Model for a day?….Say whaaaaaat?!

Hello there, friends!

This is just a post to let you know what has been going on in my life over the last little while.

So, yes…first of all, I am very much alive. I know some of you begin to panic if you don’t hear from me somewhat regularly. No worries, I am doing my thing. Whatever that means.

As far as cancer world is concerned, there are a few updates. I have begun a new treatment to add to the high dose vitamin c and mistletoe.  We decided to kick it up a notch and try to outsmart the cancer, or at least attempt to stay a few steps ahead of it. Darn cancer cells are clever little buggers! So we will see how it goes.  I am hoping to write a post about this soon.

I have also had to come to terms with some devastating news regarding a friend of mine from the cancer clinic I attend. This has troubled me over the last couple of weeks and I am still reeling from the impact it has left on me. I will not do her justice to mention it briefly in this post, so I would like to dedicate a future post to her. Warning  is that it may be sappy and a tearjerker,  but this is a cancer blog after all, so it cannot always be rosy. Though knowing her, she would want me to keep true to my blog and sprinkle some humour here and there. I will try.

However, this post is about the small bursts of sunshine clouded by metastatic cancer.  On a happier note, there are some fun things going on too. I guess you can call it living it up with metastatic cancer.

So for something awesome, are you guys ready? No, unfortunately I am not cancer free yet, that would have been way too amazing. But for the second best thing, I have been chosen by Elle Canada, you know Canada’s top fashion magazine, yeah them, as the 2016 Wellspring model winner!

So what does this mean, you might ask?

Well, it means that I will be featured in a photo shoot for the magazine. Yup, I will be getting all pampered and glammed up as part of my ‘model for a day’ experience. And as if that isn’t fantabulous enough, I will also be gracing the runway in February for the 2016 Well Dressed For Spring Fashion Show. The show will be hosted on February 24th in colloboration with Holt Renfrew and Women in Capital Markets at the Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street.

We will be kicking some cancer a@s in stilettos!

If you guys would like to purchase tickets to the event (and you should cuz it’s a great cause), check out the link here. Or if you would simply like to see me to do my best at walking without falling and breaking my neck, well that’s a pretty good reason too! The choice is yours.

There are some other projects on the horizon as well for me, but you will just have to stay tuned in for those. Oh, come on, that’s enough excitement for one day!

And so folks, that concludes my blog for the day. Please stay posted for more to come.

Ciao for now.

Love, health, and fashion!
Xo

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Cancer Diary Series

Hello Loyal Readers,

Hope you are all fantabulous!

I have been suffering from a nasty cold, you know the kind where just when you think you are on the road to good health, WHAM, the next day you feel worse. Yes, one of those! However, having a miserable cold means that I am alive, so that’s pretty cool in and of itself.

You know you have metastatic cancer when having the influenza virus becomes cool.  

Anyway, given this is a cancer blog, you know I am not writing today to share my battle with the common cold. It’s just a cold people, that’s it. Actually, part of me thinks having this cold is forcing my immune system to kick it up a notch. I am weird, what can I say?

I am going to keep this blog short, which is very unusual for me. I tend to be rather wordy. The reason for this update is to let you guys know that Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has released a four part series on my cancer journey. It’s a diary of a five-time cancer survivor. It includes four YouTube videos, as well as a written segment that will be featured each week on the UHN (University Health Network) site starting with Part 1 released today and concluding with Part 4 on the last Thursday in November. However, all four videos will be on YouTube for your viewing pleasure, in case you are addicted and just can’t get enough.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre will be releasing this series on various social media platforms as well. The Mayor of Toronto, Mr. John Tory, mentioned me on his Twitter account today. I know, right! 

I’m not so sure I would cut it as an actress, but that’s okay because I wouldn’t be playing myself on the big screen anyway. I’m still thinking Natalie Portman will play me and Chris Hemsworth would make an awesome Garrett.

Hope you guys and gals enjoy the series, and feel free to pass it on to help raise much needed awareness.

