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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Thursday, December 12, 2013

See-Through Scanner

It was a first for me. Setting off an American scanner alert because something foreign was in my breast. And where was the handy card the surgeon's office gave me to show I had a surgical implant in there? At home on my dresser of course.

The line-up behind us was the usual, everyone pressing from behind as you hopped around on one foot trying to take off your other shoe while ripping off your belt, pulling your laptop out of your back pack, the bag of gels and creams from your carry-on , hand the security guy your boarding pass, not making jokes or smiling because that might mean I was "nervous." Okay, I was always nervous at border crossings or security checks. You can thank our mother for that one. In the days before computers,after being stopped at the Maine/New Brunswick border EVERY September  before school started go for a weekend power shop. We always blew the allowable duty free budget with another appliance Mom would have to have.Never-mind we were wearing three pairs of new pants and shirts. We'd get busted for a toaster oven or a vacuum. The humiliation of being caught again was worst when Mom had to confess to our Dad that all the advantage of going to the States for back-to-school savings was wasted on a fine. Again.

To this day, I shake and tremble at every border crossing or when I pass through security of any kind. My palms sweat, fear trickles down beneath my armpits, rolls down my back. My eyes whirl around in my head, I accidentally look for exit signs and count how many guards are standing where. Why is that? Am I thinking I could make a run for it somewhere? I act as guilty as I still feel and once through, I run away from the area as fast as I can, still clutching my belt and shoes to put on around the corner. I fell for the "you've been chosen for an extra security check" only once. Grabbed because I had paused to put my shoes on. Never again.

But this was different. I walked into the new full scanner X-Ray machine with my hands touching my head. As I came out I was held up and words were exchanged between the male guard and a female guard who was standing further down. The woman looked up at the screen, saw where the bright red mark on the picture of a female frame's right breast was, looked into my eyes and saw my grin. What? I love my re-conned boob!

And she waved me through.
What a relief. It would have been one  more border story for Barry to tell and one more reason to fear the security people at the airport!

Homeward bound. Hopefully we arrive tonight at 7:30 pm. What a long day as we started yesterday night, after being up since 7 am. But it's always worth it. Every little bit of inconvenience and physical and mental exhaustion.I love nothing better besides getting on a plane and arriving some place else! Especially someplace warm when it's freezing at home.

Friday, November 15, 2013

FAQs on Houston Mirroring Halston

Thanks to everyone in the Bulkley Valley and beyond for the indelible support of the two books I released between May and September of this year. My final 2013 library reading, held last night in Houston, had a record 18 attendees. Wow.

All this media promotion and travelling across BC  has been exhausting both mentally and physically so I am being treated to a holiday for 3 weeks to unstress from the road trips we've raced through and to settle myself back into the writer's chair and get the second mystery "Double Dip" through it's final stages before printing. It's also my birthday while we're away, so this is my most incredible, thoughtful gift from my husband. (No, sales of the books weren't THAT good although we exceeded 1000 of the RFC before the summer ended!)

As a treat, I thought I'd take a minute and share some FAQs about the book Not Just One:

Q: What made you think of writing this book?
A: I have no idea. This is book #3 in my life. The first two books are still in drawers for one day when I have nothing left to work on. As if that will ever happen! Not with two more already-written mysteries and the start of book #5 Running From ADD expected in 2016.

Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: One year, from first horrible draft where you put your silly idea down on paper and then keep revising it and revising it until it begins to take shape. Add a time-line, fill in the blank spots, more fleshing out of the characters and then editing again and again and you have exactly 365 days. To promote it takes a life-time it's starting to look like!

Q: Why did you decide to self-publish?
A: I did a lot of research on book writing while waiting to hear back from publishers. The replies from the queries were ALWAYS super positive, hand-written notes that encouraged me to keep sending it around (RFC). It possibly didn't fit their current need, wasn't for them or they had their quotas for the year etc. Self-publishing gives me the control over the cover, the price,the release date and the percentage for selling it. Instead of making $2 a book thru a publisher, I can make a lot more to help pay for the up-front cost if I sell them out of my trunk. Selling through bookstores earns me more than through a conglomerate like Chapters, Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It's an expensive venture, but sales from my first book enabled the printing of my second. I'm hoping the sales from Not Just One will do the same for the third book.

Q: The Not Just One book looks scary with that snake on it. Is it?
A: Not really and if there is a tense scene, it's over fast because the pace rarely slows down through the entire book. Nothing gross or gory other than the fact Billy had a brief sexual encounter with a minor and pays for it throughout the story.

Q: "Okay," I'm asked, "the town you live in is Houston and the town in your book sounds quite similar, so why change it to Halston?"
A: My latest book, a mystery called Not Just One, is fictional. Yes there are resemblances or token service personal that will always be heroes in my books, but it stops there. Halston may greatly resemble Houston, but I changed the name to keep liberal licensing. So if I want to plop down a giant shoe store in the middle of Halston, I could. And don't tempt me...

Q: I'm sure I know one of the characters whose name is changed. Is it your ex-husband?
A: Heaven's, NO! That would be liable for a law-suit I would imagine and risking my own neck, upsetting my family, his family and countless others, never-mind the man himself. What I did do was roll a few quirks from people I know and ground them down and spit them out as a character named Billy who looks nothing like my ex when envisioned in my head. Although Billy sometimes grab's the readers pity, he's generally not a nice guy. My ex is well liked by many people.

Q: Who is Mini?
A: Mini, like everyone else, is fiction although I did meet someone very much like what I see in my head when I write, after the book came out. Uncanny, right?

Q: Who is your favourite character?
A: They change from book to book. I think Warren stole the show in Not Just One but everyone feels it is Mini that wins for most popular side-kick. In the next book, Double Dip, that all changes as the characters develop a bit more.

Q: When will you be doing another reading?
A: Not until late spring or summer if I can help it. I need time to write again and can't spend as much time as we did this year on travelling for cancer relays and promotions. Of course, if I was paid to do inspirational talks or readings as many successful authors are, I'd be packing.

Q: Anything else to add?
A: Yes, I think Not Just One is a book everyone in Houston will enjoy, if only to laugh at the similarities of the two towns. It's funny, fast-paced and as many, many people have said, "It's just like talking to you, Deb." My reply is at least you can close the book and put it away for a spell, not so easy to do when I'm in the same room as you! I am what I am! Thanks everyone for your support. Life IS amazing. May it be so for you as well.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Winding up Beside Michael Slade

What an end to a month of touring with my Running From Cancer memoir. I'm finally winding it all up and packing my bags for the flight home tomorrow night.

The SIWC Surrey Writers Conference was spent rubbing elbows with the famous Diana Gabaldon of the best selling Outlander novels and Micheal Slade of numerous crime/horror/fiction novels amidst at least twenty other well established presenters as they ate with us, lectured classes and met us in hallways and elevators always happy to talk about our work or projects and there to help with questions. What a lot of learning we did. I'm looking forward to heading home tomorrow though. Sounds like Barry is more than ready for me to come home as well.

(Michael Slade (b. 1947, Lethbridge, Alberta) is the pen name of Canadian novelist Jay Clarke, a lawyer who has participated in more than 100 criminal cases and who specializes in criminal insanity. Before Clarke entered law school, his undergraduate studies focused on history.[1]Clarke’s writing stems from his experience as a practicing lawyer and historian, as well as his extensive world travel. He works closely with police officers to ensure that his novels incorporate state-of-the-art police techniques.[2] Writing as a team with a handful of other authors, Clarke has published a series of police procedurals about the fictional Special External Section (Special X) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. His novels describe Special X protagonists as they track down fugitives, typically deranged murderers. Four other authors have contributed under the name Michael Slade: John Banks, Lee Clarke, Rebecca Clarke, and Richard Covell. Despite the collaborative nature of the books, Jay Clarke is the predominant voice in their writing[citation needed]. Currently, Jay and his daughter Rebecca write under the Slade name.
Slade's novel Ghoul is on the Horror Writers Association's recommended reading list.[3] His work is published by Penguin.
Fans of the series are referred[citation needed] to as Sladists, a play on the word sadist.
According to a 2008 report[4] on horror movie website Arrow in the Head, Headhunter was optioned for a movie by Brightlight Pictures, set to be written by Wil Zmak and directed by Patrick Lussier. The project appears to have died; as of August 2011, no further details have been released and no information is available from Brightlight's website.  (from Wikipedia)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Still Intact and Touring

So far so good. Although I ended up driving to Vancouver through the soupy fog all night, I made it down without losing a thing! Made the 7 am ferry and just kept going all day to Nanaimo to watch my beautiful daughter try on wedding dresses. A library reading was followed by a short boat ride to Protection Island to visit Doug and Marilyn- Karly's Auntie. A pampering of meals and great company by a fireplace ensued and I slept like the dead for a full uninterrupted 8 hours! Up to cruise the island by foot with another dear friend along-but scooping fresh oysters right off the rocks was a certain highlight. Ate them right there fresh from the shells!
Life is so good.Thanksgiving turkey dinner with Karly's fiancee Matt and his mother and bouncing out of bed at 6 to work out with my amazingly powerful and fit daughter ( you should SEE her whip those heavy ropes around!!) then meeting another dear friend for Starbucks breakfast.
Off now to visit another great friend- this one from my hometown in N.B.
Days off are SO fun. Back to Vancouver and the power cocktail evening tomorrow!
And I still have the phone Honey! Amazing!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Sky Is Falling ... Again.

