Category Archives: My Thoughts as a Cancer Mama

The Struggle is Real, even Nine Years Later…

Griffin waiting before surgery

Back in January of 2012, my son Griffin started his radiation treatments to his face. Now, nine years later, we are once again dealing with the side effects of this treatment. Don’t get me wrong, these treatments and many others saved my son from Rhabdomyosarcoma when he was only two years old. But now, at 11, he is dealing with health issues that no little boy should ever have to think about, never mind go through. 

As his mum, I go through waves of anger, doubt, peace and sadness. I’m mad that although we won his battle, it sometimes doesn’t feel like we won the war. Like, these little side effects will harass us for the rest of his life. I doubt myself that I made the right decisions with his care. But in my heart, I know that we are so lucky to still have him, we came so close to losing him. I should be so thankful and happy. But it’s hard. It is so fucking hard. Watching your child in pain, watching your child struggle, watching your child grow up “different”, it’s hard. 

It is extra frustrating when “muggles” (non cancer people) don’t understand that even though the chemo has stopped, the battle is not necessarily over. There is a very big possibility Griffin will not be able to have children, that he will be diagnosed with cancer again before the age of 50, and that he will be diagnosed with at least one major chronic condition related to his cancer treatments. 

The struggle is real. The struggle is not over. The struggle will follow him for his entire life. But the struggle makes him stronger. The struggle makes the good times even sweeter. The struggle showed us who our friends are, what our blessings are and taught us the most important lesson of all…you cannot ever let cancer win. Ever. 

Waking up, groggy and mad about the IV
A little Among Us gamer time!

Lessons Learned from 2020

Griffin- Rhabdomyosarcoma Survivor

Happy New Year! Welcome 2021!

Wow, so 2020 was a rough one. 

Just to start, my son Griffin was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma in his eye orbit at the age of 22 months waaaay back in 2011. He is now 10 years old and continues to be cancer free. 

When the lockdown first began, in March of 2020, I was excited to have a week or two off over March break with my son. I figured we would get some down time together, watch a couple of movies, maybe do some light renos around the house. But as the lockdown continued, my world started to shrink and the flashbacks of cancer isolation started to fill my thoughts. Back in 2011, we had to put ourselves in isolation in order to keep Griffin safe. We didn’t go to stores or the spa, we didn’t visit or chill. If we did go anywhere, we wore a mask. I remember people looking at us like we had three heads in a pharmacy once. I just wanted to wear a sign on my back that explained all of this so the staring would stop. 

So as the lockdown came upon us in 2020, the PTSD of Griffin’s cancer fight came creeping back. First it affected my dreams, I would dream that his cancer is back or covid gave him cancer or the like. Then I just started feeling very isolated in my own home, just like when Griffin was sick. I wasn’t alone but I felt very alone. 

I had been working at my job for the past 16 years. I had to take time off when Griffin was sick and we were laid off during the pandemic as the government shut our workplace down as non essitial. I valued my work highly and without working, I felt very useless. I’m not one to enjoy being on government assistance. I like earning my own money and enjoying what I earned. It was very hard for me to wrap my head around that I was now suddenly unemployed. I now had to start job searching…are resumes still a thing? How does one look for jobs? Who is going to hire an old lady like me??? My depression took hold at this point. It was very hard to apply for job after job with zero response. Or go to interviews and hear nothing back. I felt like a failure, who was past her prime but at the same time, I refused to take a job for minimum wage or work in a field I was not excited about. I knew this was going to be an uphill battle, I just wasn’t sure if I was ready for the fight or even wanting to fight? At this point I just wanted to curl up in a ball on my bed and never come out. 

Once summer hit and the restrictions were lifted a little bit, my parents joined our bubble. It gave us somewhere to go every day. A reason to get out of bed and get dressed. It got me out of my depressive funk and back into being a functioning adult. My mother is quite good at amusing us and there was always something to do. From swimming in the neighbours pool, to making garden gazing balls or tea on the back patio, to raising butterflies and releasing back into the wild. We started making masks which we gave out to our local community and cancer networks for free. It was something small but it gave back to the fight. It gave me a job. It didn’t pay but it made my mind busy and kept me above water! (To date we have given away over 1500 masks!)