Here is the you tube link for the video in part one, as well as the link to the UHN written segment in part one.

http://youtu.be/2ChDsojKPpM

http://www.uhn.ca/corporate/News/Pages/dear_cancer_part_one_diary_of_five_time_cancer_survivor.aspx

Love, health, and YouTube!

xoxo Sabrina

The “cancer club” and finding purpose

Hello loyal followers!

I would like to start off by giving a big THANK YOU to each and every one of you for taking the time to read my posts, follow my blog, and join me on this crazy cancer journey. It is truly an honour and I am very appreciative of your support 🙂

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I always get super excited to see new followers or visitors from across the globe stop by. Perhaps they landed on the wrong site, but either way, it’s very cool. I had someone visit from Estonia! Wow, right?

Like most individuals with cancer, initially I started this blog as a means to update my friends and family on my crazy adventures living while trying to defeat metastatic cancer. Due to the positive feedback that I am receiving, I decided that I would like to further the mission of this blog. Ultimately, I would love for this blog to serve as an instrument to spread awareness, advocate for change, and inspire others on their own cancer journeys and in life.

Given that I think of myself as a “cancer veteran,” I not only unfortunately have too much information to share on the subject, but I also feel strongly about supporting, encouraging, and inspiring others as they struggle to find meaning, purpose, and strength in their lives.

It’s been a while since I’ve written and that’s not for lack of words, as I still have so much to say. It’s also not because I don’t want to, as this blog keeps me focused and gives me a strong sense of purpose. And I miss you guys.

So why you might ask have I been MIA (missing in action)?

Well, because there has been quite a bit going on.

With regards to my health, there is not much to update at the moment. I had a neck MRI done on Friday, so am awaiting those results. You guys recall that nasty little bugger, Oscar the Osteosarcoma, well this MRI is to ensure that he has not made a comeback on my neck. My next CT scan of my lungs is in September. So we will see what the results are then regarding Mildred the Metastasis.

I’m doing my best at living scan by scan, which is not fun nor is it any way to fully live. I can attest to this. But it’s the best I can do for now, so I’m finding ways to cope.

One method of coping has been writing. I find blogging and writing extremely therapeutic. Given so many changes in my life at the moment, I feel as though this blog has given me a sense of purpose. The focus I need to keep going. Recently, I have also been asked to do some writing for Princess Margaret Hospital as well as various cancer sites, where I will be able to tell my story. I do not have all of the details just yet, but will keep my loyal followers posted.

And if I should somehow become some sort of “cancerlebrity,” I won’t forget all of you, my biggest fans. Okay, so maybe I’m jumping the gun here a bit. But just in case I happen to stumble upon stardom, hopefully Natalie Portman can play me in the big screen version of my life. So if any movie producers out there are currently reading my blog, Natalie is my top choice.

And the Oscar goes to Natalie Portman for her remarkable portrayal of Sabrina.

And the Oscar goes to Natalie Portman for her remarkable portrayal of Sabrina.

Another method of coping has been my meditation classes and my enrollment in a program entitled the “Healing Journey.” I have become very involved with these classes and the “homework” that accompanies them. These classes are taken at Wellspring, which I can’t speak highly enough of. It’s such a wonderful concept with an atmosphere of serenity and peace.

Essentially, Wellspring Centres offer various classes and programs (free of charge) to cancer patients, cancer survivors, and their caregivers/family members. These programs range from meditation, mindfulness based stress reduction, healthy cooking classes, Yoga, drumming, writing workshops, exercise classes, Qi Gong, support groups, and discussion series.

I have been a member at Wellspring since February. I have met so many wonderful people here and have made meaningful connections. Each week I look forward to my classes and to seeing these strong, supportive, and engaging individuals. I feel emotionally connected to people, who in essence were complete strangers a few months ago.

There is something to be said about the “cancer club.” It’s a club that no one wants to be a part of, but once you are in, you are in for life.

