I thought I'd start my first blog by copying an article I entitled "Things To Do". Its an article I wrote after Lisa passed away for Catalyst Fitness when they honoured our family by naming a WOD (work out of the day) after her. Before we get to it I also thought I'd introduce "Through Lisa's Eyes" to you.
Lisa Paradis was born Sept 12, 1964. Lisa was a proud mother of 3 wonderful boys, and my wonderful wife. She was diagnosed with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer in May 2008 and despite a courageous battle, lost her fight on Dec 9, 2010. Lisa bought me my first DSLR camera and encouraged me to take pictures. Her cancer struggles taught me to look around and appreciate nature’s beauty which surrounds on a daily basis. She also taught me to enjoy today because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I have started “Through Lisa’s Eyes” where the goal is to support the Sault Area Hospital Cancer Unit one picture at a time. Thank you for your support.
Things To Do
We were a normal small town household. We always had things to do. However, in April 2008 the Paradis household was shattered. It was news that none of us wanted to hear and news that sent an unbelievable wave of emotion through all of us. It had affected everyone including the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We were losing sleep, there were tears, anger, frustration and all the other emotions that go with news you just never expected. Yes the news was terrible; our 11 year old son had been cut from the rep hockey team. It was at the time, devastating. How could this have happened, we had plans, we had things to do.
Just over a month later, things changed and they changed in a big hurry. Things changed with a great big “thud”. That big thud we heard was the hand of one of the ugliest diseases possible knocking on our door. Yup, the big “C” was here and it was looking for Lisa. Cancer just didn’t knock, it kicked the door down. It entered our house and started shouted out phrases like inflammatory, chemotherapy, stage 3, radiation, triple negative and mastectomy. When we finally figured out what happened the door was now right off its hinges and cancer and all its hooligan friends were trying to take over the house. The perspective of which we looked at things had changed but we still had things to do.
Before the” knock at the door”, Lisa knew all along that something wasn’t right. She kept telling me over and over for months. She visited her doctor, eventually a surgeon and kept being told it was an infection, or at worst, fibroid cysts. No worries they said. Month after month she went back. Finally a surgical biopsy was done and on May 16th, our 10th anniversary, Lisa was confirmed to have the rarer inflammatory breast cancer. To top things off Lisa had what is called triple negative cancer meaning the cancer cells lack estrogen receptors to make it even more uncommon. (If Lisa was still with us, she’d would be the first to tell everyone that you know your body. If it doesn’t feel right be persistent. Do not just automatically believe the experts.) Inflammatory breast cancer doesn’t have the usual “lumps” but shows up as swelling as in Lisa’s case. Everything we read stated that this type of breast cancer can be easily mis-diagnosed as an infection or cysts, again as in Lisa’s case. Lisa’s breast was tender, swollen and eventually became warm to the touch. We also read that in the majority of cases, inflammatory breast cancer is usually not diagnosed until it has advanced to a later stage. There are four stages of cancer with stage 1 being earlier detection and stage four being what you do not want to hear. Lisa was in stage 3. Despite all this bad news she still knew she had things to do. (Note; the above information is my understanding and not medical fact)
Strong, courageous, funny, loving, tender, determined, as close to fearless as one can be when you know you have cancer. That was Lisa. She cried a few tears, and the “why me” quickly changed to “why not me” when she was first diagnosed. Automatically she prepared for the fight and boy did she fight! Chemotherapy side effects....meant nothing when there were lunches to be made or our son needed to be driven to hockey cause she didn’t want me to miss out of town work commitments. Hair loss.....let’s go get a wig....hey Den, want me to be a red-head, blonde or brunette? HA HA HA. Mastectomy ....it’s only fatty flesh, get rid of it. In fact get rid of both if there was any chance of cancer coming back on the other side. (She didn’t have to, but was more than willing to do what she had to do.) Skin burnt black from radiation ... help me put on some aloe vera so I can make you guys supper. For 19 months she fought the fight and was told that things looked good in December of 2009. Right away she said “Yes, I have things to do so let’s start doing them!”
Unfortunately the good news didn’t last, in January of 2010 the cancer was back and it had spread. Chest wall, remaining lymph nodes in her left arm, brain and liver. None of this good news. Again, she shed a couple of tears and continued the fight with her dogged determination. More chemotherapy, radiation treatment on the cancer cells in her head, and then chemotherapy again, right to the very end. She fought hard; everyday of her cancer diagnosed life was a struggle. However despite those struggles if you didn’t know she had cancer, you wouldn’t have known. Her courage and inner strength pushed her on, not so much for her, as it was for those around her. The oncologist told us that 25% of women in the state she was diagnosed in Jan 2010 wouldn’t have made it to their first chemo treatment. Not Lisa, she had things to do.
Even the night before she passed away, her strength, her determination, her sense of humour and courage were apparent. Joking that she was worse than a kid dribbling juice down her chin, making those visiting promise no tears, making me promise to take care of the boys and to make sure I went on to be happy in life. Life was never about her, but always about those she cared for. Right to the end she still had things to do.
What were all those things she had to do? All she wanted was the normal things we all expect to do. She wanted to watch her youngest son play hockey and to see him graduate, she wanted to proudly see her two oldest in their military uniforms, she wanted to eventually hold her grandchildren, she wanted for her and I to take a vacation together. All the things that most of us take for granted. She still has those things to do and she’ll still get to do them, all of them. It will just have to be through her three sons, her mother, her siblings, her nephews and nieces, all her family and through me. Her spirit, determination, strength and courage has been so instilled in all of us that, no matter what we do, she will be helping to guide us. We have things to do.
So, having said that...at the end of the day...enjoy life. It's too short.
Hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy taking them.