Happy New Year !

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy New Year! (and Merry Belated Christmas….. oops, a bit slow in getting this out this year). Hope you had a great Holiday break.

I’m sitting at a hockey rink overlooking my son Graham’s hockey practice. Graham, age 13, has suffered three mild concussions in the last 6 months – and this is his first practice back with the team. The first one happened at the cottage while skating backwards on in-line skates. The second, while trying to get past a very large defenseman at a hockey tournament six weeks ago – and the third in hockey practice, three weeks ago, in which the coach was trying to teach the forwards how to forecheck – and Graham played the dutiful guinea pig. Since then he has had grumbling headaches- though we can take solace in the fact he got 100% on his math test a few days after the hit.

The worry about how/when Graham will recover is probably the one outlying stress in my life. I hope he doesn’t have to give up hockey too early because he absolutely loves it. He loves the competition. He loves training. He loves setting a goal for himself.

(Frankly, I hope he doesn’t have to give it up because of the joy it has brought my life. I love being outside shooting shots in the driveway with him, and playing keep-way on the front yard rink. And the rink is just a make-work project, an excuse to get outside and putter).

I guess I’m just mourning the loss of his childhood and the fun we have had together. Though, the flip side of mourning the losses we experience each day is that we can appreciate the life we do have that much more.

Heading the list is family.

I’m really happy for Jeremy, now in grade 11, who has finally hit his stride. He transferred from a private school to the ‘IB’ program in the public system. My impression is the IB teachers are amongst the best in public school and given the volume and difficulty of the material the kids are expected to master (the physics they covered in first two months matches what the advanced ‘non-IB’ physics class will cover in 2 years), Jeremy’s classmates are often as serious about school as he is. (Frankly, I’m jealous of the quality of education he’s receiving).

More than the academics, Jeremy has made some great friends in the larger school. Gabbie, a true friend, just adores him. She took him shopping yesterday to spruce up his wardrobe. I’m happy because she is very bright and very hard-working (which I’m hoping will rub off on Jeremy).

Jer still hosts the ‘improv’ club (2 guys, 2 girls) at our house every week or so. They may not do any improv games – but they watch youtube clips, play games, and have lots and lots of laughs. Again, I’m jealous – way more fun than I ever had in High School.

To fill out a very busy life, Jer is still taking voice lessons with Paula (yet another wonderful person in his life) and is singing in both the high school and regional choir (visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKl1Znn3J54&list=UUBopEbN5Cjz49OMJMA9J7UQ&index=1&feature=plcp to see a Christmas concert song). He loves singing and his choir mates are great people.

Jer got his driver’s licence (he’s a very good driver– cautious and natural ability – and a similar likelihood of drinking to excess as his father ie 0%)

Jer got his black belt in Karate – a test he did I front of about 80 people. I was very proud of him – he’s persisted through four years of training – partly because I go with him, and partly because he likes one of the girls in the class.

Jer and I are also going to the gym together. This started with Jer saying he didn’t know what to do in a weight room –and would like to learn before going to university. So I hired a personal trainer in the early fall who taught us a basic program which we’ve been following about three times a week. For me, it’s yet another opportunity to spend some time with him – at 16, there’s not much advice that he’ll take from me, but the snippets of conversation we have going to and from the gym are the best I get all week.

Cara is her perennial great self – she’s still working from home (mostly the books for my company/ our household). Graham is stuck resting these last few days and Cara is in reading books, and playing audiobooks for him. She is the master organizer of holidays – including our scuba vacation a year ago and the family bike tour in France this past summer. (Gee, so much happens in a single year, it’s hard to convey the fullness of this life). Of France, I can say it was a good thing we were biking 40-60km per day to make up for our daily consumption of 5000 calories of French pastries and fine dining. It was absolutely beautiful and peaceful – and especially enjoyable as sister Lou and family joined us there.

In my other worlds – as a Radiation Oncologist and as the leader of a charity www.healingandcancer.org – all is well. As much as I love support groups and speaking in public I think I would miss the direct patient contact if I quit my day-job. It’s just a very concrete way of helping people. I think Radiation Oncologists are a very satisfied group because the results of the treatment (like lessening of pain) are dramatic and often persistent. I am so fortunate to be paid for what I love to do. (Lovely 9min video on radiation oncology that I help produce this year: visit http://vimeo.com/32336225)

My charity work has been challenging (ie leading an organization while having so much work and family responsibility) and we’re hoping to raise some major funds to sustain our work for the next few years - please say a prayer for me. I do believe that persistence will pay dividends eventually – For instance I gave a webcast ( visit http://vimeo.com/33700823 ) on ‘complete prostate cancer care: how to integrate the best of conventional and complementary medicine’ which was viewed live by 127 computers/people across Canada in early December. And we just found out that we received a $63K grant from the Atlantic chapter of Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to create an 8DVD set, 45min documentary, and short public service announcement – from the footage of an upcoming retreat for women affected by breast cancer. For more of what’s going happening on this front visit www.twitter.com/healingncancer

So life is fulfilling for me now. And this I hope from deep in my heart for you this year and beyond.

Lots of love to you and yours.


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