I was always a person that didn’t like these group environments where people went around the room and took turns discussing their problems. I believed them to be depressing and almost defeatist in nature. I always felt as though I had everything under control. I could handle cancer, heck I’ve been handling it for 31 years! But realistically speaking, as strong as I may be in the wake of cancer, or as supportive as my friends and family have been, there was always something missing.

Generally when people ask you how you are doing, most people don’t really want to hear EXACTLY how you are doing. This might be too much information for them or too depressing to bear. Instead, what they prefer to hear is: “everything is good,” “things are going well,” “I’m doing fine,” or “I’m getting better.” And if you do make the mistake of divulging some of your deepest concerns or fears, people quickly shy away, change the subject, or awkwardly respond with “well, at least things are getting better” or “you look really good.”

I don’t blame people for behaving this way. It’s human nature, I guess. I might have reacted the same way if I didn’t have cancer a gazillion times. I know people’s intentions are good, so I try not to take it personally.

When someone asks how you are feeling they don’t expect you to rant about your bodily functions or bowel movements on this cancer diet you’ve embarked on. Reality check: no one wants to know about how regular or irregular you are. And people don’t want to hear you say something like, “I feel a pain in my chest and am concerned that the tumours in my lungs are growing,” or “I hate the fact that I have an incurable illness that will slowly and perhaps even painfully kill me,” or they do not want to hear a cancer patient get into the gruesome and descriptive details of their illness and chemo sessions. These are not easy conversations to have, and for fear of being depressing or burdening others with the trials and tribulations of a cancer diagnosis, many individuals (myself included) feel it is easier to shut people out or edit the information presented.

When I speak at these classes or with fellow “cancer club” members, I don’t have to explain myself at length. You see many heads in the room nodding in agreement. They just get it. They understand what each stage of the process is like. And it is here that I can discuss my darkest moments, fears, or feelings. They truly support one another and they feed off of one another’s energy. It’s a fabulous community.

The “cancer club” is a club that you do not ask or choose to be a member of, but can be of great value in the healing process to those affected by this crappy disease. Now, I am by no means suggesting that you go out and get yourself some cancer just so you can be part of this club, but if you do happen to have the unfortunate luck of having cancer, then the “cancer club” has got your back.

kickin cancer

So I strongly urge cancer patients and their caregivers to find a Wellspring near them and to try a class or program. Alternatively, if you happen to be situated outside of Canada or in a place that does not have a local Wellspring Centre, then I would advise you to speak to your oncologist or cancer hospital to inquire about various free services offered to those living with cancer. It can be quite beneficial and highly empowering. And who doesn’t like free stuff, right?

Another great coping method is enjoying oneself. Given that summer is finally here, I am looking forward to basking in the sun (while protecting myself and my scars that haven’t fully healed yet…as the last thing I want is a little skin cancer….I think I’ll pass on that). I also cannot wait to head to the cottage and enjoy short vacations here and there where I can clear my head and enjoy the fact that I am alive.

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No, our cottage is not in Tuscany, I just couldn’t find a good cottage picture.

I’m also anticipating some barbecues, patios, and meditating outside with fresh and moderately clean air (I live in a big city, afterall). Practically the entire summer is already booked up, which is okay because these are all positive and enjoyable distractions. Well, provided that I don’t get eaten alive by huge ass mosquitoes all summer. Cottage mosquitoes are insanely big. Notice to all mosquitoes out there: I have metastatic cancer, so bite me at your own risk! It doesn’t really work that way, I know, I know.

In the meantime, I am going to continue to stay focused and find purpose in this crazy (but awesome) life of mine. Hope you’ll continue along on the ride with me.

audrey quote

Love, health, and a purpose-driven life!
xo

We’re Baaaaaack!

Hiya Blog!

Did you miss me?

We had a lovely long weekend in Boston. What a pretty city!

Boston is noted as a city of “firsts.” It is the birthplace of the American Revolution, Harvard University, Benjamin Franklin, John F. Kennedy, Paul Revere, the Boston Tea Party, and let’s not forget, the New Kids on the Block. I know, right!

