The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!
Today, someone I follow on Twitter posted something that brought back a flood of memories but one in particular.
I am a hockey fan and have been since I can remember. Saturday nights in the winter were one of the only nights that, as a kid, both my brothers and I were allowed to stay up late watching Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) with my dad. We were all Toronto Maple Leaf fans, having been born and raised in Toronto. Those nights were awesome. The ritual began first thing in the morning when we would all head out to the St. Lawrence Market where dad would buy 2 – 3 pounds of raw shrimp. We would take them home and mom would cook them and peel them and put them in the fridge to get cold.
During the game itself we would snack on popcorn (made the old fashioned way, on the stove) smothered with real butter and loaded with salt. We would wash it down with either Pepsi or Vernors. When the game was over we would all sit at the dining room table eating our shrimp and discussing the game we had all just seen. I loved those days – all of us together laughing and arguing about the game.
As we grew up, Saturday nights together were few and far between. Each one of us had “better” things to do, as do most teenagers. LOL.
Anyhow, today my friend Rocco, who is a total hockey fanatic – in a good way – posted that his 7 year old son asked him “Did a famous buffalo hockey player die in car crash.”?
I will never forget the night that Tim Horton died. Hearing it on the news I knew exactly the spot where he died on the way to Niagara Falls. The bridge is quite short as far as bridges go however the bridge is built to look like a ship. Both ends of the bridge have a bow/stern on them. That too has been there for as long as I can remember.
But the one memory in particular that I have of Tim Horton, occurred many, many years after he had died in a single car smash up in 1974. I was 14 years old at the time.
(For any of you who don’t know who Tim Horton is – he was an NHL player whose career spanned 25 years, 20 of which he wore a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. Additionally he was the original co-owner of Tim Horton’s donut/coffee shops that now mark the Canadian and to a lesser extent, the American landscape.)
While I worked in the stock brokerage business the firm I worked for would rent the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto every Christmas season and have a family/client skate. We would invite our clients and their families and also our own families were invited to skate and partake of the “party” later in the Hot Stove Lounge, which for the most part was a “Members Only” facility located in the arena.
If you have ever been to Maple Leaf Gardens you know that all the corridors are lined with pictures of Maple Leaf players past and present (well present at the time). The corridor that is closest to the Hot Stove Lounge was one of the corridors that were lined with past players. On a wall there hung a huge picture of Tim Horton. It was also the corridor which had seats lined up to lace up your skates, take a walk down the hallway past the dressing room and onto the ice.
The last family/client skate that occurred at the Gardens before they closed the doors I was one of the people who directed those who were skating to the ice and then directed them to the Hot Stove Lounge after their skate. As I stood there that night I watched a man and woman and their two children looking at all the old pictures on the wall. Dad pointed at the picture of Tim Horton and as he did his son, who was probably 7 or 8 years old. Looks up at the picture and says in a fairly loud voice “What’s he doing here, doesn’t he own a donut shop?” At that point in time dad, mom and everyone else within earshot started laughing. The poor little guy didn’t know what was so funny but everyone else over the age of 25 knew. It became the one story that everyone knew about that night the next day in the office and before the day was over all of Bay Street knew about a little boy at the Gardens the night before who only knew Tim Horton as a donut maven and not an ex-Leaf.
As I get older I kind of like when things jog my memory and start me thinking about things that happened in my previous life. I no longer work on Bay Street, Maple Leaf Gardens is no longer the home of The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tim Horton’s Donut chain is now owned by the same US conglomerate that owns Wendy’s and a couple of other fast food places.
And I am getting older, day by day, just like everyone else; it’s not such a bad thing after all. Thanks Max for making me think about something I had almost forgotten about until you asked the question.
Not all cancer centres in Ontario have radiation capabilities. I was accepted as a patient at the Kinston Regional Cancer Centre in Kingston, Ontario. Although I could have my last two rounds of chemo closer to home, Kingston was as close as I could get for my radiation. So, how close is close? A drive to Kingston from where I live is approximately 80 miles or about 130 kms. Because it is over 40 kms I was eligible to stay at the Quinte 1000 Islands Cancer Lodge in Kingston as I would have at least one radiation treatment a day.
