Some Good News and Some Bad News

by Heather on November 28, 2011

So, last week I celebrated my 40th birthday.

I feel like now, at such a milestone, I need to make an apology to this blog. Oh I spent many days, many weeks, both privately and publicly cursing this blog for the pain it caused in my left shoulder. I was convinced that it was the months I spent on my couch, blogging, that left me with tight and extremely painful muscles, which wouldn’t relax, despite months of Physio, Massage, Chiro and Acupuncture Therapies.

Well, dear reader, it was not the blog, nor the posture, nor the couch. Turns out that the root of my pain was in fact a tumour that had infiltrated the tight space between my rib cage and shoulder blade. A very rare condition (which took 1.5 years to diagnosis), Fibromatosis is a non-malignant sarcoma which grows aggressively and is hard to resolve. The standard course of treatment, which I started at the end of the summer, is 2 years of Chemotherapy. That’s right… 2 years…. of Chemotherapy.

So, instead of sitting at my computer, faithfully blogging or even doing anything that can earn me some money, most Wednesday mornings you can find me at Mount Sinai with an IV plugged into my chest:

This is me. ON MY 40th BIRTHDAY!

There are many shitty things about this and one really big saving grace- though I am treated through the Oncology department, strictly speaking this is not Cancer in the most awful sense of the word- the tumour will not metastasize and spread to other parts of my body. And for that, I’m very, very thankful. But, the Chemo has left me exhausted and for a few days each week I feel pretty nauseous. My three kids have had to go back into daycare and except for my commitments at Sheridan, I’ve had to drastically cut down my work load.

That’s the bad news.

Enter dear friends from the photography community Kristin Sjaarda and Lisa Kannako who approached my husband about a month ago wanting to throw a party for me that might raise a bit of money to offset some of the financial repercussions of the disease, and the lengthy treatment. Soon PIKTO had jumped on board to cover printing costs for the photos that will be on auction and Westside generously offered to pay for the venue. Amazing designer and friend to photographers Katina Constantinou offered her services.

Needless to say, I am overwhelmed by the snowball of support that Kristin and Lisa’s original plan has inspired.

It’s all about the Good News attitude and over the last month, my spirits have been buoyed by the small committee that has formed to throw a fantastic HMAb event in Toronto at the beginning of February (February 5, 7pm, The Gladstone). Much like the last HMAb Live! Blog party, this one will feature inspiring talks from a few well-chosen shooters and some drinks. Plus there’ll be silent auction items and beautiful prints. I may be exhausted and a little limp but I will be there. Attending a party in one’s honour is a great motivator to get out of bed, no matter the nausea. Sadly though, you’ll be drinking vodka sodas on your own- no booze for me for the length of the treatment. (yet more bad news)

Stay tuned to this space for more info about the evening, plus interviews with some of the shooters who are donating prints. But keep in mind, there is limited capacity at the Gladstone and if you remember how packed my last party was, you’ll want to plan ahead- you can buy tickets through paypal on the sidebar to the right. (Or if you can’t attend, donations are humbly and happily accepted).

On behalf of my entire family, I will close with a heartfelt thanks. I have always felt your love and appreciation- I’ve kept every one of the emails you’ve sent that tells me how much you value the effort that’s gone into this blog- it truly makes the work worthwhile. And for that reason, I can’t fault the blog for my pain- it’s really brought me nothing but closer to all of you. I look forward to seeing you in February.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Boland November 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Sending you positive vibes Heather. : )

selina maitreya November 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm

What a wonderful community you have !
What a wonderful Heather we have!!!!
Sending healing energy to you dear Heather!

Steve Kean November 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Heather, it sounds as though your life has been far too eventful of late. However, I hope you have found a small measure of relief and peace of mind from finally determining the cause of your troubles.

I am thinking of you and if there is anything I can do to help, I’d love to hear from you. Do you need any more photographs for the silent auction? Aside from the food photography on my new commercial site, I have quite a collection of fine art personal work that I would be happy to contribute. Just tell me what, where, when and how if you need something.

Take care and Happy Holidays to you and your family from me and mine!