Looks just like I'd expected after a week of backing into someone else's vehicle, losing my keys inside a store (still missing) , my credit card for an hour and a nightmare about misplacing my son as a toddler (when I woke up I phoned my 28 year old to see if he was okay), and NOW there is a fog that has settled across the northwest cancelling flights in PG and I'm holding my breath about Smithers.

I'm getting worried about what's coming up...

Where am I off to?

To Nanaimo to visit my daughter and fiancee- to watch her try on wedding dresses for her August 2014 event. Then we head up island to Nanaimo for a library reading from 3:30-5 before hopping in a boat and travelling to a wee island to visit Karly's Aunt Marilyn for the night. Super excited to see old friends in Nanaimo as well as one in Victoria I am long over-due catching up with.

Then off to Vancouver for a debut at Diane's Lingerie shop. If you haven't seen it yet- take a look! OMG! They've been publicizing about it all week. 25% discount off their bras this week with a % going to Breast Cancer research.

Then to Surrey for my writer's conference where I get to talk with Michael Slade and other celebrities to garner tips on how to be famous (kidding) and how I can get my material more mainstream.

It's going to be an eventful week while my husband is tramping the forest calling for moose. He figures he got the better end of the stick. I said I was jealous, but that is another fiction story I'm afraid.

Back to Houston and Smithers library readings in November! See you soon and thanks always for your support!! It keeps me writing.

That is, if I don't lose myself while in the big cities!

(update: flights were cancelled over that entire weekend. Luckily I had friends also trying to fly to Vancouver so we took their vehicle and drove all night. After that, things seemed to settle down and smooth out, I am happy to say. Except that my son thinks I'm a little more crazy than usual...)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Summit of HOPE

I was honoured to have been asked to attend the Canadian Cancer Society's 75th year summit/conference with volunteers and reps across the north.

 It started for me last night with a fantastic spread of food at the former top chairperson Lorraine Grant's home in PG. With wine or cups of punch we overcame our shyness and began realizing who and what we each represented. I was surprised I knew so many of them from this summer's relays I had attended.

Today we began at 8:30 for powerful speeches about what exactly happens through the CCS. Where the $$ does go. And believe me, it is ALL well spent! Their big push this year is getting new fathers -to-be, to butt out.To be their child's hero, not someone giving them the potential to contract lung cancer. To stop young people from smoking. To get enough funding to build a prevention centre to reduce the 50% of people who get cancer from simply not living a healthy life-style. Those incidents that are PREVENTABLE. Are you listening yet?

We heard first hand how the cancer connection works, pairing people who have had similar experiences with the cancer journey to some one terrrified and facing the unknown. How a child with leukemia suffered through the bone marrow tests, chemo and surgeries to stand before us giggling and happy- her family supported financially and mentally through the years it took to get their child back home again. The new Kortebayn Lodge being a prime example of what they're doing- giving patients, family and people needing an inexpensive alternative when in PG. A "compassionate hotel" with a pool table, fireplace, library and cosy rooms and kitchen.

But the best part of the experience was the caring and compassion. The love for what they do- helping people to survive. It was so obvious. I have been so fortunate to have been scooped up by this organization. I hope I can help ensure their success in our common goal of making sure YOU are aware of what you can do to stand up to this disease Today, BEFORE YOU GET CANCER.

I'm thinking of going to Dawson Creek and Ft. St. John for the relays 2014.

Tomorrow is the Relay for the rain, of course! Nothing has been easy this year when it came to relays or runs. Sigh. It can only get better next year is the way I figure!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Pink Wakes Up CBC Radio

What a morning! The sun had yet to rise over the downtown buildings on Victoria Street in Kamloops, yet there I was, Starbucks mug in hand (filled with home brew of decaf, almond milk and stevia) dressed head to heels in HOT PINK! They saw me coming in a swirl of colored poodle hair that hung from my newest acquisition of blazing pink suede coat and fluffy collar and arm adornments. Beneath, my brightest pink dress and new pink Payless pumps.
Why all the pink? Women, including myself, LOVE the colour. We identify it as our birthright, something that distinguishes us. I wear it to attract their attention, like a red feeder attracts hummingbirds. I want women to stop, look and LISTEN to what I am saying. You do NOT have to be a breast cancer statistic. A few basic tips and you can avoid the taste of chemo that never leaves the back of your throat. The mutilated or missing breast. The pain, depression and learning to live with the new you.

That was the message from CBC host Shelley Joyce to her listeners as we talked on air this morning, live.Read this book, Running From Cancer: a tilted memoir- also hot pink- it could save you or your friends body parts, possibly your life.

Radio is becoming easy and fun- I no longer shake and rattle, eager to sound clear and get my point across. Cut back on the alcohol from 10 to 7 drinks a week. One a day max for women, two for men. Cut back on the donuts to one a week instead of one a day. Up the exercise from 10 minutes to 40. One serving of fruit and vegis to 10. One glass of water a day to eight. Does that sound like too much to do to save your life? To avoid going to hell and back?

Trust me, you'll not think so after your diagnosis!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pooped and Off On Tour

I've blogged about everything else happening to me since the cancer comedy fell on top of me and threatened to squish me like the mouthy bug that I was, so a little more squeaking.
I am totally EXhausted. For two months at my computer phoning and e-mailing media for the upcoming book tour to Vancouver and back.
What a slippery bunch they are- and your very career depends on these people! "But who are you?" You wrote what? You sent a press package and a book?"
Some day I will not have to go through all this and I can return to do what I do best. And that's not wait for a call back that is never coming. It would be trying to finish editing the second that I can go through all this again. And again- ha.
No real complaints- just need a few more hours in the day.
I'm living the dream, but it was a little less hectic than this as I recall. And where the hell is the manservant??

Monday, September 16, 2013

Level Once Again

Ahhhh, the days of leaning further left from more weight has ended. I am walking taller and straighter than ever before. Well, since I was twenty anyways. The breast reconstructive surgery from my partial mastectomy was a success. And they are a work-of-art. The post-surgery gauze bandages have fallen away and lo-and-behold two bobbing mounds of joy. Two! Count them. Not one and a bit. Not beauty and ugly. I have mirrored twins! I can't stop looking down or raising my hand to make sure it is still there and not deflated again like the past few weeks. It's not moving?
Aw, come on you say. There must be a downside, right? Nope. Really- they're sore, but nothing, and I repeat nothing like any of the previous surgeries. A few days of pain killers and now I'm on straight chocolate with no codeine involved.
I tried walking the 10 km Terry Fox Run on Sunday but after 2.5 km found I was handling myself and was getting strange looks so we turned around and completed only 5 km this year. We made up for it at the silent auction shopping. Okay, it needs to "set." I knew that would happen. No jumping for joy, no post-cocoa work-out. Two weeks. I can do that. If I can do a year of cancer treatment, you KNOW I can handle a week of anything.

For anyone considering having a breast reconstructed, please take this as a massive endorsement for the positive. I have myself back. I am whole once again! And , courtesy of the BC Medical Plan, I had the other one raised to be in the same area code. No more pencil or beer can  holders- I have a set of boobs that can float. I could be a stripper- call myself the Joker with a brown lunch bag with a big question mark on it pulled over my head! Look out Mexican wet t-shirt contest- I'm JOKING, people.

