Cancer Journal

Chair in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Research & Prof of Epi at U of Ottawa. Recovering American.…

Chair in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Research & Prof of Epi at U of Ottawa. Recovering American.…

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Cancer Journal





Cancer Journal - Nightmares

I’m up again early in the morning, waking from another nightmare. Sometimes these dreams feature an assailant who rushes at me out of the dark. It’s as if I have been flung out of sleep. In others, I’m not threatened so much as trapped. For example, I recentl…


Cancer Journal - Not to Hope

Last February, my surgeon told me that I had “months, not years,” and no further treatment options were available.Today, February 10, 2022, I skied 5 kilometres. Pathetic, by the standards of my youth, which only shows how warped those standards were. Gratitu…


The COVID Pandemic on New Year’s Day, 2022

We travelled to the US over Christmas to see our children and our new grandchild. We were struck by the profound differences between Canada and the US in how the pandemic has played out, and I want to reflect on them here.Canada is far from perfect, but in Ot…


Cancer Journal - To Hope or Not to Hope

I am a patient with recurrent throat cancer and an end-stage diagnosis, although I’m currently in remission. This means that I live in a liminal world, a thin place where both life and death are vividly present. In trying to learn to live there, I have been t…


Cancer Journal - Thanksgiving

I was diagnosed with throat cancer in July of 2020. Thirty-five sessions of radiotherapy followed. Soon after, though, the pain surrounding my tumour began to increase. Several scans and a surgical biopsy confirmed that the cancer was resurgent. Treatment-res…


Cancer Journal - A Soldier of the Great War

We construct life stories to present ourselves to the world, and the narratives we choose matter. A cancer memoir, like this one, tells a life story. So how does cancer figure in mine?Part of the normative cultural frame for cancer memoirs is that cancer is a…


Cancer Journal - The Sad Thing About Good News

This post has good news about my treatment. But in cancer, even good news can pose a challenge.To appreciate how good the news is, let's go back to April 2021 and the meeting with my surgeon when I learned that my neck cancer was recurrent. He gave me an end-…


Cancer Journal - Citizenship in the Kingdom of Malady

I'm fortunate to work for a hospital that provides excellent disability benefits (even in Canada, not all employers do). To qualify, I needed to get a form completed by my oncologist. Before I returned it to Human Resources, I read it.


Cancer Journal - The Combined Positive Score

I have a bit of good news today concerning my Combined Positive Score (CPS, although I have also seen Composite Proportion Score). The CPS is a biomarker that helps predict whether my current treatment regimen, immunotherapy, will succeed. This post will expl…


Cancer Journal - The Deal

Welcome to the Cancer JournalI am working on a memoir of being a cancer patient during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each post will contain a passage from the work-in-progress. Let's agree on a few things. Here's my side of the deal:The newsletter is free and always…


A Cancer Patient in the COVID-19 Pandemic - Issue #1

This post is about conversations between friends where one partner has received an end-stage diagnosis. These conversations are hard for both parties.If you are talking to a friend who may die soonYou may worry that what you say will be inadequate to their si…