NKOTB

Yes, I used to be a huge NKOTB fan back in the day….Joey McIntyre was soooo dreamy to 8 year old Sabrina.

Anywho, I had always imagined that I would one day travel to Boston, as I longed to see Harvard law school for quite some time. Perhaps this was due to my legal education, or Harvard’s longstanding history, or its prestigious nature and beautiful architecture, or maybe because it is where Legally Blonde took place; either way, it was something I’ve always dreamed of visiting.

What I did not imagine is that I would be traveling to Boston for the primary purpose of getting a second opinion at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute regarding my metastatic osteosarcoma. How’s that for a first?

As promised, here is my post-Boston trip wrap up.

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The car ride, although tiring, was pleasant. I did manage to sleep in the car, which became rather useful due to the sleep I relinquished each night in Boston. If you didn’t read my last post, well, you really should. In that post I mentioned that essentially all of the hotels were booked up this past weekend in Boston, and as such, my dad, mom, as well as Garrett and I were forced to all stay in the same hotel room together. This meant lots of snoring and no sleeping for Sabrina. The one thing I desperately needed to bring with me was earplugs, so naturally, the one thing that I forgot to bring with me was earplugs. After about five hours of my parents (mainly my dad) snoring loudly and proudly, Garrett and I took matters into our own hands and we made ourselves earplugs out of toilet paper. Necessity is the mother of invention.

The next day we made sure that we bought some proper earplugs. This kept the snoring symphony to a mere background noise as opposed to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

Oh, and since the suspense must be killing all of you, Garrett opted for a more formal bedtime attire. He chose pyjamas.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let me breakdown the rest of our little adventure.

As you all know, the main reason for our trip was not to visit the hometown of the New Kids on the Block, but rather to receive a second opinion from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

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I can assure you that the building was very nice and welcoming, and it didn’t smell like urine or have that unpleasant hospital odour. Everyone that I dealt with was very friendly, especially the oncologist that I visited with. However, I did not receive any information that was particularly enlightening or life-altering. In a nutshell, I basically was told everything that I had already heard back home in Toronto. There was no miracle cure or drug. Additionally, there was no immunotherapy drug trial for sarcoma taking place at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute anytime soon. So, that was a bit of a letdown.

I was given the name of a drug, which my oncologist in Toronto had previously mentioned to me as something we might consider in the future (although this drug is not covered by OHIP…..surprise, surprise). I also volunteered to become part of a research study to gather more information on sarcomas, as I believe there is definitely a lack of research and information with regards to these types of cancer.

Something that I found a little troubling was some of the exclusions associated with clinical trials. Virtually all clinical trials have many exclusions as part of the eligibility requirements. For many trials in the United States, one of these exclusions tends to be that you will be excluded from participating in the trial if you have had another cancer within the last five years. I remotely understand the reasoning behind this, but essentially it seems to me that these individuals are being unfairly punished for having had the bad luck of receiving more than one cancer diagnosis in a short period of time. Highly frustrating.

Even though the information communicated to me at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute was not really what I was hoping for or expecting, the Boston trip was well worth it nonetheless.

Just the fact that I finally was able to stroll around Harvard Law School (as well as seeing Harvard main campus, and the Medical School) was extremely memorable for me, as I have been enamored with this institution for a long time. What a gorgeous school that Harvard is.

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And guess what, I am now able to say that I peed in Harvard Law School. I don’t think my name will be adorning their walls on a plaque for that, but still.

How cool am I?

How cool am I?

Although it was a very busy weekend, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was for us to navigate the city on foot. It didn’t feel congested or crowded at all. It was wonderful. Even in very touristy spots such as Harvard Square or Quincy Market, I didn’t feel stressed strolling around. Driving in the city, on the other hand, was a bit challenging for my dad as there was quite a bit of traffic on the streets. We even took part in a Boston Duck Tour which came highly recommended to us, and it was a riot, as our “con-duck-tor” was hilarious. We were able to get a glimpse of the “Cheers” sign while on board the Duck Tour (although the pic below is not the one we took).