No, I am able to get these gals all the appreciation they need right here at home. Starting from myself. Now I have way more appreciation of what I own. What I will protect a lot better this time. Don't ask me if I want a glass of wine anymore. I've traded in the bottles fora perfect set of  boobs. For free- well, almost. There's the cost of the years off my life from the treatments and the stress, but it's a nice trade off all the same.

Would I go through it all again- yes, if it was just the one-time I probably would! I think it's important that I came out of this cancer journey ready and eager to help others in avoiding it.That wouldn't have been the same if I had avoided the chemo and the reconstruction.

I have found my path and my gift to the world. I went through the full cancer gambit with as little horror as one could have and still be considered a survivor. Now to tell everyone about it!
BEFORE....and you'll just have to imagine the fully rounded, plump after.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fourth Breast Scar Coming Up

Prepping and the countdown have begun for the hopefully last breast surgery in my lifetime. One can wish, right? This time for both breasts. A silicone implant will replace the expander in the right and the left will be made to look more like the new right (as in higher and perkier. Oh absolute joy!)
I have got "the call" from the PG hospital with the 100 questions on what diseases I might have, what surgeries I've been through, what drugs I'm on, what neck size (excuse me?), had any of this, ever had that? It's like they want to find an excuse not to go through with it? Surely you've been in contact with a large group of people lately? No.Do you snore? Not that I've heard?
To be this close to surgery one is tempted to lie- if my answer stands between me and getting this surgery done, then perjury it will be. As it is, I still have to hold my breath to make sure the surgeon makes it and isn't called away for an emergency somewhere, that the operating room isn't bumped by someone else, that I don't get a cold or get sick or yes, get hit by a bus between now and then. A lot of maybes before I get slid onto that hard slab with the big light standing guard over top of me. Before I'm injected with about my tenth round of anesthesia and float away to where? I remember visiting with mom once. I'm looking forward to the possibility of seeing her again. They say if the last thing you tell yourself is to remember your dreams before you fall asleep, you have a good chance of getting some recall.
So until Wednesday I am washing daily with a pre-surgical antiseptic soap to help ensure no infections. No herbal supplements and no aspirin. Day of, water only. In and out same day.
Another week on the couch with a struggle to make a daily pilgrimage to the post box and back (40 minute return) then 2-3 weeks of no swimming or chlorine until the scars heal and then another two weeks of no bouncing, running until the "pudding" sets and the implant is firmly embedded in the flesh.(unless I want a permanent shoulder pad.)
And then...the new and improved Debi Smith. Getting back what cancer took away.
Soon cancer will be nothing but faded scars in my breasts and my memories.
 I've learned a lot since July 2010 when I was told I would be headed on a different adventure.
A mere three years later and I'm back a wiser, better prepared cancer fighter...and an author to boot.
Maybe not a good enough trade-off but I'll take it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to the Boob

I think I've slipped from the normal pattern of breast reconstruction into a new category called "something else." The usual fill to maximum 200 ccs of saline to make my right breast the same size as my left, has turned into filling the expander sewn into the right breast every 3-5 days with another 100 ccs. Like a balloon, it blows up before our very eyes. Two days later, the surgical side of the breast is deflated again. The good news is all this hassle is expanding the skin bit by bit, enough that when surgery happens on September 11 (no, the date did not escape me) there will be enough extra skin to swap the temporary saline bag with a permanent solid gel silicone one.
But I had to share the fact that a long weekend is almost upon us, so my good doctor Sandi filled the boob again after only two days since the last fill. I can definitely feel the difference once again, almost too heavy on the right side, like I can tip over. That may be a wee bit of exaggeration.
I must also commend Sandi on her success at finding the port. Now that the skin has stretched, I no longer receive a freezing for the injection site. It's a quick check with the magnet finder for the metallic port-site and then a "quick poke" and Sandi is pushing the plunger down on the syringe, which no longer vibrates from effort, but goes in smooth and quick. We're done in minutes. See you next week!
A tip for anyone going through this- a syringe usually only holds 60 cc's, so what we are now doing is filling two syringes- one with 60ccs and one with 40 ccs. Once the needle is inserted into the port, Sandi uses the first syringe but she does not remove the needle from my breast. She unscrews it from the syringe and replaces the empty syringe with the next filled one. That saves her having to find the port twice. Works great for me! I didn't have to watch that long point coming at me twice.

Have a fab labor day long weekend everyone. I think I'll take this big boob to the lake and show it off while I can. No-one ever looks at your stomach rolls when there is an anomaly around.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Dream Wedding

Finally one of our four children has "taken one for the team." With all this talk in my book about wanting weddings and grandkids, our oldest daughter Lindsay had the family flown by helicopter to the top of Mt. Begbie in Revelstoke, B.C. There, upon a large flat rock with a background drop of waterfalls, glaciers and mountain scenery, she said "I do" to her best friend and partner in adventure, Jeff Zeitz (rhymes with heights). They will enjoy the most scenic wedding photos imaginable, especially with their love of dramatic mountain scenery. Complete with blue sky, sunshine and a handsome heli pilot.

The maid-of honour's dress flying up around her ears was one of the favourite stories along with a few "borrowed" flowers from another wedding's floral arrangement to make two  new corsages when ours froze, picking huckleberries until our tongues turned blue on the family hike the day before and the backword 'Z's on the pies all blended to make it an unforgettable occasion.The picture site will be announced for more glimpses of the bride and groom- the professional ones!

The honeymoon is in Squamish at a mountain climbing course so they will be able to climb Mt Begbie all the way on foot next time, using ropes and caribeeners. We asked that they call after the hike and not before!

We can hardly wait for the next wedding August 2nd of our other daughter Karly to her beau Matt McCrae of Victoria. Look for your Save-the-date cards in the mail very soon!

On that front, while in the hotel's hot tub this weekend, our son Lorne professed his intention of spending the rest of his life with partner Deb Austin, ring yet or not,which  had us sighing with content and the hope of the next part of the picture, the grandkids, falling not too shortly behind.

What about Kelly? Kelly seems perfectly content with his own company. Can't argue with that! Literally.

I think the floating feeling is going to continue for some time.

At least until the next surgery for the replacement of the breast expander with the real silicone breast implant on September 11. Yes, on 911. I have a feeling its going to be a good day for one of us.

Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Limp" the Boob Along

Quick up-date for anyone new. I have been going through breast reconstruction with the use of a surgically implanted breast expander in my breast. This expander has a bag which is filled gradually over the weeks until the anticipated size is reached. It is then left inside for two months for the skin to fully stretch to the desired size. A second surgery removes the expander and a silicone replacement that resembles the constituency of a gum drop, is then sewn in and voila- a full boob.I get back what cancer took from me!

 My exisitng nipple, although pointed to the far right will come a bit more left, but not enough to point in the proper direction. I figured that appropriate for someone that gets lost in a paper bag. Like a tattoo or street sign bearing my name, I now have my own individualized body part!

  A recent mishap caused a tweak in "the plan." A small leak has occurred which is exacerbated by sleeping on my stomach or any pressure on my chest.

My surgeon called it "limping the boob along," meaning a  rush operation will be requested, pending date September 6 but until then, we need to keep the breast with the expander inside filled to capacity as much as possible. This is instead of facing a second surgery to replace the expander and saline filled bag. We're going to try and make what we have work. Whew! Two more surgeries would have been hard to take. My right side is down for the count for 4-6 weeks. Hard to ski with one arm.

SO...I go to the Kelowna emergency on Monday morning (whatever was I thinking. What a line-up!) to eventually face a very handsome, super cheerful 13 year-old (?) doctor that said, "really?" Once I explained the technique required, he had the needle into the appropriate docking spot in one try and filled me with another 100 cc's of saline. It felt super large, jutting beneath my arm slightly. It felt wonderfully full and almost larger than my left breast. Definitely firmer, higher younger looking. Oh joy, oh JOY!

I will have to have it re-filled on Friday, the day before our daughter's wedding, to better fit my dress. Another emergency ward, another doctor who will most likely repeat the word..."really?"

Who else gets to go on a holiday having to limp their boob, instead of their spare tire, along? It is so typically me. Sigh.

