.00 per hour near Red River Community College's downtown campus, but is $2.00 per hour near the McDermot entrance to CancerCare Manitoba? 

This is only one example of increased expenses cancer patients face during the greatest battle of their lives. The number of hours a cancer patient spends getting tested, seeing their doctor(s) and getting treatment adds up fast - as do the expenses.

Cancer Crossing is mobilizing to help with these expenses! Our initial seed fund is in place (we could use more donations - please help our cause!), our e-book is close to ready and we are putting together a team that will be developing the criteria for patients to access funds to assist with their expenses.

We are working hard which is why our posts are few and far between but big things are coming! Stay tuned and thank you from Cancer Crossing for your continued support!

Thursday 8 May 2014


In honour of Mother's Day this weekend, we have a guest post from Erica. Erica lost her mom Lynn, on April 22, 2009. Lynn was 49. Erica, now 28, was in her early twenties at the time of her mother's passing. Shown here in the photo is Lynn. Erica did not title her post but we think she will be okay with us titling it, 'MISSING MOM'.

If you have ever had the misfortune of losing someone close to you, then you will have undoubtedly heard the practically reflex response from well-meaning sympathizers:  "Time heals all wounds."  A little over five years ago, I lost my mother suddenly and unexpectedly, and I have spent the subsequent years focusing my energy toward healing the gaping wound in my soul.  Or so I thought.  If depression threatened to overcome my mood, I banished the emotions until I could properly deal with them.  I reminisced with family and friends, remembering both the good and the bad times.  I cried judiciously but never overindulged, and I did as the psychology textbooks suggested by working through the varying stages of grief.  In fact, my armchair mental health self-assessment was that of recovery.  With each passing day, I felt like I had taken one more step to finally being okay—or as okay as was possible—that she was gone.  I made terms with not being able to see her again, and I understood that I could not let her death define my life. 

Why then did the fifth anniversary of her passing followed shortly thereafter by Mother's Day cause me to spin into a practically uncontrollable state of depression, denial, and pain?  After five years, shouldn't time have started healing those wounds?  Instead, these past weeks have been nearly as painful as the first weeks following her death, and I struggled to understand why.

By nature, I am a rational person who scrutinizes problems and makes decisions based on logical reasoning, but what I came to understand this year is that grief is not a solvable problem.  There are no simple series of actions which you can employ to fix it.  Grief is raw.  It leaves you racked with exhaustion and sorrow, helpless and alone.  It can come on suddenly or slowly build, but grief will find you.  There is nothing you can do to hide from it, to stop it, or to solve it.  As my mom liked to say:  "It is what it is." 

The depression and anxiety slapped me hard across the face this year, and I was forced to deal with emotions I had not felt in a long time.  Grief forced me to stop reasoning my way out of it.  It would not permit me to distract myself, nor would it let me escape without breathlessly sobbing, not the choked back, restrained tears I allowed myself in the past.  This year, grief wanted something more from me, and I had to give up control and indulge.

Coinciding with my breakdown was the first year I had to work on the anniversary of her death.  Usually, I could take the day off, but I co-own an up-and-coming lingerie boutique in North Carolina.  Without my presence at the store, we need to close our doors, a sacrifice in sales I cannot justify.  As a result, I put on my best fake smile, played upbeat music all day, and generally found whatever tasks would keep me the busiest and less able to reflect on the loss.  

Ironically, working actually allowed my grief and denial to gain access to my emotions.  You see, without my mom, there would be no store, and I was keenly aware of her presence, or non-presence as the case may be.  Her spirit infuses the business as much as if she worked in the shop alongside me, and working that day allowed me to contemplate the ways in which she prepared me for life and for the challenges I would face. 
My mom did not take any backtalk or excuses from my brother and me, and she instituted firm but fair rules for us to follow.  When adolescent rebellion threatened my studies, she grounded me and explained that she had no problem with me earning a “C” in a subject provided I truly earned it.  “If you worked hard and really tried, and the best you could do was C, then I would be very proud of you.”  Failure was not only acceptable but a necessary part of learning and growing up according to my mom, but only if we had given our all in the attempt.  She never approved of “coasting by” with the bare minimum, and her encouragement to strive for excellence drives the mission of my business.   Because her dedication and passion rubbed off on me over the years, I do not strive to own an average bra shop nor do I strive to own a wildly successful one if it comes at the cost of our core values.

Despite her encouragement and sometimes prodding, my mom was not afraid to step to the sidelines and let us experience life independent of her protection.  In a touching letter I still posses, she told me she would always be there for me, “two steps behind and a little to the left.”  She wanted to give us the skills we needed to succeed on our own and the confidence to chase after our dreams.  What is my business if not a dream realized?

Her friendship and loving support was not limited to her family either.  My mom never met a stranger.  She was warm, kind, and welcoming to everyone, and she would help others in any way she could—a trait she instilled in my brother and me.  She allowed us to be selfish in moderation since taking time for yourself is important too, but she wanted us to look beyond ourselves and think of how our decisions, how our actions, and how our words impacted others. 

But, her wisdom expanded into the practical realm as well.  We watched decorating shows together all the time, and she was a whiz with the sewing machine.  She could change the entire look of a room with a $50 budget, so when we (Edit Note: 'we' being Erica and her business associates, as she opened her lingerie boutique after Lynn's passing) began upfitting the store, we searched for bargains, made our own furniture, and opted for a bolder color on the walls to inject some fun into the space.  When she was alive, we engaged in our own projects on more than one occasion from refinishing a jewelry cabinet to repainting the house.