Steve

M David Leeds November 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Hello Heather,
Very sorry (and hopeful!) to read this post.

Is there a “theme” to the exhibit, and are images still being accepted?

I’d be honored to contribute a print for the auction.

Wishing you all the best,
M David Leeds

Cameron November 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Hi Heather -

I’ve been there. Lymphoma. Good thing this little intruder can not jump start into the rest of your system. Chemo wears you out. Protein helps as does some sort of exercise….anything..even walking.

Best of luck to you. Your blog has been a great asset to the art buying and photo community.

Erik Rotter November 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Very, sorry to hear about this hardship. Takes bravery to post and share this. Despite the difficulties I wish you strength and laughter.

Theresa Raffetto November 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Heather – your blog has been a great resource for me as well as for our members! Thank you for all you share with us and especially for sharing this story– your story!
Stay strong!

Best,
Theresa Raffetto
National President APA

Charles Trapp November 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Heather,
You inspire and touch so many in ways you will never know. Thank you for sharing your story. Your friends everywhere are here for you.

Warmest wishes and hopes for the best possible outcomes.

Charles

Ernie Mordak November 28, 2011 at 11:28 pm

My thoughts and prayers are with you Heather. You may not remember me, but I’ve known Scott for many years. My best wishes to you and to your family. Having personally experienced cancer myself, I know that a positive attitude, and my friends and family are paramount. All the best!

Katherine Hennessy November 29, 2011 at 12:53 am

For years, Heather – you have given so much to the Art/Photography community………truly, it’s time for some give back to you. Fight the fight, keep on going and gather support from as many as possible. Good thoughts, prayers and positive vibes coming your way!

~Katherine

Hasnain dattu November 29, 2011 at 1:44 am

I’m in for what ever you need. Our best wishes are with you. Need a babysitter, call us!

shana November 29, 2011 at 2:23 am

hi heather
i’m so sorry to learn of your health issue. as a fellow photographer & traveler down the path of illness i can assure you that well wishes, prayers, generous community benefits, etc. urged me on. so yes, may this wonderful event give you the strength to pull through & “get out of bed”.
i appreciate your blog very much.
healing & love to you…
warmly from shana

heather elder November 29, 2011 at 10:35 am

Heather, you have been an inspiration for me for quite sometime. Thank you so much for all of your honesty, courage and commitment. There are so many people that think about your daily and send good thoughts your way. Being surrounded by family and friendship is a powerful weapon for sure!

Koren Reyes November 29, 2011 at 10:46 am

Heather – what a challenging life event…wishing you well through the entire ordeal. I love your attitude. Hang in there and take good care of you.
Koren

Josée November 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Heather,

you are an inspiration, like always! Thank you for sharing and I send you, from Montreal, my positive energy!!! Take care and tell me if I can be helpful!!
Bonne Chance…

janet bailey November 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Heather, Thinking of you during this difficult time. Our thoughts and energy are with you! xo janet

Jamie Rosenthal November 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

We’ve create a Facebook event page for the fundraiser here: https://www.facebook.com/events/271162839596341/

Raina Kirn November 29, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Hi Heather,
I’m so sorry to hear about all you’ve been going through! Thank you for sharing- your strength and positive spirit are truly inspirational.
Sending you my thoughts and prayers.

Corwin Hiebert November 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Heather! Thanks for the update. I’m rootin’ for you big time!

I’ve decided to plan my next trip out to Toronto around your party so I’ll be there with bells on representing the West coast! I’ve got my tix already!

Blessings to you and all that Tumor-Ass-Kicking you’re doing!

Aaron McKenzie Fraser November 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Big hug from the East Coast.
Stay strong, you’ll beat this.

Take care,
aaron

Ron Pederson November 30, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Hi Heather I just read your story and I want to wish you all the very best in eliminating this beast from your body. I have met so many people with serious problems it makes mine feel minor.. j
But won’t go into that..
Ron

Stella Kramer November 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Heather, I can’t imagine how hard this is, but so many of us are keeping you in our thoughts. You’ve been doing great work and are such a valuable part of our photo community. If there is any way I can be of help please let me know.