The Boob is Staying Afloat

What welcome news I have for a change. I am pleased as punch to announce that when my doctor returned from holidays and re-filled the flattened bag inside my cancer-operated right breast, it managed to stay afloat over the weekend. Being careful to avoid sleeping on my stomach, or diving chest first into water from up high on the two storey lake raft seemed to help and on Monday there was still roundness to the bottom half of the breast. A call to my surgeon's office said to get in and get it filled to capacity- another 100 cc's. Total 200 cc's over a week, which is maximum for the bag I was given. If it continues to seep out (being only saline right now, it is never a problem. It will keep me hydrated if nothing else.One less glass of water I have to force down!) then I can keep getting it refilled at various emergency hospital areas. It is to stay inflated for 2 months before surgery removes it and the skin will have been considered stretched enough for the permanent real (I use that term loosely) implant which will be filled with silicone.

For now, the excitement of looking down at a filled bra is such a great feeling. I never dreamed or dared hope that this moment would ever come and here it is. I feel whole again! What a perfect day (except for the argument that I'm spending too much needlessly towards the book publishing. It sucks having a husband as your accountant. One I paid for would never talk to me like that-ha. Yes, I tried to fire him but it didn't work. Actually, if it weren't for Barry, I'd be in trouble with the tax people and it's only been three months in the Biz!He makes sure the eyes are dotted and the tees are crossed. I have to account for every frigging nickle. Excrutiating!)

Nothing compares to having your body back in one piece again.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Blowing Up The Boob

Ah, the boob saga sagged a bit, but it continues on once again. With Dr. V safely back and refreshed from holidays abroad, we set to the task of trying to refill the breast again with more saline. Since its collapse shortly after the last fill, it was assumed a hole had been accidentally poked in the bag that holds the saline.

When I called the surgeon's office, the receptionist replied, "I'm afraid it's more common than you think." But this stage is simply all about stretching skin. We're trying to slowly blow up the breast big enough to replace the saline bag with a permanent one- a thicker, tougher, unsinkable (my new personal life preserver!) silicone boob. I bet I will be able to bounce off of it, it sounds so impermeable.
But I digress, talking about what I can, might and will do with my new right breast once we get all this behind us.
On Wednesday this week I am before the surgeon who will decide between more surgery to replace what is in there and starting over again, or to keep topping me up if it's only a slow puncture ("Maybe it's hissing in there but we can't hear it, like a slow tire leak?" I said to Dr. V) Time will tell in the morning how deflated I get (morally and physically) Maybe I'd best sleep on my back?

Stay tuned for the next  saga of "the bouncing breast..."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bad News About the Re-Con Boob

...and just like a balloon, except it didn't fly around the room, my beautifully rounded saline filled boob went flat overnight.

For those not keeping up, I am a breast cancer survivor in the process of breast reconstruction. An expander with a fillable bag was inserted into my right breast through surgery and now it is to be gradually filled week-by-week until it matches the healthy breast's dimensions. Then this is removed and a solid silicone implant replaces it and I will be finished with the surgeries.

I was in for the third re-fill last week. It was a struggle to find the metal port the needle was to be inserted into on the aerola so that Dr. V could push more saline into the soft gelled bag recently sewn into my breast. As we were slowly having to expand the breast tissue, adding another 50 cc's every three weeks, I had been watching my breast swell larger and larger as the wrinkled lines in my skin and bra disappeared. I was loving the results!

But a mishap during insertion missed the portal and the needle plunged through the bag. "It's quite common, I'm afraid," the receptionist told me.
"We'll get your usual doctor to try again with 100 ccs of saline (when she returns from holidays) and if that doesn't hold, you'll have to be booked for another surgery to replace the expander and bag. I am so sorry..."
She's sorry? I'm sorry about how sorry my doctor is going to feel That's the worst of it.Really. To me it's more time, more healing, more learning the role of patience to get the things we want in life. Like becoming an author, a mother, a mother-in-law and one day a grandmother. It's all worth the wait, as this will be I imagine.

I am wearing a thumb splint as we speak on my left hand as I managed to give myself tendonitis by over-compensating for the post-surgical right arm's soreness. And I get to go through that again. More surgery, another four weeks to repair, another ten weeks of filling before a third surgery to remove the hardware and replace it with a permanent bag filled with silicone.

And like the balloon and my boob...I have to admit for a few minutes I was deflated once again.

SO... realizing the symptoms, I gathered myself and went shopping. First to the Farmers market for fresh kale and beet tops, to the A&W for a twister soft ice cream, to Field's to buy a relaxing pair of exercise pants before a long walk to clear my head.

It's working, although I'm determined not to look down or in a mirror again for quite some time.

In the meantime, I'll have to wait another month or so to continue with the breast recon saga.
Maybe I will start blogging about another part of my body.
 How about the burn on my butt from too much skin and not enough bathing suit material?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Part Three of Breast Recon- Third Fill

Picture a rubber balloon that is inflated. It's nice and firm from all sides. Round and bulbous. Now picture 1/2 of that balloon all shrivelled and deflated while the other half remains full and hard. That's the before and after of  a partial mastectomy surgery to remove a 9mm tumour.

As explained in  parts one and two, I had been through surgery to implant a breast tissue expander that would stretch the skin slowly over various "fills" so that eventually a permanent implant could replace it and my breast will look closer to what it had before this nightmare.

With the expander in place, the instant Dr. V inserted the needle into the portal (and we heard the faint "click" when that happened) my breast began to fill out the rubbery, wrinkled skin to a nice taut balloon surface again.

Size-wise, this blue plastic contraption sits in the palm of your hand. At the far right you see the magnetic "head" that slants straight up when the metallic portal in the expander implant is directly below. Dr. V marks the spot before inserting the syringe full of saline.

There was a slight problem finding the exact portal hole this time. It required a second freezing deeper into the area and a slight joke about putting me out for the two minutes this would take to empty the syringe into my breast, but the moment passed. The right spot was found, my toes uncurled and I held the gauze to my areola until Dr. V covered it with a band-aid.
As I pulled up the sundress I had arrived in, I noticed how my breast filled the sewn-in cup much better than it had ten minutes ago. The nipple that faced my armpit had begun to swing straighter, facing NE instead of due north. The wrinkles were gone! One more fill, another 40 cc's and then we waited for it to "settle" before removing it with another surgery.

I will have to get myself measured before that happens to see if I need any more saline or if that is enough. The skin has to stretch far enough to contain and close in the new implant, a real one that will stay firm and round for as long as I live. What a sweet deal! I'm telling you, I am so wonderfully happy with the entire process I could cry.

I came out of this experience on the plus side, I would say. It only cost me a few years of my life, but hey- the girls will be looking better than ever before.
Now if they could do something about the wrinkley balloon issues elsewhere on this 50 year-old chassis!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Patience Please

Today I had my third fill of the right breast. It was a bit of an ordeal, so I'll have to take time to fill you in. BUT, I am up to my armpits in the final edits of the mystery Not Just One, coming out in September. If, that is, I get this edit done and get it to the typesetter before she quits waiting on me and takes another job. Stressful and we know that's bad for I promise to get the next blog up on the boob as soon as I'm able. I have more pictures.
It's all good though. It's getting bigger ...and bigger....and...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Part Two of Breast Recon- Second Fill

 Tuesday morning rolled around full of dark, threatening clouds and cool moisture in the air. I layered my clothing choice, knowing in the back of my mind I was slightly nervous about the next step in the breast reconstruction. That usually spelled multiple hot flashes, urges to urinate at the worst time and a craving for chocolate. Simultaneously.
Silly because I end up dressed in a hospital gown and left on a guernsey in the clinic's procedure room until Dr. V appears. Her small hands are encased in surgical gloves and a smile has settled upon her face. She has been down this road before and although my confidence is lacking, her's more than compensates.
A bottle of saline is opened and a syringe bigger than an entire bonus-size tube of toothpaste appears. Saline is poured into a smaller cup and the syringe held over top to suck up fifty cc's of it.

Below is a picture of the expander that was implanted into my breast four weeks prior in the Prince George hospital by the plastic surgeon. A metal portal sits on top of a bag previously filled with 60 cc's of saline to get me started. Dr. V must use a special magnified tool she rubs across the breast searching for the exact pinpoint where the needled syringe can be inserted to fill the implant a bit more. I will be a total of 200 cc's spread across twelve weeks with four sessions, enough to replace the half cup of breast removed through the partial mastectomies endured during the breast cancer removal.