If you have ever donated to the Canadian Cancer Society, by any means, I can tell you where some of the money goes. A lot of people think that the donations are used for Cancer Research only, but they aren’t. Each city with a Cancer Centre has a lodge. It’s kinda like Ronald McDonald House in that patients who are far from home can stay, at no charge (for the most part) for the duration of their treatment. Additionally, if there is no room available at the lodge, patients are housed at local hotels – all on the Cancer Society’s dime. Staying at the lodge does have its drawbacks – but at the end of the day, as a patient, the only other place that would have been better for me was home. The great thing about the lodge is that everyone there is in the same boat – we all had cancer and we were all undergoing treatment in one form or another. Not everyone was having chemotherapy and concurrent radiation. Some were either/or. But it didn’t matter. A group of people with similar circumstances were brought together under the same roof. We laughed together, we often cried together but the operative word here is together. No longer alone, I made some friends that to this day remain such.
I began my chemo/rad protocol on a Monday morning. Rule one of Cancer treatment is be prepared to sit around and wait. I get really angry at those who complain about this – get over yourself – look around. There are probably people in this room with you who will not see next month let alone next year. My first week was chemo and rad. I had done my research, talked to all my doctors and knew what to expect, at least I thought I did. I was wrong. Somewhere in all of the reading, listening and learning I missed the part that said chemo could have an effect on my emotional well-being as well as my physical. This became painfully evident the first week. My fanny pac of 5FU began acting up on the first day, the alarm going off kept me awake all night. The next day when I went to the clinic for day 2 I begged them to stop the 5FU fanny pac. However the nurses, pros that they were figured out the problem and the fanny pac stayed. Score 1 for the nurses. My rad techs, Wendy and Sonja were awesome. It took 15 minutes to set me up for 30 seconds of beam. Once done the day was mine.
On Thursday of that first week, I was ready to go home. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep and although the 5FU was in a bag and being pumped into my arm I could smell it which made me nauseous all the time. I went to my morning rad appointment. Ever so cheerful Wendy called my name and when I met up with her she asked me what was wrong. “Nothing”. “Come on kid, what’s wrong?” at which I totally lost it and told her I was done, not coming back, let the chips fall where they may, blah, blah, blah. Wendy took me into the rad room and set me up. When we were done she took me by that arm and down the hall to yet another room in the clinic. We were met by my Rad Onc’s primary nurse Sylvie. It took over an hour, but in that time the three of us laughed, cried and came to an understanding. The chemo was the culprit – and was not only attacking my physical body but also my psychological one. Ahh, so that was it!!!! Without that talk I would not have continued my chemo/rad. I would have left Kingston the next day and never went back. I returned on Monday for week 2. The following 3 weeks were rad weeks only and in week 5 I was again hooked up for chemo. It took over an hour to find a vein and even then it was a chore. I stood with my arms in water and when not in the warm water I was wrapped in hot towels, trying to coax a vein out that could be plundered.
Finally hooked up, the poisonous drip began again. On Wednesday while the cisplatin was dripping my arm started swelling – kind of like the Elephant Man. The vein was blown! I was rushed to the ER, where I had a PICC line inserted and then back to the clinic to continue. Why they didn’t insert a PICC line in week 1 is beyond me! It was so much easier for all injectables with the PICC line. I firmly believe that PICC’s and Ports should be standard for any chemo that requires a vein.
The remaining rad treatments and chemo rounds produced the “usual” side effects. After 5 ½ weeks of radiation and 2 rounds of chemo I was able to return home and complete the last 2 rounds of chemo at a clinic closer to home. 5 ½ weeks had taken its toll and that weekend I was so sick I really think I wanted to die. Thank god for home care nurses. I had been sent home with anti-nausea drugs, all types – and each time a nurse came, I got a shot and when a nurse wasn’t due dad would bundle me up and take me to the ER and they would shoot me up, check my hydration levels and feed me popsicles.
I was taking a beating with round 2 – days were spent on the couch or in the bathroom. It would take me much too much time to get the energy to get to the bathroom and then more time to garner the energy to get back to the couch. It was not a happy time in my life.
I met with a new Oncologist at the Belleville General Hospital who would administer rounds 3 and 4. I told him that I had been so sick that if he couldn’t guarantee that the next two rounds were going to make a difference and endure that I would never get cancer again, I wasn’t going to submit. Now, I knew he couldn’t guarantee that – he knew he couldn’t but in my chemo induced ridiculousness it was a way of saying I was done, game over. He asked me to please try it one more time, his way, which was much different than it had been in Kingston. In addition to the obvious he was also really big on hydration. It would mean longer hours in the chemo clinic and a couple of extra days with the 5FU fanny pac after each round, but he was as sure as he could be that the last two rounds would be easier than the first 2. For whatever reason, I agreed to try it!
