Finding my voice.

Most of the time I think these fabulous thoughts about what I will write next or how I am going to comment on life or all the wonderful things I’m going to do whenever I have the time. Right now, for example, I’m thinking to myself: shouldn’t I plan for this blog? I wonder if this fits and I wonder if I can talk about the amazing discoveries I’ve made over the past few days. Yesterday? Well, I started my day at just after 7:00 am EST with an emotional journey down memory lane. While I was in treatment, I happened upon an amazing book at the Ottawa General Hospital Bookstore; it was called ‘Before I Die’ and it talked about some real issues I was going through with Cancer. Part of me felt guilty for even gravitating toward a book that had such a depressing title but I am glad I did. Jenny Downham is an ex-actor who lives in London (UK) and this was her debut novel. For me, that was the perfect calling card to recommend my exploration of this detailed, realistic depiction of a teenager dealing with her terminal illness and life itself. This is much more than a bucket list– it is a living, breathing testament to the power of now. I have recommended this book and received puzzled looks when people consider the taboo subject matter. It is an emotionally charged exploration of humanity and the relationships we make with everyone wee come into contact with. A few days ago, I discovered that they had made a film adaptation in 2012, starring Dakota Fanning. I watched the making of documentary (in the special features section of this dvd) and then I went whole hog into the story.

I get it. Jenny’s detailed depiction of Tessa Scott was so poignant and thought-provoking that it stuck in my memory. I knew that we were different…. I had thyroid cancer and I was thirty years old when I had to come to terms with my diagnosis. We also had a lot in common and that’s when I fell in love with Tessa. Downham used her acting muscles to create a detailed exploration of Tessa’s character and her family and her relationships and her journey towards the ultimate end. I commend Dakota Fanning for going on such a mesmerizing honest, vulnerable journey with Tessa’s character. I spent most of my time crying and thinking about how lucky I am to still be here and how amazing my parents have been. Where some people might shy away for such a wrenching emotional exploration: I am very glad that I went there. My struggle with Cancer taught me things that I will never forget. I learnt about the power of imagination and the courage that is effortless when life stops making sense. Without even trying, my will to live and heal and make sense of what was happening to me prevailed. Like David Small (, I woke up from throat surgery without most of my voice. I knew that there was some risk but I am so sickeningly positive in my outlook that I just figured it wasn’t going to happen to me. A trained actor and singer, I had to come to terms with the fact that my body and life had gone in a different direction than I had intended. Right now, I am exactly where I need to be to continue on my creative journey. What happens when you lose your voice? You find a new one. I am digging through memories and feelings and dashed hopes and things I wrote when I was still trying to make sense of how all of this was feeling. My Superhero Survival Guide is a highly charged visual treatise on what I did to make my way through one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do: learning to live again. Another crazy bit of psychology I’ve been dealing with is my fear of sharing what I know before I’m finished everything. That’s why I have precious few entries on… This isn’t a secret… it is my gift to the whole world. Like Jenny Downham’s brilliant story has taught me: now is a good time to do everything you want to do with your life before it’s over.


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