When the small arm on the blue plastic finder stands straight up, Dr. V knows she has found the exact spot and marks the place on my skin with a felt pen. She then thankfully freezes the breast area, having to go in sideways to the flesh so not to pierce the implant bag. Wouldn't want any internal leaks even though for now it's only saline solution being injected. Eventually this filled bag and expander will be removed in another surgery and replaced with a permanent silicone bag of equal size. It is done in stages like this as the breast tissue has undergone multiple rounds of intense radiation to kill any lingering cancer cells. This causes the skin to lose it's pliability- the ability to stretch as it once did. Or as I tell everyone,I've been microwaved and like a piece of chicken the skin has become dense. One tough boobie- don't you know it! To be cont'd.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Steady On The Boob ...

It has taken close to four weeks for the swelling in my breast to calm down enough to begin the next stage of breast reconstruction.
"Why are you so amazed?" my friends ask.
My previous two breast surgeries to remove the tumour and then more tissue and lymph nodes seemed to heal faster, or is that simply an ADD timeless mind at work. Why do we bother to wear a watch? Time means nothing- I can't tell the difference between a week and a month. And never ask me what day it is on the spot.
But not being able to jump and run feels super long, long enough to find me a bit breathless on a twenty minute sojourn this morning. With three sports bras of varying tightness cinching my breasts to my chest, I put on the most-hip-shaking music I own on my Ipod and wiggled and bounced my way up the driveway, shaking fists at the blue sky in triumph, raising my knees to my mid-section with the beat as the sweat trickled.
Isn't being alive the best? Especially when you put yourself to the test once in awhile. Make your body perform, push it a little, see how it responds. Mine loved it, like a captured horse suddenly freed of the pen. A writer freed from the keyboard. Shake it..shake it..ooh...shake it....shake it.
Tomorrow is my favourite exercise- senior's aquafit. What a great all-body strengthening class. With Sunny Sue and her inspirational tunes lifting us up, it's a marvy way to start one's day. Mon, Wed and Friday at the Houston Leisure facility, 9-9:45.
Tuesday is running with Sandi, now that I'm back to moving faster than walking.
Then Sandi and I meet again at her clinic for the first breast expander filling.
I'll try harder to get pictures!
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Breast Reconstruction Goes Ahead

"It's fine the way it is," my husband tells me.
"You look in the mirror at it then," I reply, making a face at the disfigured breast and the new way my nipple wanders off in the wrong direction. I pull my housecoat on.
 Between the partial mastectomy and a follow-up surgery to get more margin around the tumour in my right breast it looked like a grapefruit whose bottom had gone rotten. It wrinkled and sagged although the top remained full.
Chances were good that what was left would collapse. It happened to a fellow friend and survivor. We compared notes and the work of our surgeon . Why would hers collapse and not mine?
Answer? Just wait. The bulbous post surgical swelling finally dissipated and I was left with a breast disfigured in a new way. I had almost adjusted to the mis-aligned "headlight"  now facing more toward my armpit than straight. The cause of this? A lymph node "mining" incision under my arm pit. Seven nodes later, a second armpit or hollow was formed beneath my arm. A little difficult to shave as it narrows greatly at the bottom. But I digress!

Once it collapsed. the right breast now resembled a grapefruit with the far right side curled into itself much like a deflated balloon.  Dr. V, my boob doc put in the recommendation to see our closest plastic surgeon, a Dr. K in Prince George. I had seen Dr. K on occasion for a face issue and while there for that, mentioned I was now on her surgical consult waiting list. I was bold, taking my advice about being your own best advocate, and asked if she would take a quick look to see if I would be a breast implant candidate or not to bother with her time.

I scored big that day as the doctor had a spare minute for me to put an examination gown on. The verdict: the loose skin from the collapse seemed supple enough, even after 16 rounds of radiation to place a bag of silicone in to pump it back up to better match my left side. It could be done quickly and the doctor hoped  sooner than later with such a minor infraction.

Or so I understood. We all know who she was dealing with, right?

Personally, I think my deceased mother was once again working her magic. If I managed to jump the quay, it was for a higher purpose. So that I could write about my experience to help the next woman in line. Whether merely to quell her anxiety or to point out options, it was all help in the right direction.

Surgery day arrived. I met Dr. K in the day-surgery area where I was gowned and ready. She pulled the curtains around the bed I waited in and had me remove the draping for close-up pictures of my right breast. The before shot, I figured.

For the first time ever, I walked into the surgical theater and hopped onto the table. Seconds later I was out cold.
Thinking I was waking up to a mere silicone implant, I was surprised to hear there hadn't been enough flexible tissue as Dr. K had hoped for. An expander had been inserted into my breast. An expander is mostly an empty bag with a metal portal on top. After inserted and sewn in, the doctor takes a syringe and finding the metal portal on the top of the inserted bag using a magnetic device, inserts the needle into the bag, pumping 60 cc's of saline into it.

Once home, I had to leave the bandaging on for a week. Once uncovered I noticed the great job the doc had done following the previous scars. It took another four weeks for the incision to heal enough to see my regular Dr. V again for the second "fill."

Once I have had a total of 200 ccs of saline put in over a course of two months, Dr. K will then perform another surgery to remove the saline filled bag and expander for a permanent silicone bag of equal size.

The next blog will be on the stages that followed this priocedure. With any hopes I will get a copy of the before and after X Rated boob shots.

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Off and Running To the Lake

We're off and running to Francois Lake for a birthday/ Father's Day weekend for Barry. Packed with coolers of seafood for a fave chowder, we're adorned in shorts and t-s in hopes that blue sky holds.
It's the Premier Boat Launch and fresh trout time. If we can just remember to put the plug in the boat and to unhook  before launch we'll be laughing. Then to get all the beds in the cabin made up with tendinitis in the left wrist and a sore post-surgery right-side. Ahhh, but we have all weekend for that. And maybe I won't bother doing the floors this week. One step at a time and that goes for cleaning. Leaving my editing behind. Break time.There's a lawn chair and I have a great book to read. Heck, I think it might even be ice-cream cone time. Gonna juice-it-up! These are the days we live for.
Have a fine weekend wherever you are!

And a Happy Father's Day to my Dad, my number one hero. Thinking of you!! xoxo

Monday, June 10, 2013

Successful First Book Launch/ Tour

Life on the road literally picked me up by the shirt and flew me through the calendar days.
The Grand Launch of my first books anywhere began in Prince George on May 10 at Books & Company. I wrapped my arms around my first customer,  a friend of my sister-in-law's  who had expressed interest in the book. The stream of customers continued and my nervous doubt was eliminated. By the end of the launch, I was an author, complete with cape and sword, ready to save lives from cancer one person at a time.
We relayed in PG on the 11th and went home to launch again in Burn's Lake on the following Tuesday. Burns Lake was a book signing at PharmaSave and my first library reading. An audience of five, which I was told was a good turnout,  was more like a gab session with girlfriends. I read, we talked, I read, we talked some more. It was wonderful.
Houston greeted me with flowers at AquaFit and a line-up at Brewstirs coffee-shop for signings and books. The day ended with a signing at Countrywide Stationary in Houston, a dream come true. Signing books at my local bookstore. I was a bit weepy at times. Thanks everyone for your support! My reading that night was also well attended by close to a dozen well wishers. You could have heard a pin drop as I read.
Off for breast recon surgery on May 23 in PG  before arriving in Quesnel May 25th for a busy book signing at CaryAll Books.The next day relay was cool, but so much fun with my teenager-team the Fighters For Life.
 Terrace saw another busy book signing at Misty River Books and a later library reading with an audience of six.
Prince Rupert was also a great place to be. The people there were so inspirational. I got to give back by doing the Fight Back speech.
But Smithers. Smithers was the best of them all. My team mates were young mother's and babies. So occupied in their everyday lives but still finding time to raise funds and promote a life without cancer. Their team snack table rocked! All fruit and healthy snacks like vegis and dips and wholesome cookies. Together we survived the cold and rain and sun and wind until 11 when I gave a different speech- this time a fight back/ luminary speech. My most powerful of them all. I then had the honour of lighting my candle first from the candle lit at the beginning of the ceremony by a young boy with leukemia, before I left the stage and began to light others. It was a touching moment.
I went home by 1 in the morning, crawling into a soft, warm bed supplied by our close friends from Telkwa. I slept well knowing the relays for me were over for another year.
Today I realized I would be able to sit down and work on editing the first of the two mysteries, Not Just One, which excites me to no end. That book was written possibly 5 years ago or more. I have some work to do before it returns to my editor who's suggestions for changes I'll make before he really gets down to the pro edit part of getting a book to the publishing aspect.
Back in the writer's chair again. It is just so exciting. Now to switch hats from non-fiction to mystery. Now, where was it I hid that murder weapon???