And he was right. The additional hydration made a world of difference. Instead of 50mls of saline with the cisplatin drip I received 50mls before, 50 mls with and then 50mls after the drip. At the end of the week, I was sent home with a fanny pac still in place but instead of the dreaded 5FU it was loaded with 1000 mls of saline. When that bag was gone, my home nurse hooked me up to another 1000 mls, and then another. When that was gone, the fanny pac was removed. If you have ever undergone any type of chemo, you know that the faster the stuff is flushed out of your body, the faster the side effects are lessened. Additionally, for someone who’s ability to eat and keep down any food, hydration is a major concern. Once your body is dehydrated it starts to slow down and all organs can be affected to the point of shutting down. It is so important to ensure that ones kidneys are working and dehydration can lead to kidney failure in a very short period of time. And that is never a good thing!
Round 3 of chemo was very uneventful and the side effects I had suffered with the first 2 rounds were still there, but not nearly as bad. In fact, round 3 was so easy I announced to my Onc that I was ready to get round 4 done, in the can and be done with it all. Chemo does some nasty things to a body so I had to wait the 3 weeks till I could undergo the final round.
Round 4 came and the week went by fairly uneventful. When I was leaving the clinic on the Friday afternoon I told the nurses that I was glad that I would not have to see them everyday but not to take it personally. I would still see them weekly for a while but not daily while they were dripping that stuff into my body. We all laughed and after the hugs were over – I went home.
I WAS DONE. 28 radiation treatments, 4 rounds of chemo. It was over! The drive home was bittersweet; I had spent the past 4 months in the company of doctors and nurses daily. They had become a major part of my life. I would miss that, but at the same time, it was time to move on and heal once and for all.
Well as luck would have it, that wasn’t to be in the cards. Upon walking into the house I spied the light on the phone flashing…
It was one of the nurses at the clinic. I was to sit down and try not to move much – there was a home care nurse on her way over. She would explain further when she got there but until she did, sit down and relax. Ok I could sit down – but relax – ya sure – what the hell was wrong now?
My nurse showed up within minutes of me getting the message armed with a bottle of something and a needle. Apparently my magnesium level was dangerously (read possibly fatally) low and I could have had a heart attack at any moment. Good thing they didn’t tell me that on the phone or I probably would have. Additionally my potassium level was very low. The drip she started that day would be the start of 18 weeks of hell…
During the following 18 weeks I had a magnesium drip once a week. Usually on a Tuesday, then on Thursday a nurse would return and draw blood to check and see how I was responding treatment.
Chemo is a good news/bad news thing. It helps to eradicate any rogue cancer cells from your body but at the same time it destroys the stuff you need to survive. I was physically sick from the chemo and it was depleting my body of the minerals it needed to survive, I just didn’t know it at the time. My eating was sporadic at best and although I knew I had to eat to live, it was a major feat just to get anything down and keep it down. Popsicles were my new found best friend – they kept me hydrated.
During this time I also had to have a CAT scan. Try drinking 32 ounces of contrast when you can barely get down a Popsicle.
Finally in December 2005 my PICC line was removed. I was done!!! It had been over a year since I was diagnosed. Just under a year since my surgery and subsequent radiation and chemo treatments. I had battled the beast and won!!!
I had CT scans every 3 months the first year, then down to every 6 months and finally in Year 5 I had an annual CT scan. That was over a year ago. All my Oncologists agreed that CT scans were no longer needed. (They can cause cancer dontcha know?) I do however have an annual scope. Also in Year 5 I was given the option of not having anymore however, I still do. An ounce of prevention…
The only Oncologist I see now is my Rad Onc. When I saw him in Year 5, I asked if that was it for him too. He said no, he would keep an eye on me for another 5 years. I like that – when I was released by most of my Doctor’s I felt an odd sense of abandonment, one I still have from time to time, but I know that they are never more than a phone call away. I keep in touch with them, more just to say hi but also to keep the lines of communication open should I ever need them again.
Writing this has been kind of cathartic for me. I have never really sat done and spelled a lot of this out. I have a journal from day 1 but have never put it all together. There never seemed to be a need for it. I lived it – I beat it. There were days that I wanted to give up and apparently there were days when I was so close to dying that it’s probably a good thing I didn’t know it at the time. But, dying was never an option for me. I was too young to die and there are too many things left in this world that I want to do.