Memories and feelings I had denied myself access to came barreling back no matter how hard I fought them, and I had no choice but to finally allow myself to feel the loss.  What I realized after so many years of waging an aggressive war with my grief was that it's okay.  To grieve is not to be weak.  Grief is normal and healthy, and there is no shame in not being able to wholly move on or to fully heal.  As much as we may wish that time could erase all of the pain and heartache we suffer, it can't.  Time can mitigate a lot of things, perhaps to an extent grief is one of them, but we shouldn't be made to feel that after an arbitrary amount of time, the wound will heal or that it even can heal for that matter.  Grief is what it is, and accepting that has made me more at peace with her passing—not healed and not recovered but accepting.

To close, I want to say something I never said enough to my mom when she was a live:  "Thank you for believing in me and raising me to be the person I am."  I will forever in debt be to the woman who loved her children above anyone or anything else in this world, and I wish with my whole heart that you could be here to see what we have built and share the experience.  You are my inspiration, and I will forever look two steps behind and a little to the left hoping you’ll be there.

Tuesday 6 May 2014


Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who has been donating to 'Cancer Crossing'!

Any and all donations received are going directly to our patient fund. Our e-book (still in production) has been funded through other means so please know that all your donations will be going to cancer patients.

Please remember that we are unable to give tax receipts for your support however, any donation over $50 will get you a mention in our book. The following are the levels of support for mention in the book:

$50.00 - $100.00 'Holding Hands'
$101.00 - $500.00 'Giving a Hug'
$501.00 - $1,000.00 'Shall we Dance?'
$1,001.00 - $5,000.00 'Ride in the Country'
$5,001.00 + 'Ray of Sunlight' (Those in the 'Ray of Sunlight' category get a page at the front of the book for their own advertising/message etc...)

Of course donations of any value are graciously accepted.

You can donate in two ways:
You can click on the Donate button on the left hand side of this page where you can support 'Cancer Crossing' through PayPal.

If you prefer, can you send a cheque payable to 'Cancer Crossing' to:
1-1660 Kenaston Blvd
PO Box 70029 Kenaston PO
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3P 0X6

If you have not seen the video clip from our 'e-book Pre-launch event' in March, click on the link in the post below.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Thursday 27 February 2014


We are pleased to announce the Cancer Crossing e-book Pre-launch Exhibition’.  This Exhibition can be seen at the Blankstein Gallery, 2nd Floor, Winnipeg’s Millennium Library from March 1-31, 2014.  The Gallery is open during regular library hours. 

On display will be a selection of enlarged photos, complete with messages from a cross section of Cancer Crossing project participants.   This Exhibition lifts our project out of social media (where it has spent its infancy) and brings it to you in the heart of Winnipeg.  Come on down, view our photos and take in the messages, we promise you will be inspired to reshape your view of the world, and how you live in it.

Monday 24 February 2014


Cancer Crossing will be having its first public event!  More details to follow!

Monday 3 February 2014


We've all heard the phrase ' Mind over Matter'.  Basically it's a 'mental reach' to cope with a challenging  circumstance.  Some people are true believers in this.  No matter how you phrase it, it's a matter of convincing yourself your situation is not as dire as it may seem, or may actually be. 

We spoke with 'Yamli' who does not wish to be identifiable in her photo.  She is a young woman who recently experienced breast cancer.  She had a breast cancer that was large enough to be felt.  She had a mastectomy, reconstruction and a prolonged period of treatment.  
Prior to her diagnosis she was working on her PhD and held down three part time jobs. 
Her stamina during treatment and recovery wasn't enough to keep working all the jobs and the work required to continue to complete her PhD, but she did work on research papers.  

She kept on telling herself that breast cancer can be cured, so she will be cured.  She counted down the treatments like she was counting down weeks to a vacation.  She didn't tell her family that lives overseas that she was dealing with cancer, she relied on her boyfriend. 

Says Yamli, "I always put a lot of stress on myself and I always want to do everything perfect all the time. I don’t think the cancer has caused me to lower my standards. Everyone always reminds me that I have to put my health first – but it is hard to change a person’s personality."

Can you 'Mind over Matter' Cancer?  There is no answer to that.  In Yamli's case, she decided to take chemotherapy.  Yamli is well today.   Did the chemo alone do the work or did her 'Mind over Matter' attitude allow the chemo to be effective?  No one can say.  There are cases where the chemo does not work.  There are no full answers on why that is either. 
Yamli experienced the many and varied side effects of treatment but continued her mantra that breast cancer can be cured, so she will be cured.  Steadfast in her belief, she continued down the path she knew she had to walk. 

Only you can decide what your approach to cancer will be.  It's a very personal decision.  There is no right or wrong way, there is only 'your way'.  A cancer diagnosis feels like the ultimate loss of control.  The only way you will be able to feel content with the journey is if you can sit back and say, 'I did it my way'.  It was almost 50 years ago that Frank Sinatra sang those words.  It's a tune still played today because it speaks of empowerment.  Everyone likes to feel empowered, there are so many things in life that challenge your will.  Whether you are a cancer patient or simply someone reading this post, do you have a problem that is challenging your will at this time?  Remember to try and see all options available to you to cope and move forward.  Mind over Matter is just one of the many tools for you to consider while you figure out a way to deal with your issue, 'your way'.

HAPPY 2014!!

Happy 2014 everyone!! If you have wondered what happened to the folks at Cancer Crossing, we are here! Our team has been hard at work and we are nearing the completion of our e-book - we will have some exciting news very soon, so please stay tuned!

We have some new posts coming as well - you can look forward to some thought provoking issues from our ongoing patient interviews. Thank you everyone for your continued support!