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Different Communities Different Relays

Hopefully you take the time to attend at least one Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life,  not because you have or have had cancer, but because you're interested in what goes on. For many (too many) it is an annual pilgrimage to celebrate their survival of the disease or to honour someone that didn't. Because of the book tour I had the privilege of attending four, this Saturday being my last this season in Smithers.

Celebrate...Remember...Fight Back...

Funny how the spin of this slogan differentiated at each community. Small distinctions, but noticeable.

In Prince George, the only  remaining 24 hour relay, team tents were set-up three rows deep on the one side of the track. The inside track was reserved for team's raising over a certain level of donations, like the Pink Panters team I was on. That tells you the amount of people attending. At the usual invitational Survivor's Tea before our walk began, there were treats piled high, all labelled with their ingredients. The date squares called at me until I relinquished and delighted at the energy I got to run the track with for a bit. It rained and blew hard enough to break my umbrella stand, but still the 24 hour trekkers kept going, about eight people doing the entire day themselves. There were amazing prizes for big earners like a car, a trip to anywhere ( the winner planning to go to NFLD) and helicopter rides. There was plenty going on at any given time.

 In Quesnel I was with a team of teenagers and we walked the only grassy track of the relays, my team captain Kyhla on crutches from a soccer injury. It rained again but more gently. A few tents sold items to raise money but hot dog and perogie/cabbage roll vendors were on site, which cut into other food sales. Our hands were painted for the survivor  banner  I rercall the first time I did this was last year in Houston- my first year cancer free. I made my hand in the shape of "the bird" before blue dye was applied and I planted it on the banner for posterity. .My team had made beautiful tye-dyed shirts to sell, each with colourful cancer symbols that could be further decorated on the spot. I couldn't stay for the Luminary ceremony being fresh from surgery the morning before.

Terrace complained there was a drop in attendees as Kitimat, Terrace and Prince Rupert Relays were on the same day. Still a good crew walked in thesunny panoramic mountain view after giving our autograph's for a banner to be displayed. Extremely original and creative fundraisers circled the track, from quilt raffles to cupcake icing, a message board and fresh hamburgers. We stayed until after lunch and headed west.

In Prince Rupert, I lost my heart. There, a small remainder of walkers greeted me upon arrival mid-afternoon, fresh from the Terrace relay. The bulk of donors and well-wishers had stayed for the opening ceremonies and kick-off then departed, leaving a representative to walk the track. Brian, a man not in the best of shape, walked in long strides in honour of someone still facing their battles. He walked the entire twelve hour, collecting a bead to put on a necklace for around his neck after each lap passed. His face was beet red, his swollen feet sticking to the socks changed every few hours, his face set with determination. But the smile, the smile never slipped nor did the attitude. A standing ovation greeted him after his last lap of the 30 circular  miles. Paper lanterns appeared and we lit them as well as the luminaries, barely visible but enough as twilight began to descend. Being so close to the longest day of the year and further north than the other communities, it never really got pitch black out until long after the last tail lights had left the school track.

This Saturday is Smither's turn. Knowing some of the people will be fun. Being in the shadow of my favourite mountain, the one I stared at from a chemotherapy chair in the Smither's Cancer Unit will be comforting as well. I'm on a team called Bubs and Babes- what is a Bub I wonder and what does it wear? I was thinking Grandmas and Hotties but I'm now thinking it's Moms and Tots. It will be fun no matter what. Especially if babies are involved.
 Maybe see you there?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

One Thousand Hits!

Thanks everyone for getting me to my goal. Hopefully you keep hitting and reading. Now that I'm home, I should be able to get back to a weekly blog of thrilling excitement in the Smith household and their attitude towards health and staying positive ( are you listening Barry?).

I'm in sunny Terrace, after a fun book reading at the local library and a very successful book launch at Misty River Books, despite our lack of newspaper advertising. It's so rewarding listening to people/s stories and how they want to hear more about this disease's effect on loved ones. Why they should try to avoid getting cancer. What cancer treatment is REALLY like!
And, of course, the chocolate macaroons are a big hit!
We camped overnight in my beautiful friend Terry's drive-way in my trailer. Barry will soon get sick of my singing "I LOVE my trailer" ever few minutes. (Thanks again Kelly  for "giving" it to me for my travels on this cause!) Terry joined us at  the new Blue Fin Sushi Bar in Terrace- just as high quality of food, prep and presentation. Great staff, ambiance and service. That Cindy runs a class act!- before coming to the Library Reading. Very informal and a way to talk one-on-one with people trying to understand. I receive so many hugs and I love each and every one.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Glimpse at Breast Cancer Reconstruction

Ow. Again. But this time it wasn't to remove cancer. It was to put some volume back to refill the old brassiere. Like some girls in high school when they stuffed their empty cups with half a box of Kleenex. Same deal. Only they use things like silicone and saline to refill your boob these days. Yes, they're back to silicone as they "say" its safe again. Better bags- was that a zip lock I saw them place in there?

Okay, so I went under the knife at approximately 8 a.m., having been in day surgery since 6 getting gowned and weighed, checked for dentures or other air passage blockers. The anesthetist came by and explained why I could not have my old stand-by of a spinal tap as they couldn't get it to cover such a high area on the body. Okay. General anesthetic it will be. At least now I don't smoke and will recover quickly from any coughing issues the GA leaves with me.

I am walked down to the OR and told to hop up on the bed. This is new, I've always been rolled down on a gurney. I am splayed out like Christ on the cross, left arm strapped to a board, the right one splayed out on a different board that shoots straight out from the table. There is a sun above my head, as big and round as a Prince George pot hole that will get turned on seconds after I receive something " to relax me." I beseech the anesthetist to make my martini not too dry and with lots of ice and am out before he can reply. Was I served olives with that 'cause damn, I'm hungry?

I awake with my surgeon telling me something I don't get, placing some items to pass on to my regular doctor. I sleep again. I awake. I sleep. I don't remember getting up and leaving, going straight to bed at my in-laws, awaking in time for the dinner bell before back to bed. I am sore along the right side as to be expected but can't see anything as one large gauze pad is securely taped right across the right breast.

In the morning I am popping pain pills, heavy duty ones that make my eyes cross, but we load up and head to Quesnel for a book signing at a busy lottery/book store call Caryall Books. Barry helps by unloading my gear (all stashed in an over-sized suitcase, and one sandwich board with a carry-strap) and a case of books. We do well here. I talk to many people, handing out samples of Crystal deodorant wipes as a way to start standing up to cancer by eliminating toxins in your life.

We overnight with friends and I'm in bed very early, the pain creeping up before climbing down after popping more pills. As long as it's hurting, I can't get addicted they say. That's great because there is pain. But it fades quickly and I flip around trying to find a comfortable way to sleep. I decide lying on my good side with a pillow sandwiched between my arm and side of the surgery is best. I remember this from my previous two surgeries.

I do the Relay for Life on the Saturday with a great bunch of girls on the team Fighters 4 Life. They've made tye-dyed shirts to sell so I get one, filling the girls with watermelon and my macaroons to boot. Back to our friends that night by dinner time as again the rain came down and spoiled the relay event enough to make me leave. I couldn't afford to get sick at this stage of the game. Three more relays to go!

It appears I did not get a bag of silicone inserted into a cut made along my original breast surgery scars from the partial mastectomy. An expander was put in, along with an empty bag which gets filled by syringe once every four weeks. That lets the radiated skin get a chance to stretch as its filled. Like getting braces I imagine? A bit at a time of tightening and stretching. It will be funny to watch my breast expand a bit more every month when Sandi fills it. Like blowing up a balloon in slow-mo. Only problem is the surgery side is swollen and firm again while the other breast sags to above my belly button. I had to go braless today in a tight-topped dress and found myself dragging the good side up to the same level as the surgical side on the half hour. Nothing like watching a 50 year-old digging around inside her shirt every few minutes. Good grief. Handling myself. They'll have me committed. Like watching a monkey in a cage have sex with itself.

But, correct behaviour or not, I'm in for the experience and hopefully for a better self-image and bra-fit. I'm pleased to say at this stage, the far-right pointed nipple has re-aligned a little to the left, so that was a bonus. But who knows where it will end up in three or four months? Pointing back at the other nipple? Like car headlights badly out of adjustment. A person could go blind looking at them.
Well, as long as they don't both point straight south. That I would have a problem with.