I still suffer from side effects from surgery and radiation more so than from chemo even though it was the chemo that almost killed me. I have a mouth full of rotting teeth thanks to the chemo and sometimes my thoughts get a little confused, which can also be attributed to the damn chemicals but other than some minor inconveniences I consider myself to be so very very lucky to still be alive.
I am unable to work full time, my body cannot take it. I need a nap for the most part. I have spinal stenosis: I have a cyst on my left kidney stem both possibly from radiation. I have a radiation scar on my right lung which sometimes makes breathing difficult. I have eating issues – what I can eat today does not mean I can eat it tomorrow. Dumping was not an issue until almost 3 years after the fact. My right side is still painful and requires pain medication. However, these are small things in the grand scheme of things. Some of the left over side effects did not appear until well after all the treatments had been completed and there has been some question as to whether they are indeed a result of the treatments or a result of that other malady I suffer – getting older.
I can live with side effects and I am doing my best to do just that!
Thanks for sticking by me – it is always a comfort to know that no matter how alone I feel, I am never truly alone.
Oct 31, 2010.
I am getting increasingly sickened by what my Government is doing to our Soldiers and our Veterans. As Canadians we should all be sickened, as humans we should be appalled. Below is a guest post from Miachel Blais CD. He has asked that this be passed around as many times as possible. The rest is up to you Canada! – Nancy
Trust violated, where do veterans turn?
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity on the veterans’ front. Nationally, veterans continue to rally in defense of Colonel Pat Stogran, Veterans Ombudsman and the serious concerns he has idenfied. Revelations pertaining to repeated VAC violations of retired Captain Sean Bruyea’s privacy rights might be a good indication that veterans concerns are well justified. Minister of Defense MacKay and Minister for Veterans Affairs Blackburn teamed up for announcements on financial increases and long overdue care improvements. A baseline income for Canadians Forces members who’s disability awards are based on lower pay grades and a catastrophic injury award of 1000 dollars a month for life was proposed. At this point of time, however, no clarification as to the whether the award is taxed or whether the increase will be deducted from the wounded veteran’s Manulife SISIP LTD payment. Nor do we know just who will qualify for this catastrophic award or what qualification requisites are. As such, one can only wonder where and if there is any substance to these announcements.
Prime Minister Harper also entered the fray and proclaimed that veterans suffering from ALS, some who launched legal action against the Canadian government for treatment support when VAC denied their claims would now be considered for VAC benefits. It is frustrating to note however that there seems to be no real plan or date for support implementation for those suffering from ALS. This disease waits for no man, not even the prime minister of Canada. To offer hope to those afflicted and their families yet have no plan or method of implementation logically raises questions about the true motives behind making promises at this time. Again, where is the substance?
News then broke of systematic charter violations reference retired intelligence officer Captain Sean Bruyea’s Veterans Affair Canada files. Sean is a staunch advocate for veterans’ issues and long-standing critic of the New Veterans Charter. For good reason! The sanctity of his medical and financial files was repeatedly violated at the high levels of government and VAC bureaucracy with the intent, allegedly, to use this information to impugn his credibility prior to the NVC enactment. To compound the issue, Colonel Stogran admitted that the security surrounding his personal medical files had also been compromised and that he also had grave concerns that his confidential information would be used against him. In addition to and because of the investigation into the hundreds of violations initially reported by Sean Bruyea, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart launched the first ever department-wide investigation into Veterans Affairs Canada activities weeks before Minister Blackburn claimed responsibility for the same systemic investigation of his department.
These issues have tested, perhaps broken the bond of trust between our troops / veterans and the bureaucracy and ministerial officials at Veterans Affairs Canada. Let us not forget, this nation is at war. Canada’s sons and daughters are being repatriated with terrible injuries and under such extraordinary circumstances one might realistically claim that it is Prime Minister Harper’s responsibility to implement measures to restore a state of integrity to Veterans Affairs Canada.
The question is, just how can the bond of trust between our troops, veterans and VAC be restored?