Cheers

And of course, my favourite part of traveling to foreign places is to eat! Well, I think that’s my favourite thing in general. Total foodie. I have to say one of my favourite restaurants in Boston was Legal Sea Foods. I had an absolutely delicious crab cake with a side of quinoa salad. I was so taken aback by the party in my mouth that I completely forgot to take a picture of my meal. I always take pictures of my meals when I am on vacation. That’s my thing! So the best I can do is a picture of me outside of the restaurant…sorry folks.

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As you might imagine, the seafood in Boston is very yummy. And Garrett can attest to the fact that the beer in Boston is also very yummy.

Here is Garret with his beer sampler.

Here is Garrett with his beer sampler.


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As for other memorable dishes, here is my wonderful seafood risotto.
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My delicious Chilean sea bass
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Garrett’s superstar pasta with clams
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And we cannot forget Garrett’s mouthwatering New England Clam Chouda….this Clam Chowder was actually award-winning!

He looks like a kid in a candy store in this pic.

He looks like a kid in a candy store in this pic.

I also must confess that I was able to find a very delicious organic healthy restaurant in Boston which was absolutely rammed. I think me and every other New Age hippie or vegan on the planet was thinking the same thing that day. I had a “Green Goddess” bowl. Now to all of you carnivores out there (which used to be me in the good old days), it might look too green and too scary, but I can assure you that it was really tasty. The dish also consisted of sprouted beans, and I was in “Beantown” afterall.

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And for my dad, no trip is complete unless he is able to have a meal at an Italian restaurant. So we headed to Boston’s Little Italy, which I have to say we were all quite impressed with. The espresso and cannoli were really good. We ate at a busy little restaurant named Limoncello. You’ll have to take my dad’s word on the cannoli as I just stuck to espresso that night.

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A very good espresso.

A very good espresso.

Here’s my mom’s tiramisu..apparently it tasted just as good as it looked.
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I am also a huge fan of cupcakes. I love making them (and I used to enjoy eating them too). So, I was told to visit Georgetown Cupcakes, which is a gourmet cupcake shop started up by two sisters from Toronto! Since I am staying away from refined sugar and dairy these days, I decided to order their vegan apple-cinnamon cupcake; however, I just took one bite from it (but I didn’t try the frosting). If you are wondering who ate the rest of the cupcake, that should be rather easy to guess, it was Garrett.

My pretty vegan apple cinnamon cupcake.

My pretty vegan apple cinnamon cupcake.

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For all of you baseball fans, we did stop by Fenway park. The Boston Red Sox were not playing though.
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All in all, we had a fantastic little road trip. Boston is definitely a city worth visiting, and I would welcome the opportunity to head back there someday. Although we accomplished quite a bit in the short time that we were there (especially given the circumstances surrounding our visit), there are still things I would like to see and do. I could always do a bit more sightseeing, a little more shopping, and a lot more eating.

Till next time, Boston! We love you 🙂

The view of the city at night.

The view of the city at night.

Love, health, and Beantown!
xo

Road Trip!

I love me a good road trip.

road trip

Great scenery, good conversation, fun music, and snacking the entire time (unless I happen to fall asleep).

Sorry, there’s not enough room for all of you to tag along, but I will update you when I am back (and in essence, you will all be with me in spirit). Where will we be going, you might be wondering……Boston!

Boston

My oncologist in Canada believes it might not be a bad idea to receive a second opinion from the sarcoma clinic at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Essentially, there may be novel treatments, procedures, or clinical trials used in the United States that are not currently available to me in Canada.

The Dana Farber Cancer Institute is one of the leading cancer research centres in the world, so I am pretty hyped about hearing what they have to say. Additionally, being the nerd that I am, I have always wanted to see Harvard Law School.

Having some clam chowder might not be a bad idea either. I have always heard that Boston is a beautiful city, definitely one worth visiting. Obviously, I wish the whole ‘cancer thing’ wasn’t the reason for this road trip, but at the same time, I am very grateful that I am healthy enough to travel and enjoy the sights.