I'll keep you posted on the drama of it all. I'm off to pop another Ibuprofen which is working well with food and just as good as the big guns did. Just not for as long. Off I go...quickly!

Less Than 500 HITS to reach 10,000!

Thanks everyone, for helping me get over the 10,000 mark. For that and the reviews coming in daily at once finished reading Running From Cancer: a tilted memoir. It's YOU that will help me succeed at getting the word to stand up and fight back against cancer to as many people as need to hear it.

I made the first move today toward getting the book sanctioned by the Canadian Cancer Society. I was told they don't back things like books, but who knows. I told them I was interested in being the next Fight Back poster girl for the CCS. And a want to promote a line of pink/black and white cammo Fight Back gear with sizing for cadets, soldiers and officers ( two levels of pricing and quality). You wouldn't believe the interest in the pants I bought for my Fight Back/ Relay outfit. They have become an icon overnight.

Whatever works to get the book into hands of people wanting to change- just enough to change from running to standing firm.

Books are available locally at Countrywide Books, or get a signed copy through me at home, 250-845-7793 locally, or through my website at Kindle version through Coming July 25, e-pub and all other e-book forms. Sorry for that inconvenience. It's a game Amazon plays for exclusivity. It did me no favours. Live and learn.
The next book will be much easier to market.

Now about finding that young cleaning lady looking for a great business idea to help her on herway. Imagine, Non-Toxic house cleaning. It's possible. I just need to find the right person to set-up on this great journey.

I'm an IDEA girl, not a do-it-myself girl. It was all I could do to focus long enough to get a book up and running. It might have stayed  in a dresser drawer with the four others in there. See how fast I get ideas to reality?
 I hope you're going forward to make your own dreams come true. It feels so right when it happens.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Off and Running...Again

After getting home late from the lake last night, we are again packing madly for another road trip- this time to Prince George for Archie Smith's 87th birthday. Sounds like Chinese food and cake. It's all good (I'll be taking my brown rice as we're doing take-out, so easy enough to health it up a bit).
Wednesday finds us straining our backs picking the wild fiddleheads, which if you don't know what they are, can be read about  at
(It's an old article of mine still on-line. Note the beautiful hair...sigh).

Thursday finds me once again beneath the surgeon's knife- operation number three, this time for reconstructive surgery. Dr. K is implanting a silicone bag to help fill my bra out. There's been strap slippage and snaps coming undone at the most unsuspected and always unfortunate times. Try onstage. Egad! It's a 1.5 hour surgery, five hours out of my life and not sure how long for recovery. If you asked me, there would be NO time for recovery as the next day I have a book signing in Quesnel from 1-3 at Caryall Books (I pre-signed them- smart, eh?) Hopefully I won't be too stoned and drooling at perspective customers. That night we're staying with our great friends Don and Veronica (another survivor) at their new home outside of Quesnel. The next day is the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life and I'll be with my team of teenagers called Fighters 4 Life, with a speaking engagement at 4 pm centre-field. I treated us to the Billy Barker Casino and Motel that night before we whirlwind back to Houston on Sunday, with Barry working in Burns Lake on the Monday. I get tired simply reading about it.

The following week is Terrace and Prince Rupert and the week after that we finally make it to Smithers where I will be signing and doing a reading on the Friday and the relay on the Saturday. I will be giving the Luminary Speech at midnight, a somber tribute to the fallen cancer patients which I plan to follow with a Fight back message.
Bill Myers, my techno whiz is working on a "feedback" or "Review" page so readers can let me know what they think about the book, if there's any typos, corrections (Sandi found 3 and my Mother-in-law three. I spelled her sister's name wrong. It's Joleen, not Jolene. First line, first chapter. Sheesh)
Other than that, we are immensely happy, the books are selling well, and Lindsay has found her wedding dress. What more in life could we ask for, besides Grandkids? Ha.
Stay tuned....there will be a blog on the Bigger Boob coming soon...just what does it feel like to have a breast implant? Personally I'm trying not to think about that at the moment. I'm in my usual pose of head down and ass up, plowing through to the next adventure. Watch out everyone. Stand back, this might hurt...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Curried Quinoa Salad

The best new summer recipe- almost a meal in a bowl. Check it out at in the recipe section. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Running From Cancer: a tilted memoir

Somebody pinch me. (Not too hard, I still bruise easy?)

The book that began as a suggestion from my daughter Karly to "blog" my trip down the Cancer Freeway, is finally available for the general public to hold in their hands.

I don't have to wonder if the story will inspire or aid another traveler. It already has. That's all I ever hoped for: that someone could learn from what I went through. How to stop running from cancer. Learn to stand up and fight it for all you're worth. Not just after a diagnosis but before. Like right now. It's never too early to fight cancer.

As Catherine Aird said, "If you can't be a good example- then you'll just have to be a terrible warning." I resemble that remark. Anxious and afraid of words like surgery and chemotherapy, I fought everything instead of concentrating on the disease itself.

I know better and expect to live a long and fruitful life. My anti-cancer prevention belt has been tightened and I refuse to return to my old habits that dragged me down that road in the first place.

By reading this book, I hope you will be inspired to start tightening your own cancer prevention belt before you become one of the 500 Canadians a DAY diagnosed with cancer. Of those, 200 will die from it. But thanks to the generosity of good folks like you, new technology is constantly being funded and founded to save the lives of people like myself  And I can't thank you enough. If it wasn't for the cancer societies, my cancer never would have been detected as early as it was. Good thing as it had already escaped into a lymph node headed to the bloodstream and other points unknown. Cancer is scary stuff.

So don't mess with it. Get the book and read the 10 ways to prevent getting cancer, or use the twenty helpful tips if you do have cancer. Enjoy my favourite healthy recipes, just a few to put you on the right path.

Available through my website at (signed if you'd like), through as a pocketbook, Kobo or Kindle e-book (e-pub released September 1st). Available through local bookstores across North America.

A portion of every book sale is donated to the Bulkley Valley Health Care and Hospital Foundation. It's the beginning of fundraising I hope to do to expediate getting a new piece of equipment for the Smithers hospital. A CT scanner be a world of help to cancer and other patients alike.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's's COMING !!!!!!!

The matte printed version of Running From Cancer will be in my hands May 10th in Prince George, just in time for the Relay for Cancer I will be attending there.
It should be available in Kindle e-version by morning. E-pub has to wait 90 days I'm afraid. Sorry e-pubers!!! It's's exclusivity clause. 
A glossy pocketbook version will be available to order from by Monday hopefully! It's's coming!!

REAL IMPORTANT: If you get a copy PLEASE take the time to leave a "review." I need 35 reviews before I can hit a certain marketing level for the next stage. Whatever that is?

If it does well here, we can take it across Canada! Oh JOY!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Trout or Tuna Stuffed Tomato Recipe

It's warming up outdoors! Time for some new salad recipes or side vegetables to pump up those anti-oxidants.

Check out the latest called Trout or Tuna  Stuffed Tomatoes at under the Healthier-Option recipes.

Do you have a super healthy recipe you want to share? Send it to me at

If I LOVE it and it's simple enough to try, you might find it on my next recipe blog.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Counting The Days

My nights have become rodeos as I flip wildly back and forth, mumbling about stage fright and book prices in Australia and worrying will my book, Running From Cancer, make it here in time for the first cancer relay? 
My husband tried pinning me with his thigh, but the resulting carpet burn on his forehead got too many laughs the next day.A lasso wasn't any help.  He was eyeing up the staple gun last I saw him. Could be another book to be written? Running From Insomnia.

Toss, turn. Turn, toss.My thoughts are on steroids blasting in every direction...did I order enough business cards, will the brown bags hold up if someone buys three books instead of one. What should I say to complete strangers before I sign their book? Will anyone want their book signed?

I have received the finalized manuscript gallies and now am told I have to WAIT a week before Lightening Source approves the application for publication. I had ASKED if there was something I could do to speed the process up. "We've got overwhelmed by applications lately," the salesman said.  I could have reached through the phone and choked him had the ear piece in my hand been bigger. A pressure cooker?
 I also have to wait for the head of the northern relays to assess my speech material I e-mailed last week to see if she will endorse my appearance at other relays. I hold my breath for that as well. Once I get the okay, I can send out flyer posters- oh wait, the local printer ran out of black ink which will arrive soon and then I can get the posters...
I am at the mercy of a process I don't even understand. One of my three Genie wishes would be for patience. The other two would involve an anti-aging solution so I would feel like I HAD time to wait for everything!
Remember, there are three more books to go...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

People are asking about when the book Running From Cancer is due to arrive.