First, Prime Minister Harper must call for a full public inquiry into Veterans Affairs Canada’s activities. The breach of privacy violations against Captain Bruyea and Colonel Stogran are not internal VAC issues, they are a breach of federal privacy laws, the specter of wide spread abuse corrupts the very level of trust veterans are entitled. How can a government address the serious problems at VAC and improve our veterans’ quality of life if the government does not take comprehensive measures to study, evaluate and propose changes to a variety of NVC inadequacies? There must be a forum guarantying veterans a state of meaningful dialogue, the prospect of change, a mandate to recommend and implement measures of improvement.
Second. The prime ministerial appointment of the Veterans Ombudsman, while an admirable act, cannot be effective should the prime minister and his government simply decide to ignore/dismiss the recommendations. To be effective, the Veterans Ombudsman must be a legislated position responsible to parliament, not the government of the day. When necessary, the Veterans Ombudsman must have the legal mandate to intervene, investigate and implement corrective measures on behalf of the veteran. Furthermore, the ombudsman must have a staunch military background, strong credentials, an abundance of integrity and an ability to relate to the veterans he/she has sworn to assist.
Someone perhaps… like Colonel Pat Stogran?
Our troops and veterans deserve nothing less.
Michael L Blais CD
Niagara Falls, Ontario
On August 28, 2004 I had my very first scope. After a couple of months of not being able to swallow my food and an unrelated (or was it?) trip to the ER I was referred to Dr. Sean McIlreath, a specialist in Endoscopies. He became the first in a long line of Doctors who would be instrumental in saving my life!
In a nutshell, I was diagnosed on October 28, 2004 with Adenocarcinoma of the Esophagus – in layman’s term, Esophageal Cancer. At what felt like a snail’s pace back then I had a CAT scan, saw yet another surgeon, Dr. Ted Young at St, Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton and was scheduled for surgery in November. On December 30, 2004 I had life saving and altering surgery. The surgery, which was supposed to last about 8 hours, didn’t and when I hit the recovery room I was a little smart assy with Dr. Young so he sent me straight to step down instead of ICU – he told his nurse that I didn’t need ICU and did so laughing, a rarity for Dr. Young I’m sure. Into a regular room in 2 days and out of the hospital in 7 days (It would have been six but there was an ice storm and it was easier for me to stay than to get home). I had been told that I would probably be in the hospital for 12 – 15 days. I was Dr. Young’s poster girl for EC back then Each time he came to see me in the hospital (at least twice a day) he would ask me “How’s the pain?” and each time I would answer “What pain?” He would smile and say “That’s my girl”. It’s probably wrong on so many levels but I do truly miss Dr. Young!!!!
Although he left a roadmap of scars on the outside of my body, reduced the number of organs on the inside and left a flotilla of shiny clips as a beacon to the treatment to come, his most important legacy (aside from saving my life of course) was the imprint he left on my heart. If not for the amazing surgical skills of this man and his awesome team I would not be here today!
I spent the next 6 weeks at my Aunt’s home in Burlington. A home filled with love and compassion and a short distance from Dr. Young and St. Joe’s Hospital in Hamilton if the need arose. Thankfully it didn’t, my only return visit was a week after surgery to get the results from the pathology tests of my removed innards during surgery and to plan the rest of my recovery. I thought I was scared before the surgery – it was nothing. I slept through that and then spent the next week so stoned that I barely remember much of it. My trip to see Dr. Young a week after the surgery was the scariest ride I had ever been on. Until he saw the pathology report he couldn’t tell me how advanced my cancer was, nor could he tell me what I had to look forward too.
Well, as luck (?) would have, all of the 50+ lymph nodes he removed were clean – my cancer was contained in the orange sized tumour he removed from the base of my esophagus. Along with the tumour he removed my entire esophagus, approximately 12 inches leaving a 2 inch stub at the back of my throat in which he pulled up the remaining 1/3 of my stomach (he removed 2/3 of my stomach for good measure) and attached it to the stub. Dr. Young recommended that I undergo radiation and chemotherapy as “insurance”, in case any pesky little cancer cells got away or were hiding just waiting for an opportunity to strike back. I readily agreed. I could go home (to Brighton) and have my chemo and radiation in Kingston which was closer to home than staying in Burlington.
Now, let’s be real here – I loved staying in Burlington. I was pampered, taken care of, had every need and want catered to by my Aunt Joy, a woman who words cannot even begin to describe…If I could ever nominate anyone for sainthood – it would be her! But I digress (yet once again). I chose Kingston. As much as being taken care of was awesome, I needed to go home.