I was amazed at the change and growth that 2020 brought to us! People learned how to garden again, they took the time and love to foster animals and complete new DIY projects that they never had time for before. It brought back intimate home cooked dinners and family game nights. It brought campfires in the back yard and hikes in the woods. It brought a rise of homeschooling and reading to your kids. It sold out of bikes and home gym equipment. It inspired us to learn new hobbies, skills, crafts. We helped our neighbours, our communities and reached out to family and friends virtually. We found new ways to communicate, celebrate and remember. It gave us time to slow down…literally smell the roses and enjoy what we actually have. Yes, we had to sacrifice some things like international travel and cruises  but look at all we gained! LOOK AT IT! It is up to us to find that silver lining in this whole situation. 

I learned that you can make your circumstances what they are. You can look at your quarantine time as a punishment or you can make it a blessing. Our time fighting cancer has shown that our family is strong and that I am strong. I am not defined by my profession but I am defined by what I choose to do. I feel blessed that I have had this year at home with my healthy son and my loving husband and we are able to have the time to slow down and appreciate what we do actually have and not focus on what we are missing. 

Stay healthy, stay safe, stay positive! 

Hospital Tips for Parents with Sick Children

Welcome to the wonderful world of Children’s Hospitals filled with sick children. Please wash your hands.

Here are some tips to survive this so-called fun Hospital life:

The basics

If something is in the room, it should serve at least 2 if not 3 functions. There is very limited space for storage in a small hospital room, even worse if you are in a shared room. So everything there must have a purpose, the more, the merrier! For example, we would bring 3 or 4 quilts (kid sized) that wonderful crafty ladies would donate to the hospital. We LOVED these quilts! Not only do they brighten up the room but they kept my kid warm! They could also be rolled up and used to prop up a sore leg, or head or whatever, They could also be thrown over the top of the crib (or just one side) to stop light from coming into the crib during nap time. They also could stop drafts of cold air if the A/C was up too high. They were also good for cushions when my son barfed on his car seat and I had to take the cover off and we still had to drive home! The possibilities were endless with these quilts! They are super durable (easy to wash, multiple times a week) And they still adorn Griffin’s bed today at home! :)

We did the same thing with pillowcases! We were given these wonderful bright pillowcases from a local quilting shop. At first I didn’t know what to do with them…well…they became my MUST HAVE item in the hospital room. From toy bag, to barf bag, to spill cloths to blankie in a pinch. (think sleeping bag in the stroller!) These were WONDERFUL! Plus, it brought a little bit of home. A familiar bright orange and lime green fish pillowcase always made him smile!

Then there are the little things like books! If you pack all different sizes of books, they do not pack well together, but if you stick to a certain size, like 8″x11″ for example, they will pack nicely and always look neat and tidy. Also a larger book like that can be used as a snack tray in the bed, or a table for guests to eat on their knees! Need to write a note? Hey! Now its a desk! And think board books (or something durable like that) Something you can disinfect or clean puke off of!

Same with people. This is not a social club, there are SICK CHILDREN trying to get better. If you are not here to help, get out. Visit in the lounge! I know this sounds harsh but in shared room, visitors get in the way, spread germs and annoy neighbours! Young children have odd nap times, older children can get embarrassed, no matter the reason, so hang out somewhere else!!!

Colour (yes, I’m Canadian, we spell it with a U, lol)

Our Children’s hospital rooms were very…blank. I couldn’t stand the white and the beige, it made me feel sick just thinking about it! So we brought several things to brighten the room, but also had to serve at least 2 other purposes to be allowed in the room (limited space) See above, multi uses for quilts, and pillowcases. But things like crafts serve as an activity and a distraction, but can also be hung off of an IV pole or stuck on the door to brighten someone’s day! Think like a child, add colour and life to the hospital room. It can’t hurt!!!


Please keep a journal or notepad in your child’s room. Quite often, I would be out (going pee or foraging for food) and a specialist would come in looking for me. My husband would struggle over the name. Ummmm, it was Doctor…uh…it could have started with an H? A journal means you can keep track of who comes in, new information for other family members, if meds were given on time, what doses and properly (you would be surprised how badly this went wrong for us! Please ask the nurse what is going in the IV and how much!) Also you can track how your child is progressing. The doctors would ask if his eye is more swollen than it was on Thursday…uh…I can’t even remember what it looked like yesterday! Keeping a journal of symptoms, when things happen (when was your child brought into the ER? When did that surgery happen? Who was the surgeon?) etc. It will help you in the end! TRUST ME!