The manuscript is in the  hands of a company in California for final edit, interior design and typesetting. The company will also be turning it into other formats like epub and kindle for e-book sales. Once the material returns, I still have to go over it one more time before sending it back for uploading to the two different publishing houses. LighteningSpace for the print and for the e-books.
LighteningSpace will see the book into all the major chains in the U.S. and into Canada. Whether or not the book is ordered by your independent local bookstore will be up to the buzz we can create about it. That's why I will be calling on everyone for favours like visiting my blog site as often as possible and clicking on different blogs to view (you can click up to nine times in a row. I need to get the number over 10,000. It's at 8,000 now. So close.)

When the book is out, hopefully by May 15, 2013 writing your review of it on the Amazon website is crucial for its future. Once I have 35 reviews, I can get it into a more mainstream outlet to take it to the next level.

My job is to stand on stages and in front of rooms full of people to deliver my Fight Back speal. The old quit Running From Cancer and stand up to it. Give it the kick in the pants it deserves. Stop  those rising numbers of 200,000 people a year hearing that they have joined this crappy club.
It's time to get tough with yourself NOW, not after you learn you have cancer. Get educated. You need to arm  your immune system with the weapons to withstand the onslaught when it happens. You need to drink more water than wine, get oxygenated through daily exercise and eat 10 fruits and vegetables a day. Less red meat, more nuts and beans. There are more tips in the book.

A lot of what I repeat is from research compiled over the past two years. Most of it is common sense, but some times common sense isn't so common.

So look for me coming to a community near you soon. In May and June I will be covering northern B.C. at the Relay for Cancer runs. The Terry Fox Run in September and the CIBC Run For The Cure in October. Where, I have yet to find out but I will post a schedule once I get one finalized.

Until then, thanks for hanging in there with me. Patience never was a big factor in my life.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Running From Publishing

The excitement continues to roll as the date of publication for Running From Cancer  looms nearer. I think another book title could be Running From Publishing. It's such a confusing world I know nothing about.
It wouldn't be the first time I whirl-winded headfirst into something completely out of my element. I wonder how painful this hard landing might be?
The next two books should be much easier to get out, I'm hoping.

My pink and black camo pants have arrived from California  I ordered size 9/10 as comments said they ran small. I normally take a 5/6.  Sure enough, they are like a comfortable girdle. Perfect length and they DO fit, just tighter than I like for being on a stage. Never know when a zipper is going to blow out from a last minute 'panic-carb.' In front of how many people???

I plan to dress in these pants with Mom's black ball cap with the pink cancer symbol on the front and Fredericton, N.B. on the back. Black army boots for walking the tracks at the multiple relays across the north over May and June, together with my first CIBC run-for-the-cure t-shirt I got in 2006 in Prince George. It was my first cancer run and I was more interested in seeing if I could last the 5 km than I was about talking to people about cancer. I donated to the 'good cause' not realizing what that meant.

Now that I do, I'm determined to help others wake up and see the big picture. After giving three cancer-related speeches in the past two years, there has been enthusiastic replies to my offers to speak at the various relays in northern B.C. The Relays start in May and end in June.

Cancer is here people, and its determined to stay. Which it will, continuing to mow us down until changes are made. Remember when we all used to smoke cigarettes?  Same thing. It took years, but the change came. Now the smokers are the minority in Canada. Maybe we can do that with the cancer numbers. Reverse the rise?

I bought yellow paint for the wood easel I will be propping the HOPE sign and stuffed buddy Homer, from the book, on to take with me across B.C.
 There has been pricing for a stand-up banner with the book cover on it for promotions,business cards with the book logo and book display holders and I still need to get professional pictures taken. That will be hard this week when my face connected with some hard snow on Sunday and it looks like Barry punched me in the face. It's very big, very purple and a pound of beige 'white-out' only makes it look worse.

My name is Sergeant  DebiLyn Smith of the army against cancer and I fight back... Ha.

All this is why I haven't phoned or written or had anyone over lately.
Thanks for your patience! xo

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Web Site Changes

A large thanks goes out to my guru web site master programmer  Bill MyersRetED DSD WTD, who has patiently sorted through the change of mind, typo riddled, lah-lah land suggestions for up-grading the website at

I found  the Alphabetical Cancer Prevention tips everyone commented on were getting buried beneath the other blogs, never to be found any other way except by date. Hmmm. When did that tip on what kind of water is best to drink appear? What year was that even? See?

So Mr. Bill has given us another area to click on to get right to where we want to go. W is for water, L is for lemons, t for toxins. It's up and ready to try. I have a few changes to make to up-grade some of the blogs- I hope to get to that soon.

On the book front, the cover details have been handed over by the designer and are now mine to copyright.

Today I received a very generous and helpful discount from my local bookstore, Countrywide Printing in Houston on two easels to take with me for my Relay for cancer  Fight Back speeches. The one easel will hold Homer- my mother's stuffed bear that helped my sister Kim and I through her passing. Homer was at my side for the cancer ride and will remain beside me as long as I need his help. The easel will also display the "Hope" sign a twelve year old girl from Burns Lake painted and donated to the Terry Fox run and annual fund-raising auction. I told her when my book was published, her painting would travel with me to help spread the news that yes, there is hope. You can quit running from cancer and stand up and fight back. Now would be a good time to start. Before you get cancer.

A second easel with a roll of paper so I can write down the key points of my talk. This will eliminate the paper I usually hold in front of my face. The one I drop, or that will blur in and out of focus in my stage fright phase.
The pink cammo pants, and black army boots from e-bay are on their way and once here, I go for a hair cut and professional pictures for the posters. I want to keep my hair short for  when I face others going through  what I did. I used to hyper focus on women's hair, not able to get over how beautiful it looked on them. I don't want that to happen to someone I am trying to get through to. I want them to hear the encouragement, the hope, the strength that I will try to pass on.
Because I believe cancer CAN be beaten.
And I believe the rising number of cancer deaths can be slowed down or reversed if people learned to take a harder look at what it takes to win this war. Never forget that you have to kill cancer before it kills you. It's never too early to start fighting.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Running From Cancer is Finally A Real Book

Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for the upcoming book cover of Running From Cancer. It was a fantastic adventure where I opened a "contest" which was sent out through a company called 99designs to all available designers. It seemed like most of the contestants were young adults from all over the world who submitted their interpretation of my work. One jacket cover had two big breasts with one looking like it was cracking up, another had a picture of two red cherries connected by a stem, but one of the cherries (breast) had come off the stem. Intuitive and brilliant. I got to personally talk to and work with the designers which is embarrassing at times when you don't know exactly what you want. They would make a change and I would not like it and would feel like quitting before asking for yet another change. But it all worked out and I am so pleased that so many of you chose the one I liked best as your first or even second choice.

The cover with the pink vortex in the background and the woman running away from it ( a few thought she was running towards it, possibly towards "the light" as in death) was confusing to many and even though it took second place, I think it was more for the brightness and less pinkness of it all.

The next stage to get this book off the ground is a trip to the "hairdresser" or interior book designer. She will start all the paragraphs and words in the right places, check all the quotation marks go the right way and change the font and sentence length among 100 other things you couldn't possibly imagine. It gets to her March 15th for 2-4 weeks before returning to me in a PDF "upload-ready" file. Then I can take the cover file, my ISBN and bar code files and the text files and upload them to an e-publisher (Amazon Kindle) and a  publisher/distributor Lightening Source or?? I will purchase 500 books to hit the road with in May and June across B.C. to promote during cancer fundraisers.

I have a choice of two speeches I give at the fundraisers, one a wake-up call from Sergeant DebiLyn Smith, who has come to kick your butts into cancer fighting warriors. The second is a" look what happened to me and why do you think it won't happen to you" talk about the raging "forest fire" our bodies can no longer stamp out when our immune systems aren't running optimally.
I have already picked up some Adivan. Public speaking is up there with bikini waxing - I fret until the time comes and then feel ill as it happens. I also scream inside my head at both.

For sure everyone will be advised when Running From Cancer is available, I imagine in an e-book format on first.
It's getting hard to sleep for the excitement of the book becoming something I can hold and sniff and sleep with. We are already working on editing the next book called Your First, in my Running From Mystery series.
And just think, I have cancer to thank for all of this. Life is so funny sometimes.