A Few More Thorns on My Roses

After spending a lovely Christmas in Vancouver with some good friends, playing an old childhood game of pickup sticks on Christmas Eve after Wigilia dinner…then flying off to the South of France for an exotic New Year’s and writing retreat in Nice with a fellow writer and traveller from my Waterloo University days…and finally wrapping up the chilly and damp January in Mexico’s brilliantly warm Barra de Navidad near Manzanillo on a group writing retreat with fellow writers and new friends from the Canadian West Coast –

Pickup Sticks 2013 Christmas Eve / Barra de Navidad, Mexico & Nice, France 2014 Writing Retreats

Pickup Sticks 2013 Christmas Eve / Barra de Navidad, Mexico & Nice, France 2014 Writing Retreats

– back in Vancouver, awaiting me, was a most memorable Valentine’s date: one with my plastic surgeon and his visiting fellow from the Netherlands at the UBC hospital day-surgery ward. It was time for the little lump on the inner edge of my left breast – which we had been monitoring with ultrasounds and physical palpations for some months – to come out and get a more thorough examination under the microscope. While we were at it, I suggested that we also reveal the true nature of a more recent addition: a little neighbouring lump just above it. Two weeks later, at the start of my 41st birthday month (which this year turned into seven weeks of birthday!) the verdict was in: both lumps indeed contained an overabundance of my misguided cells, necessitating another round of medical-speak, calling it a “local cancer recurrence”.

A Few More Thorns on My Roses 2014

A Few More Thorns on My Roses 2014

Although the possibility of this outcome was not a complete surprise, the confirmation that a couple more thorns have sprouted on my roses does sink my spirits a notch. This time, the news causes a few tears to shed while skimming through the sneak preview of the results report as I mount my bicycle and head over to my surgeon so that we can discuss this finding in more detail. Feeling mainly disappointed, in that moment I feel once again betrayed by my body: I can’t trust it to move how I want it to or to remain still when I don’t intend to move, because of what they call dystonia; and I can’t trust it to keep my immune system in balance with my malignant cells when I make changes in my life to prevent this from recurring. Those are my initial thoughts of anger and fear; ones which quickly give way, though, to curiosity about what my body is trying to tell me this time. What have I not heard the first time? What more am I ready to hear now? I am more willing to listen this time! I know now that my past experiences are my clues to my future ones.

While my first thoughts had me flying off to France (le pays d’amour) for an extended stay – in order to do something now that I think I would like to do sometime but that realistically I don’t think I would do without having death nipping at my butt – I have since reconsidered for the time-being my plans for finding contentment there, and am staying put in Canada on the West Coast, where I plan to undertake a few treatments and to take the time to nurture myself, while working on finishing my book. A recent visit with good friends in nearby Victoria re-confirmed my current decision. Upon returning, I reflected on having good friends in all sorts of places and on the quote that I saw on my bike ride through a pretty cemetery in Victoria: “Smile, you live in paradise” – and I smiled, and looked about me, and thought to myself: yes, this is a beautiful part of the world.

Cycling and Writing in Paradise in Victoria

Cycling and Writing in Paradise in Victoria

This time last year, I was busily and excitedly starting out on my 3-month Book Writing Tour 2013, landing on June 11 in Paris to begin the European leg of my tour. This year, on that same date (June 11, 2014), I am heading into my next surgery at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital to remove another assembly of overzealous cancer cells. Shortly after, towards the end of June, I will celebrate my 3-year anniversary of working for the Federal Government at Natural Resources Canada, before my latest Term comes to an end. As I wrap up my work there – heartened by exemplary commendation letters and feedback of appreciation – I investigate my financial options, plan my conventional and complementary treatments, and prepare to make space in my brain and in my days to figure out how to transition my life to something that won’t keep trying to express through recurring cancer diagnoses – allowing wherever my book writing may lead to, to reveal itself.

Maggie's Bistro for Work Colleagues at Natural Resources Canada

Maggie’s Bistro for Work Colleagues at Natural Resources Canada

Now that I have broken “the news” to my parents, I share the details of my current circumstance more widely: to invite some renewed concerted good thoughts, well-wishes, and goodwill towards me; to lighten the burden of this knowledge on those already in-the-know (including myself); and to offer my insights on life’s silver linings.