The first oncologist I saw in Kingston would be the doctor who administered my chemo drugs. I would be given a cocktail of Cisplatin and 5FU (a drug so aptly named it is not even funny). It would be a 4 round protocol. One week on (with concurrent radiation – the radiation helped activate the drugs) 3 weeks off the chemo but continuing the radiation, one week on during the last week of radiation. The last 2 rounds of chemo would be administered even closer to home in Belleville. The second oncologist was Dr. Falkson, my radiation onc. He went through the radiation process with me and then told me that I should go home and think about it…HUH???? What was there to think about? I was 44 years old, in good health except of course for the cancer. I had nothing to lose, everything to gain. Now, I guess this is where I should add that the stats on Esophageal Cancer are not good, at best. Back then, the average mean time of survival was 27 months after diagnosis. 27 MONTHS!!!!!! However, mine had been caught in early stages so I had a “better” chance of survival past the 27 months. So I asked him point blank – If I walk out that door now and never come back what are the odds. He replied about 15%. So, I ask, what if I stay. His reply about 45%. So I say – Let’s do it!!!!
And so it began…
(If you have read this far, I thank you. I didn’t realize when I started to type how long a story this condensation of the story really was. I suppose I am giving away all the good stuff so you won’t have to buy the book, should it ever come out! You can thank me later.)
When I first heard aabout Pat’s contract not being renewed I was angry, very very angry. So much so that I started a letter to Prime Minister Harper which would have appeared here at serendopeity as “An Open Letter to…”
The letter has not been posted because I had to calm down and think rationally and logically instead of emotionally as I was thinking. For those of you who know me, you know that when I get passionate about something I really do get upset and tend to say things that are more of a “personal” attack than what it really should be. For example, my letter to Harper began…
“Dear Mr. Harper;
I know protocol would dictate that I address a letter to you as “The Rt. Honourable, Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, however I find nothing honourable about you or your recent actions…”
So, you can see why I had to slow down on the letter – additionally I was “warned” that perhaps I shouldn’t make it an open letter but rather send it along to Ottawa – sorry, again if you know me at all, you know that is not my style.
When the article below appeared on Facebook, with Mike’s request that it be passed along to media outlets by the members of the Facebook page, I decided to post it here as a guest post.
Please read the post and remember that our veterans are not only from WW1, WW2 and the Korean War. Insomuch as we have not, as a country, declared war on any other country since WW1, we are at war in Afghanistan, with veterans returning home constantly, facing the same issues that our older veterans face.
Guest Post by Mike Blais Rcr Cfds via Facebook.
You can join the Facebook Group at Stand UP for Colonel Pat Stogran and for ALL CANADIAN veterans
Veterans standing up for Colonel Stogran as he has stood up for us.
Last week, retired Colonel Pat Stogran, CO of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry battalion that led Canada’s deployment to Afghanistan, was informed by the Canadian government that his services as the Veterans Affairs Canada ombudsman would be no longer required. Veterans across the nation were appalled, fearing the important issues championed so vigilantly by Colonel Stogran would be ignored or delayed beneath the guise of Minister Blackburn’s claim of need for a new vision. I can assure all Canadians, there is nothing wrong with Colonel Stogran’s vision; the issues he has identified and condemned during his tenure are very, very real. Furthermore, during the past three years he has truly earned the trust of our veterans through action and word, a refreshing source of support for many who are living with the debilitating consequences of war and peace.
Many Canadians are unfamiliar with the hardships young and old veterans are confronting. I would like to clarify this situation with the sincere hope that once you understand how veterans are being mistreated, you might be inclined to support them at 1100 hours, November 6th, 2010 when we assemble in front of our MP’s offices to respectfully ask for support redressing five principle areas of concern.
The widow’s aka death benefit tax. Sadly, the families of the fallen, already deeply grieving the loss of loved ones are subject to a great deal of financial hardship through this unjust taxation policy. Veterans Affair Canada is not an insurance company and the pension/awards they provide are specifically for pain and suffering, not income replacement. We believe that the families of the fallen deserve the same standard and should be provided a tax exception on all VAC death benefits.
