The Weight We Carry

Nope, this isn’t an article about post-thanksgiving weight management strategies (I may be Canadian, but we celebrate American thanksgiving which meant this was a weekend of family and food for us!).

Rather, it’s a note about the stories we tell ourselves; the stories we hold on to; the stories we assume without question to be true.

I was hit by this today as I was giving a radio interview this morning.  The backstory (are you starting to clue into the fact that there’s always a backstory with me?????) is this: Since my surgery, I have been very involved with the University Health Network, and specifically, the Brian Campaign at Toronto Western Hospital.  You see, the surgeon that removed my tumour is the top surgeon in his field.  In the world.  He in fact travels the world teaching other neurosurgeons how to perform a type of endo-nasal surgery to remove skull base tumours that eliminates the need for full crainiotomies (this is especially important in the developing world where there simply aren’t the resources for things like anesthesia to keep patients asleep for 12 hours like i had to be for my surgery – unfortunately my tumour was too large and complex for this type of surgery, so I had to have the full craniotomy).  And by raising money through the Brain Campaign and the other fundraising campaigns at the hospital, we can be assured that there will also be surgeons like mine at the hospital, ready to help us, in addition to helping these doctors with the amazing research that they are doing.  As today is Giving Tuesday, Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals were having a radio-thon today on Classical 96.3fm and I was asked to come and share my story on air.

The first question the interviewers asked me had to do with how I felt about my initial diagnosis.  With tears in my eyes (I’ve been told you could hear my voice crack a bit), I recounted just how hard it was to sit in a doctor’s office with a four month old baby sitting in a bucket car seat at your feet while being told you have a brain tumour.  But as I was talking, I looked up, and could see my beautiful four year old daughter skipping around the atrium (the radio-thon was held in the main atrium of Toronto General Hospital).  And then I looked to my son who was proudly sitting beside his dad, the Husband, smiling and giving me the thumbs up.


Where am I going with this exactly?  Well, while I have been slowly letting go of how the tumour affected me, I’ve NEVER been able to let go of how the tumour affected my family.  I had to wean my baby when she was just four months so I could be ready for surgery; I spent over four months planning for the worst while trying to parent (those weren’t the best of times), and I had to leave my kids for a few days while I had the surgery and recovered in hospital.  And then there was the recovery at home after . . .

I have been holding onto these stories, these thoughts in my head for so long (well, four years to be exact); that somehow, I, through this journey, had caused irreparable damage (that’s maybe too strong a word, but it’s definitely how I’ve felt at times) to my kids, my family.

But today I realized, I have been carrying the weight of this for far too long.  My kids were perfectly happy today; and so was the Husband.  What we all went through wasn’t fun by any means.  It was a brutal phase in our lives that we have gotten through.  And there will be more unpleasant and nasty times in our lives that we will have to go through again as time marches on.

But we got through it.

We’re all better people for it.

And carrying around the weight of the thoughts that damage had somehow been done through that time in our lives was . . . well . . . that’s just carrying around a whole lot of dead weight.

And so . . . we all have difficult times that we have to get through.  Be kind to yourself when you’re going through them, and know that you will come out stronger.  And if someone you know is going through a tough time, support them and show them love and kindness; if you can, help to share their load, or unburden them of any dead weight that they might be carrying.

And of course, if you can, please remember to donate to the charity that is nearest and dearest to your heart, as it is Giving Tuesday.  (and if you’re looking for a cause, here’s a great one . . . please help support my fundraising efforts for the Brain Campaign)!


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