Smiling Gargoyle's Wisdom on Happiness

Smiling Gargoyle’s Wisdom on Happiness

I would be delighted to receive some favourite affirmations to help me embrace my life, misguided cancer cells and all, so that they don’t feel the need to fight me. Some financial and culinary support is always helpful in these circumstances. Always appreciated is the knowledge that the writing I share makes a difference to the lives of others. And any source and sense of humour will be accepted with due consideration, because, as has been said before by someone unknown: “Don’t take life too seriously; no one gets out alive.”

And so, to my list of longer-standing affirmations:

  • Trust Your Own Wings - Believe in Yourself

    Trust Your Own Wings – Believe in Yourself

    “Happiness is NOT having what you want;
    it IS wanting what you have.”

  • “Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie.” (Shakespeare)

I now add a few more:

  • “A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not in the branch, but in her own wings.” (Unknown)
  • “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” (Shakespeare)
  • “No judgement; no problem.” (Maggie)

Wishing you well / Pozdrawiam / Je vous souhaite bien !
Maggie / Malgosia
– living life alive – Maggie’s Way

P.S. I reserve the right to change my mind, any time, about any thing 🙂

13 thoughts on “A Few More Thorns on My Roses

  1. Dear Ma?gosia,
    I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve hit another bump in an already bumpy road. I am glad to hear however, that your spirits are up and that you are, as always, a wonderful role model of how we should all aspire to live our lives….and that is pursuing our dreams.
    Wishing you happiness and good health!!! If anyone can overcome these obstacles it’s you!!
    Keep us posted on your life’s adventures!
    Kasia & Family xox

    • Dear Kasia,
      Thank you & the Family for your well-wishes, and for your lovely words and reflections. Enjoy your new addition to your life’s adventures, too!

  2. Hi Maggie, thanks for sharing this difficult news. I’m sorry to hear about it. I’m sending you loving healing thoughts and vibes your way, directed to the misguided cells. Hey cells, stop messing around with my friend!

    Stay brave, keep sharing, keep the love and hope up. You are an inspiration to us all Maggie.

    Love, Ees

    PS: feel free to call me anytime if want/need anything: 778.960.5337

    • Hey Ees,
      Receiving your thoughts & vibes with a big smile 🙂 Thank you for giving my misguided cells some tough TLC talking-to! I appreciate your sentiments and fondly recall our dinner together the “last time” 🙂
      All the best and keep innovating – your apparent fearlessness is wind for my sails!

  3. Malgosia,

    I am sending positive vibes, strength and energy your way.

    To post on your quote wall:

    “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
    -Franklin D. Roosevelt

    All my love,

    • I LOVE that quote. Realising that there is always something one can do has been one of the silver linings of my experiences of the last 5 or so years.

      Love you … and do have a good rest of your day = make a knot of it, if nothing else 🙂

      Gosia 🙂

  4. Dear Malgosia,

    I am so sorry that you have to deal with this. I know that you WILL overcome this temporary setback. “One of the greatest acts of courage is to stand up, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward.” You are one of the most courageous women I know, not to mention a very talented writer…..soon to be an author of a bestseller! I pray for you every day Malgosia. God Bless you.


    • Thank you, Dear Janka, for your faith in me…and in my talents 🙂 I have often wondered where does all my courage come from, and more and more I realise that it is nurtured by the courage of those around me. I am grateful that you are always there for me.

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  6. Dear Maggie, I know you will get through this and your bubbly view on life will guide and support you through.

    As quotes seem to be popular, I searched for best “life quotes of all time” and read through them. Many were good, and a lot seemed versed for the “man” vs the “woman” or “unisex.” I had to throw out the non unisex ones. I chose this one from Friedrich Nietzsche from the late 1800’s: “What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliest loneliness, and say, ‘This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned and you with it, dust of the dust!’ Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, ‘Never have I heard anything more divine’?”

    Get well soon!!!
    Love Trev

    • Thank you very much, T, for your unwavering belief in me. I was quite touched by this quote, and by your choice of it, as it definitely is one of the deepest thoughts from you 🙂 Thank you for so eloquently reflecting to me the path that I have chosen for my life. And with it, I am also reminded of my stroll and picnic on Nietzsche’s footpath in Eze, near Nice, earlier this year – a trip likewise inspired by you 🙂

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