Lump Sum Award. Sadly, hundreds of Canada’s sons and daughters have sustained grievous wounds in action and/or suffer from a variety of service related physical and physiological issues. We have borne witness to the struggle of the armless, the legless, blind, deaf… hundreds of veterans are returning to Canada from Afghanistan with serious health problems. Financially, the New Veterans Charter is particularly deficient. I will demonstrate by comparing the two systems. Hypothetically, two veterans are severely wounded, age twenty-five, wife, child. One receives a lump sum payment of 276000 dollars. The other receives the standard before the New Veterans Charter implementation, roughly 3000 dollars a month. Both live to the age of 85. The new veteran receives 276000 dollars during this period, about 380 dollars a month. His colleague, on the pre New Veterans Charter, receives over TWO MILLION dollars and includes an additional supplement for his wife and each child till they reach the age of 18. This vast disparity, particularly when one considers the consequences of modern combat, is obscene.
Clawback of Veterans Affairs pension/Maritime Life SISIP program. Canadians might well imagine how difficult, if not impossible, it is for a soldier to find life insurance! We participate through a government-approved program administered by Maritime Life called the SISIP program. This is a standard LTD insurance policy that, if necessary, subsidizes soldiers other pensions to a percentage based on severity of injury. Prior to the New Veterans Charter, Maritime Life deducted the veterans VAC award from this payment even though it quite clearly states that the Veterans Affairs Canada pension is for pain and suffering and not to be considered income replacement. The New Veterans Charter rectified this injustice through legislation but inexplicably, not for all veterans. Today, 6500 airmen, sailors and soldiers continue to be adversely affected, a fact that is prejudicial and grotesquely unfair. We have all served this nation, there should be only one standard, inclusive of the financial considerations promised when we have Tread in Harms way on Canada’s behalf.
Reduction of service pension at age 65. Imagine, you served you entire career, dutifully paying into your pension fund only to discover that the government is arbitrarily going to reduce your service pension the moment you hit 65. This is fundamentally unfair, particularly in the sense that all governmental offices, only the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces are adversely affected by this financial hardship. We believe that this is a burden for veterans and Mounties; this discriminating policy must be repealed.
Agent Orange/PTSD. We respectfully request that a comprehensive program be implemented to assist those who were affected by Agent Orange chemicals at CFB Gagetown for many years. The current settlement covers only those affected over the course of one, even though it has been proven that hundreds, if not thousands of veterans through time may have been exposed. The consequences are fatal, cancers inherent with great discomfort and pain. Many veterans have already died. To deny responsibility and care for those suffering a terminal disease yet provide for others similarly affected, but only during the one-year period, is morally wrong. Post traumatic stress issues have also become an urgent issue as more and more of our veterans find it difficult coping with their wartime experiences after repatriation.
These are the facts and with these facts in mind, I would invite all Canadians to join veterans throughout Canada on the 6th of November 2010, at 1100 hours in front of your local MP’s office. We shall unite as brothers and sisters, sing O Canada, respectfully present our petition to our local parliamentarians and provide him/her an opportunity to address these issues in a public forum. Conservative, Liberal or NDP, it matters not, our veterans need the support of all parliamentarians if we are to change the Veterans Charter through legislation. Just as we, the veterans of Canada, need the support of all Canadians.
Stand up for veterans! Stand up for veterans as we have stood up for you.
Michael L Blais CD,
Niagara Falls Ontario
other media articles about this issue:
http://bit.ly/c3Q4qE Disabled soldiers angry over lump-sum payments (via Toronto Star)
http://bit.ly/bScUR7 It’s time to stand up for them (via Ottawa Citizen)
Today’s post is from www.ThankASoldier.net
Please visit www.ThankASoldier.net I think you will enjoy it. Dave had put a lot of heart, soul and energy into his blog.
Turning Facebook & Twitter Red On Fridays
On Friday August 28th and every Friday thereafter we will be turning Facebook & Twitter Red in support of all troops & their families, from all countries that are a part of the UN Coalition. This is not about getting on the Twitter trending topics list, selling shirts or getting donations for other charities. It is about our service men and women and their families and helping to spread the word about Red Friday.
How you can help spread the word:
Put something like this in your facebook status :
It`s Red Friday, Wear RED to show support to our troops at home & their families #RedFriday
This is not a contest as to who can do the most #Redfriday tweets you simply post it at least once every Friday to encourage people to wear Red on Fridays, its’ as simple as that.
The Red Friday Video:
I recently had my twitter followers and group members send in “Thank You” videos and it went very well so we could possibly being doing a “Red Friday” video that is simular that just shows regular people from all over the world with photos of themselves wearing RED to support our troops. So We’ll see how this goes and stay tuned for information about that.
What is Red Friday?
