Tuesday, August 7, 2018


This post was started several weeks ago but not completed.  I had just started writing again about the second major stressor in our lives when summer sailing with Dick again delayed it. Somehow I pushed the publish button without realizing it. When a friend emailed me yesterday about its contents I was surprised of course, especially because where it left off,  readers may have misunderstood. My apologies to any of you who read the unfinished blog post. I could have simply deleted it but feel that it is better completed.

Many blog posts have been written in my head since I last wrote. The past 14 months have been a period of transition. I like to think that I handle change well and so I expect others to do the same. Looking back, even before June of last year transition had begun. Before I explain this transition I want to talk about stress. We all know that there are some important events in life that create more stress than others.

The top five most stressful life events in no particular order include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Moving
  • Major illness or injury
  • Job loss

There are other stressful events like marriage or the birth of a child but they are generally considered happy events. Most often, no matter which event we face, with time and/or personal or professional intervention, the stress may ease and in fact resolve.

For us, two of those five life events converged. Who knew back in January, 2017 when I bought our house in Victoria that cancer would reappear in my life soon after we moved? When I say "I" in buying the house rather than we is because Dick was in New Zealand having just crossed the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean. We had been discussing a move to Victoria since the previous April and Dick had been gone for some months prior to that. Over those months I had not found the house that I thought would suit us but in early January the stars aligned, at least for me and I found the house of my dreams. Looking back, even though Dick agreed via Skype that we could buy the house, his heart was really not in it. Soon after the purchase and well before our move I spent two months in New Zealand with Dick. Near the end of that time the discussion of bringing Van Kedisi home came up. For me, the purchase of the house and the idea that our boat which have been like a family cottage for many years in Turkey would be in British Columbia made me feel the happiest I had felt in a very long time.

Little was I to know that this happiness would be fleeting especially for Dick. It took time for our Vancouver house to sell and that added stress. Yes, another facet of one of those most stressful life events~~moving. But eventually the house did sell. I had never loved that house and for most of our children's lives we did not live in it because we were in Indonesia or Saudi Arabia. However on our return from Saudi Arabia Dick invested hundreds of hours of renovations in it and did a great job. Over those years though I thought that we both had agreed that the work done was cheap and cheerful and that in five years or so we would move. Unfortunately neither of us really understood what we had said and it turns out that Dick's preference would have been to have live there for ever and die in fact in the house  just as Walter next door did. How can two people have been together for decades get it so wrong? And who is to blame?

For those of you who have been following my breast-cancer blog you maybe wondering why I am talking about the sale of our home in Vancouver and our move to Victoria. We now come to the second major life stress~~cancer, and worse~~metastatic breast cancer inoperable and incurable. When I went to Nepal in late April 2017 to lead my last trek, I had no idea that cancer was growing but I knew that I was slower, older and it was time to stop leading treks, thus I called that trek my swan song. I am glad for that as it meant I ended my time working in the Himalaya with Razzu on my own rather than cancer forcing it.

Back to the stressful move. No one knew that a new tumour was insidiously growing~~possibly for as long ago as when the first cancer was detected. Since we did not know when buying our new house and selling the old one that I would find I had metastatic cancer, we'll never know if staying in Vancouver would have been a better option.

Once we had moved in late June of last year it was becoming evident that something was wrong. Surgery had been done to remove my implants and I had hoped the growing pain in my right arm and hand would disappear at the same time. This is old news yes but it fits in with the second stressor, which fits under "major illness or injury." As the summer dragged on, my husband was unhappy and uncommunicative and there was nothing I nor anyone else could do to alleviate his pain. I went back and forth to Vancouver for tests yet we barely talked about the possibility of cancer reappearing. It was a very difficult and lonely time for both of us. When the diagnosis came in late August we were already burdened with such high levels of stress that I am sometimes surprised that we were able to continue on. Looking back, I believe that all the work we had put into our relationship in the preceding few years of living with cancer made the difference. It was not as though a light went on and we went from unhappiness to happiness but we did carry on with the plans that we had made for Dick to return to New Zealand to bring the boat home.

Here, this post ends and the next one will begin with the return of Dick and crew along with yet more difficult news. However,  I am happy to say that enduring more cancer and a move has not brought us down and we are well on the way up, readying ourselves for the next chapter of our lives.

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