Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Heartbreaking Reality of Cancer

Everything within our power must be done to eradicate this devastating disease. My beautiful, talented, brilliant daughter travelled from diagnosis to death along the halls of fear, despair and hope for 6.5 years. Cancer, is a devastating disease because of what it robs you of. It isn't just physical, it's also mental and emotional, as I can attest after witnessing my daughter's world get smaller and smaller. It broke my heart to watch her adjusting her dreams to fit into the parameters of ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia). Nausea, fevers, endless trips to emergency, were just a few of the symptoms. Alexis was a team player, willing to do whatever it took to get well again, so, when she lost her hair, she bravely smiled and said, 'it would grow back' when she was nauseas she patiently waited for the nausea to pass, when she ached in every joint in her body from the steroids she accepted it because steroids made the chemo work better. When she had high fevers that brought her to the hospital's emergency department she patiently waited until they passed and she could go home. When she relapsed she willingly submitted to a stem cell transplant with all the pain that accompanies one. As she experienced the relentless progression of Cancer I watched her world get smaller, finishing school, travelling, having children were all being taken from her and with each loss she adjusted her attitude and tried to find a new dream, something that would fit into a compromised life. Cancer is vicious not just for the obvious physical ordeal that must be endured but also for the unbearable sadness that comes with the realization that the life you thought was yours, the life that everyone around you enjoyed was never going to happen. When Alexis died we were devastated, but as I watched my daughters 'joyeux de vive' slowly fade into her last breath, I think THAT, more than anything else is the most heartbreaking aspect of Cancer. To donate copy and paste this link:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Alexis has incredible friends, they're love for her is so strong that they each chose to honour her memory in the most wonderful way and so, there are now 4 beautiful children named after her. I feel so honoured that her friends would want their children to have Lex's name, it speaks to her kindness, her character, her beautiful self. All we have in life is our good name, nothing else matters in the end except how we treat each other, were we kind, considerate, giving, were we honest, a good friend, trustworthy. Alexis at such a young age already exhibited many if not all of these qualities, and she was loved for it. Ask yourself how will you be remembered, how do you want to be remembered, maybe the possibility that someone will think so highly of you that they will name their child for you is incentive enough to be a better person. Alexis's death is an even bigger tragedy for her inability to become the adult she was destined to be, but if this is her legacy, I am so proud.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

5 Years

December 29, 2015 marked 5 years since we lost our Lex. So much has happened in those 5 years as we have been living our lives moving through time. While the years have passed we have continued to grieve and to miss Lex daily, sometimes hourly, surprisingly the sadness is still almost as intense as when she died. There are vivid memory flashes of the last few months of her life, these flashes are often of memories I wish I could forget. Anger sneaks up on me too, I am so angry that this happened to Lex and to my family, but, this anger is different, its tinged with helplessness and hopelessness. Guilt haunts me, yes I feel guilt, two different kinds of guilt. First, I still wonder if I missed something that could have saved her, I understand that this is unreasonable but I can't help how I feel and the responsibility of her life in my hands is overwhelming. The second kind of guilt addresses the life I continue to enjoy and all the people that I have befriended over the last 5 years all the things I have done, even my sweet dog Turtle none of which I would have if Lex had lived, which crushes me. I recently learned something, I learned to be gentle and kind with myself. All these feelings that live in my head weigh me down but those 2 simple words 'gentle and kind,' offer me relief and give me permission to feel how I feel to not pretend that I'm ok, they tell me to be gentle with myself to stop trying to reach for unreasonable standards of behaviour. I'm sad, I miss my daughter, and I always will I'm working on trying to live with this and it's a life long challenge, but I think that while the first step is to be gentle and kind with myself the second might be to forgive Lex for dying and to just love her for who she was.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I wasn't sure I could be happy on my daughter Danielle's wedding day. I thought I would have to compartmentalize my emotions as I always do. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the happiness and jubilation I felt were true. We all missed having Lex there, how she would have loved the planning, the primping, being Dani's 'maid of honour' and of course the partying. I thought that I would be overwhelmed, my emotions flip flopping, but instead I was able to enjoy Dani's wedding without the pull of sadness that often still takes my breath away. Rick and I are thrilled for Dani her new husband and our new son Dean, they are a wonderful couple. The wedding was beautiful full of warmth, a celebration of love. Dani looked gorgeous, she glowed and it was the first time in many years that we all felt truly happy. Alexis was heard in the song choices, she was with us under the chuppa, she was carried in the bouquet and she sat on top of the wedding cake. But it was Dani and Deans day and it was their joyful love for each other that created the mood and encouraged everyone to celebrate with them.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Alexis's 32nd Birthday