Apparently we will be traveling to Boston during one of the busiest weekends of the year. Correct me if I am wrong, but massive crowds and huge lineups don’t really work wonders for reducing stress levels. I will make sure to meditate my way around the city. I honestly thought we would be sleeping out of my dad’s car during the time we were there because it was insanely difficult to find a hotel. My cousin, who is awesome at finding hotels and getting deals, was on the phone for five hours trying to desperately find us somewhere to sleep. We must have called every hotel within the Boston area. Luckily, we scored a hotel. There will be four of us traveling, however, we could not get two separate rooms, that’s just crazy talk, so we had to settle on one room with everyone all nestled up together. How romantic, right? There goes Garrett’s plan of sleeping naked. Probably not such a good idea with his father-in-law in the same room. Could be a little awkward. They get along fabulously, don’t get me wrong, but that might be a little too close for comfort. I, on the other hand, will have the pleasure of being serenaded by the symphony orchestra of snorers. It’s 3 against 1. I don’t stand a chance. But I will have plenty of earplugs with me.

I am not sure what to expect from this consultation. I am hoping that the information communicated to me will be positive. Hopefully, there is something that can be done or tried that may work on my type of cancer. My fingers, toes, and anything else I can think of are all crossed! As I have probably mentioned before, the thing with metastatic cancer is that there are very few options.

My cancer is incurable. So realistically speaking, what we are hoping for is something that will keep the disease stabilized. The idea behind stable disease is that it “buys you more time” to enjoy and live your life, as well as providing you with the hope that during that extra time you just bought yourself, a cure will be discovered. Or perhaps your disease will just miraculously go away. “Poof! Just like that!” Seems pretty far-fetched, I know. But without hope, we have nothing.

I have my handy little journal that I like to take with me to my appointments. I strongly suggest that you all take a journal, notepad, or scrap piece of paper with you when you visit your doctors. Not just for doodling while you are waiting five hours for an appointment, but also to trigger your memory with respect to all of those wonderful questions that you have been researching for months and were planning to ask your oncologist or treatment team. It’s unbelievable how quickly distracted we can become during medical appointments. As soon as you enter your second or third waiting room, you magically forget everything you had been meaning to ask for months. For instance, when I was first told the cancer came back or that it had metastasized, all I heard was this…“cancer,” “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” “cancer, cancer, cancer.” So, to avoid this same situation reoccurring, my diary will be traveling with me to Boston.

One of the main topics for discussion is whether I might potentially be a candidate for immunotherapy. For those of you unfamiliar with this fancy cancer treatment, basically immunotherapy is a treatment that uses your body’s own immune system to help combat cancer. Using targeted therapies that activate the immune system seems to be the future in cancer treatment. Spoiler alert: The immune system has always played a role in fighting cancer. At some point I will be dedicating an entire blogpost to immunotherapy, so not to worry, I got your back! Another question I have is related to whether there are any clinical trials available at the moment that successfully target and treat osteosarcoma (in general) as well as metastatic osteosarcoma in the lungs, more specifically.

In the meantime, I am going to be looking into fabulous restaurants to try out while we are there. And let’s not forget the shopping! If any of you have any suggestions as to good eats and good buys, I am all ears. Please, feel free to share. I will desperately aim to not let this whole ‘cancer thing’ dictate the mood for our entire trip. Although I guess I picked the wrong time to revamp my entire diet and lifestyle, but oh well. No Boston Cream Pie or hot dogs from Fenway for me… you feel my pain, right? I am sure there are equally delicious healthy options out there that I can enjoy. So there!

I will be sure to update all of you, my wonderful followers, upon my return. I will let you know what the medical opinion was down there, tell you about any memorable meals we ate or places we visited or things I bought, and of course, whether or not Garrett went the pyjama route while bonding with the in-laws.

Ahhh, I’ve always loved myself a good old fashioned road trip. Just think of us as the Griswolds…..”National Lampoon’s Cancer Vacation.” Watch out Boston, here we come!

Love, health, and Harvard!
xo