Good food in a hospital is like water in the desert. Its worth gold, its expensive and its hard to find!!! Bring your own. Most hospitals have a place for you to store food. Use it. Bring veggies. They are the most expensive and usually in the worst shape (wilted and old or covered in chemicals…yuck) I thought at one point I would get scurvy from lack of fruits and veg! Bring as much “survival” food as possible, like granola bars, trail mix, rice cakes, soups in a cup, juice boxes, crackers etc. Munchies that are good on the stomach too. Chemo makes the belly upset (as does stress) so we as a family needed non-spicy, belly friendly snacks a lot.


Yes, you are an amazing Mum but everyone needs help sometimes. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of SMARTS! Ask your Clinic nurse for tips and tricks, ask your social worker for additional funding programs

Find your Cancer Hobby

Find Your Cancer Hobby!

Rainbow Blanket

For pretty much my entire childhood my Grandmother would try to teach me how to knit. I remember spending hours upon hours in her basement, frustrated to be kept indoors while the boys were outside playing. I thought knitting sucked and hated it. Fast forward 20 (cough..cough…or so?) years and my 22 month old son was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma. My world was flipped upside down…as I stumbled through life, trying desperately to grab anything that felt “normal” I tried knitting again in the hospital as my son slept off the chemo. My skills with two needles is severely lacking, I had trouble keeping the proper tension as my life would shift from high to low in a heartbeat. My grandmother now suffers from dementia and I never learned how to cast off so the never ending scarf is approx. 12 feet long. It is as shapely as a curvy lady with a magnificent hourglass figure. Not very desired in the fibre arts, but it’s my chemo scarf and it’s hideous but I wouldn’t change it for the world. My stress was taken out on those stitches. The hours ticked by as my needles clicked together. That sound still reminds me of my grandmother.

Fast forward two years, my son is cancer free and recovering wonderfully! And I, as a Cancer Mama was not. I suffered from depression, PTSD and survivors guilt. I was trying very hard at keeping afloat but having serious trouble with sleep and “thinking” about things. I would lie awake at night haunted by what I had seen, the other cancer kids we had lost and how I could possibly be happy when other kids are suffering.

One day I woke up and thought to myself, I’m wasting my time, if I’m going to be awake, I might as well be DOING something! I ordered myself a set of cheap crochet hooks and some (horrid) yarn on line determined to teach myself how to crochet. I figured I could stay up all night crocheting chemo hats for the kids at the clinic. At least my suffering would be of use!!!

That one little decision changed my world!

My Survivor Griffin dropping off the hats my crochet group made! Spreading the love!

Cutest little baby hat ever!

Now, a year later, I am a full blown crochet addict! And proud of it! I have started a crochet group in my hometown as people from all walks of life gather to gab and learn. My stress is pretty much nonexistent now as I know my hook and yarn will be there for me. If I’m feeling anxious at the doctor’s office? I whip out the good ol’ yarn bag. People young and old ask me what I’m doing, what I’m making, I make friends wherever I go! It opens up the line of communication and brings awareness to childhood cancer as I tell them I’m making chemo hats for the kids.




Road Trip Crochet!

Stressed out by scanxiety while travelling to your hospital? Crochet a granny square style blanket to keep a chemo patient warm in those chemo chairs! My husband calls it road trip crochet! (Not while you are driving of course! Yikes!)



Crochet seems to me anyway, easier than knitting and I am able to give someone something that I made with my own hands and with love. When I hand over a blanket, I know it took me hours and hours to make. I hope they love it as much as I do. It’s like giving someone a homemade hug they can take home!




Yarn friends are odd friends! Mary and I doing a little retail therapy before her surgery!

But the most important lesson of all? You have the power to change your life. You really, seriously do. Yes, I know crochet sounds ridiculous. But find your hobby, find your love, painting, sewing, pottery, tattooing or gardening, whatever makes your heart sing! And make some amazing friends along the way!