Stupid things you do when you’re diagnosed with cancer. (Episode One: Family photos)

on Jan 15, 2016

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Someday, I desire for this little corner of the Internet to be more than what it is. I have big dreams for this baby.

At the moment, it’s a catch-all for my seemingly random firings. Little stories, anecdotes, things that get me thinking. There’s mostly no rhyme or reason to my entries, except that in my daily battle to write and my own pressure to post, every now and then, it’s crap here. Plain and simple.

I admit it.

But, as with my office—which is perennially disorganized with piles of things that forever need “filing” or “sorting”—or my computer photo storage program, which, quite frankly, is a mess, my blog remains at the bottom of a pile of wishful thinking. For now.

However, when my wishful thinking becomes reality, this entry will be filed under the heading: Stupid things you do when you’re diagnosed with cancer.

November 2014. Three weeks post-diagnosis. Email a photographer, because your out-of-town daughter is coming into town for Christmas and you MUST.HAVE.FAMILY.PHOTOS!

Because why?

Because who knows if this is the last time you’ll have hair?

Or see your whole family together?

Or any other number of equally profound thoughts that race through ones’ brain when you hear the C word.

Never mind that my condition is chronic. I’m on the watch and wait program. The prognosis for the type of Leukemia I have is up to 20 years, give or take.


My poor kids. I guess you can lump patient husband into that lot too.


awesome rachel

I tell the older ones that they need to bring a black top or sweater along.



Leah copy

I go out and purchase black tops for my two youngers (because, apparently, we don’t own black).

I purchase colourful scarves for each member of the family.

I have booked and made arrangements with the photographer, asking him to scout locations – including an indoor alternate, if the weather is miserable.

December 29 dawns bright and clear.

And indeed, it is officially the coldest day of the entire year. A bone-chilling -29 degrees Celsius. What is that in Fahrenheit some of you may be scratching your heads wondering? It’s precariously close to the point where Celsius and Fahrenheit meet – something like -21 degrees. Really, it’s too cold.

Yes, I know. You're cold. Too bad. Suck it up. Love, Mom

Yes, I know. You’re cold. Too bad. Suck it up. Love, Mom

The photographer messages and says “Are you sure you want to do this?” and I’m thinking “YES! I HAVE CANCER. MUST HAVE FAMILY PHOTOS!” (Plus, daughter number one hops on a plane and heads back to where she came from sooner rather than later.)

And, in a smaller, slightly less irrational inside voice, I’m also thinking. “We’ll just use the alternate indoor location that the photographer scouted.”

But, he actually didn’t do that.

So I drag my family out into the bitter cold, dressed only in black tops and colourful scarves to endure the most brutally cold photo session of all time.

To be fair, the photographer and his assistant had to be out there as well. And I’m sure it was no picnic for them either (except they were wearing coats and functional scarves.) And, we did jump into our respective cars to thaw from time to time. So there was that.

So, basically, the moral of this story is that my family obviously love me because they went along with this bout of craziness and limited their grumbling to behind my back.

The other moral of the story is that a cancer diagnosis will indeed make you do stupid things.

To be clear, not all of the things I have done in the months since then have left my family to question my sanity. I’m pleased to say that I’ve leveled out and my sense of panic has abated somewhat.

There are definitely more stupid things to share, but these humbling moments need to be doled out sparingly. For my own sake, more than anything.

Thank you so much to Erik McRitchie for enduring my temporary loss of sanity with grace (and gloves).


Our very cold family


My four. I sure love these girls.

My four. I sure love these girls.


In an effort to warm up, Erik suggested the ever popular "coordinated jump."

In an effort to warm up, Erik suggested the ever popular “coordinated jump.”


Leah, however, was having a few problems with the whole concept.  The scarves also did not cooperate.

Leah, however, was having a few problems with the whole concept.
The scarves also did not cooperate.




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