What is a birthday? It's the day you give birth to hope, love, joy, in the form of a little person who you created and excitedly introduce to the world. You spend hours trying to imagine who they will become. When Alexis was born we thought she was a superstar from the very beginning. She cried tears early, spoke early, was potty trained early. In school she did well and as she grew we became aware that she was socially smart garnering many loyal friends. As she got older it became apparent that she had a passion for travel and when it came time to discuss a career, anything that involved travel was her goal. Armed with a degree in HR she immediately sought work in the Travel Industry. One month after getting her job she discovered that she had relapsed. We will never know if she would have continued this path, if she would have stayed in Toronto or moved to work overseas. During her illness the dream changed to working in Israel, she loved it there. I was happy to know she was still making plans, trying to figure out what her next step would be, because that meant she felt hopeful that she would recover. I wish I knew how her story would unfold, but sadly I don't, she took all her dreams with her when she died. Today Lex would have been 32 years old, would she be married, working? have children? With Dani's upcoming marriage I wonder about her involvement, showers, stagette, maid of honour, speeches. She is not here to participate in any part of this wedding, there is a terrible void without her. Dani has grown into a beautiful adult, someone I enjoy talking to and spending time with, I am proud of my relationship with her and am happy and excited for her wedding. I know she misses Alexis, misses the 'what could have been' and the intimate sharing that occurs between sisters. Losing Alexis altered the fabric of my family forever, a deep wide gash that we are trying to patch, but will never fully repair. Our longing for her feels so much more poignant this year not only because of her birthday but because of her sister's approaching wedding where Lex's absence will be profoundly felt by all who knew her. So today while we should be celebrating the anniversary of our daughters birth we are instead remembering her with sweet sadness. I feel that the past, the present and the future are all colliding as I remember my beautiful Alexis, missing her today and everyday and moving forward without her.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Recently I went to a funeral.  The person who passed away was my age.  I knew her briefly and wanted to honour her memory by attending..  She died of Cancer.  She is survived by a loving husband 2 adult children, aging parents, sisters, nieces, nephews and friends.  She had a full and beautiful life, needless to say her family is devastated.  As I listened to the beautiful words her son spoke I felt  such sadness.  This young man will survive but, he will  be changed forever.  His is a loss  of innocence and the realization that to live is to be vulnerable and susceptible to tragedy.  Her sisters also spoke and through their tears and pain they were able to paint a picture  of a woman who was strong, proud and passionate, I feel their loss.  I understand their pain.  Nothing will ever be the same again.  Death is always sad no matter what the age or circumstances but to die in your prime after suffering from illness for years is cruel.   The one thing I know is we who are the survivors somehow go on,  we are helpless to the passage of time.  Suddenly 4 years have passed, you are 4 years older and you have moved on without them.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer in Alexis' name

 I wanted to share a special message we received.
I have always known that Lex was a person who welcomed everyone with warmth, grace and acceptance, she loved people and I greatly admired her ability to make everyone her friend.  Over the years many stories have surfaced that illustrate the warmth of her personality.  We recently received an email from Australia that demonstrates this beautifully 

‘Dear Debbie and Rick,

I’ve been meaning to write this for some time.  I was lucky enough to meet beautiful Alexis in France in 2008.  Alexis was the first person that I met on my first trip (an 8 month trip of Europe) She befriended me instantly and her warmness as a person and fellow traveller was immense.  Throughout all my travels, I have tried to match this warmness and I feel that this has helped develop me into the kind and loving person that I am today.  I am so impressed at your fundraising efforts and have donated to the good cause.  All the best for the 27th September and much love from Australia!’

 I am proud to know that Alexis is so lovingly remembered by people at home and abroad, that she was able to positively impact their lives is a wonderful legacy.  The desire to share  their stories of my daughter is heart-warming.  There is a lesson here,  how many of us can say that how we treat others has the ability to change their lives for the better.....Alexis can!

I am proud to tell you that over the last 5 years my family has personally raised more than $110.000 for Cancer research. When Alexis was diagnosed with ALL we joined the Leukemia fundraiser “Light the Night” where we walked with our friends and family,  Lex carrying a survivor balloon.   We only did this event once more after she had died because carrying the memorial balloon was too painful.  Alexis personally raised over $10.000 for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer and planned to walk with her friends but found out that her Leukemia had returned and was unable to participate, her sister Dani walked in her stead that year.  Subsequently for the past 3 years my husband Rick has participated in the Princess Margaret Hospital fundraising event “Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer.” ‘Team Lex’ has raised over $50.000 dollars for cancer research in 3 years.  This is the 4th year  that Rick and his ‘Team Lex’ team mates are participating in this event.  The team proudly wear hockey jerseys with the number 28 on the back a number significant to my family 28 means ‘Koach’ in Hebrew which translates to the word ‘Strength.’ 
This is your opportunity to change someone’s life for the better, by donating you will help find a cure to this terrible insidious disease that stole Alexis from us.
If you would like to support this extremely important and meaningful event you can donate to:
on or before: 
Wed Sept 24/14

Please help,
Thank you