Natasha Nicholson December 1, 2011 at 10:20 am

Heather
I am touched and astounded by your news. My condolences to you…Having seen you recently I wouldn’t have guessed that you were suffering quietly and with such dignity. I am also moved to hear that the community as a whole is rooting for your better health and giving back to you. I like to believe all the positive energy being sent your way has it’s benefits!
A hopeful and belated birthday wish.
Natasha

peter December 2, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Hi Heather,

My thoughts and prayers are with you…..

Richardson's in Ottawa December 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Heather,

Everyone in our house sends best wishes and we are thinking of you.

Ottawa – Richardson Gang

Natasha V. December 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Stay strong Heather!!! I am thinking of you, and if there is anything I can help with, I’m up for it. Big hugs, and see you in February!

Jooli December 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm

heather. may you become a clearer & stronger version of your self. may your dreams be a thousand times more enormous. may we all help to make that happen :) see you feb 5th. best to you and your family.

christine roberts December 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Oh my gosh…Heather I just read this…somehow I have been out of the loop. I am so sorry to hear the bad news. Sending you good thoughts, and hope to see you on the 5th of Feb.
xoxo Chris and Fred

Graham December 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Wishing strength to you Heather. Geography prevents me from attending the party but I will gladly contribute a donation.

Lisa Murphy December 23, 2011 at 11:18 am

Heather, I just read this today — sending you tons of love, faith, courage and strength to keep you going through the chemo. If you ever need someone to take care of the kids, drop ‘em off! So great to see what an amazing community of support you have. Have a restful and reenergizing holiday, Lis.xoxo

Cali York January 2, 2012 at 12:19 pm

We’ve never met and I came across this blog post searching for the job description of an art buyer… Thank you for sharing this information with us and Im sending more of that positivity your way!!
As you sit through your Wednesday morning chemo sessions (and every other morning) envision a clear body. Soon whatever shouldn’t be in your clear body, will go away. Be well! Enjoy life regardless of this. Smiling and laughing I hear are good tools for removing things like Fibromatosis I recommend a session of Bowfinger, Norbit and/or the Jerk once every two days :)

Brian Patterson January 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this with us Heather! My thoughts and prayers are with you on this journey of recovery. Please count me in for the Gladestone on February 5th. I am going to also repost this note to help the cause..buying my ticket now!!

Brian

Sofie January 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Hi Heather! Been thinking of you lots and sending you healing thoughts.
This too shall pass! xoxo

David Eichler January 4, 2012 at 3:49 am

Hi Heather,

I just discovered your website and have read through a few posts. Looks like you have a lot of excellent information and advice here, and you present it very well too.

Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Best,

David Eichler

phillip chn January 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm

heather

i am sending you happy thoughts from vancouver. i will be there for your fundraiser. wouldn’t miss it for the world. you can do 2 years of chemo on your head. it will go by quickly and you will be back better than ever. heather 2.0

see you soon

phil

Diane Eames January 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Heather, as a long time admirer of the work you have done on your blog and in the community, I send you wishes of good health in the new year. Best to you and your family, Diane.

Jocelyn January 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Hi Heather,

I’m in TO for a few months and came across your site. So sorry to hear about your illness but am sending the good vibes your way! Count me in for the fundraiser. Best, Jocelyn

Fiona Aboud February 2, 2012 at 12:16 pm

So sorry to hear about your situation! My prayers are with you and your family.
xoxo,
Fiona

Yvonne Duivenvoorden February 3, 2012 at 11:07 am

Heather:
I just learned of your ordeal today. You have been such a champion for our industry and I’m so pleased (though not surprised) to see everyone rallying for you. Enjoy the event on Monday and soak in the love! You deserve it.

Harry Nowell February 3, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Wishing you a fast recovery!

Daniela Majic February 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Heather,

I just wanted to say that someone very close to me has been undergoing treatment for a tumour for over the last year, seeing her strength through this ordeal is amazing. Stay strong and surround yourself with positively and those that support you. Family and loved ones can help through anything. Sending you lots of positivity and wishes of good health in the near future.

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