Snopes.com has it linked as “Collected on the internet in 2005″ they also report that in the spring of 2006 Red Fridays in Canada was started by two wives of Canadian forces Lisa Miller and Karen Boire. You can check out “The Red Friday Ladies” page on Facebook.
I wanted to post the above information as when I post this and attempt to do what this blog is for I don’t want anyone to think i’m trying to claim starting this idea or anything like that. It’s simply an idea to Facebook & Twitter RED on Fridays.
Wikipedia : Red Friday in Canada : People in Canada have worn red on Fridays to show support for troops serving in the Canadian Forces. Red is chosen because it is an official Canadian colour, and historically is a colour of remembrance because it symbolizes the red poppies in Flanders Fields and the loss of life that the country has endured.
SHARING THIS POST:
If you would like to share this on facebook copy and paste this in to your facebook status:
It will not set your status but put a link to this posting on your wall.
If you would like to share this on twitter simply put this in your Twitter Status:
Turning Facebook & Twitter Red on Fridays http://bit.ly/xJISt #RedFriday
I have joined the world of Twitter. Since I live in Canada and cell phone plans are outrageous I haven’t used my phone to “Tweet” but I spend alot of time at www.twitter.com. I have “met” some really great people and would like to think, forged some friendships. Like any other internet venture it is sometimes hard to tell. I know myself, and in doing so, I know that I can sometimes be a little more sarcastic that I normally would be, but that is half the fun. I can also flirt shamelessly, and again, knowing myself, I know the flirting is harmless but oh so much fun.
In addition to the friends I have made, I have also been able to garner some names for the Something From Home project. Thanks to twitter I have more names and have been sending packages to the Troops in Afghanistan on a constant basis. I am really grateful to all of those who have forwarded names to me – it makes my project feel all that more worthwhile. It is also a nice feeling to get a note from someone who has received a package. I sometimes wish I could send more in the boxes but I try to pack in as much as possible.
What I didn’t know was, the first round of packages that went over, went to Camp Mirage. Mirage is a Canadian outpost away from Kandahar Airfield. Dopey me didn’t catch on right away to the address so here I was sending Tim Horton’s cards away from the base where the Tim’s is located – ok so a blonde moment – what can I say. Hopefully anyone at Mirage had to return to KAF on their way home and were able to use their cards then. Their rotation is over and hopefully all are safe and sound back home and getting on with being back with family and friends. I still cannot imagine being that far away in that kind of situation without the people I love the most around me.
The project has grown – originally I sent packages to individuals and there are still some individual soldiers on the list. However, I also send “group packages”. The packages (usually 8 – 10 at a time) go to a soldier who in turn distributes to many others. I really like this concept and am in awe of how they all “share and share alike”. I suppose I shouldn’t be, the situation would dictate that kind of camaraderie and it actually makes my heart happy to see it. As of this weekend there are new names – even American troops via the Canadian troops.
If you have ever wondered what life in Afghanistan as a deployed soldier is, wonder no more. With his gracious permission, I am adding a link to a blog that is written by a deployed American soldier. Known as “Afghantim”, Tim blogs about daily life and happenings where he is. I really hope you will take a little time and check out his blog. It certainly opened my eyes and I really believe that anyone and everyone should see what it is that all troops are enduring on a daily basis. Tim has posted many many pictures given a visual to what he writes. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, I think it is not to be missed. You can access his blog here and it will be added to my blogroll in the new Something fromhome section on the home page of Serendopeity. Thank you Tim, for allowing me to add you to my blog. It is my hope that you will get some more readers and in doing so more people will understand more fully what it is that the soldiers from around the globe are trying to accomplish.
I don’t ask for donations. I have some friends here who have generously donated items and their time and I truly appreciate it. Lifting the boxes can sometimes be painful for me and if not for the help I am not sure what I would do.
Canadian troops along with ALL their allies need our help. If you would like to help please contact me and I will let you know what you can do. It really is simple, takes little time and would make some awesome dedicated people smile, if only for a minute. I am committed to Something From Home. As most of you know I consider myself to be very, very lucky and have been given a second chance at life. Anything I can do for someone else is not only a pleasure it is also a privilege that I have been afforded.
If you are deployed and reading this, please know that you have many many people at home not only applauding what you do, but supporting your efforts and praying for your safe return.
Thanks for reading and check out Tim’s blog.
Happy Fourth of July to all my American family, friends, readers and yes, even foes.
To Be 6 AGain…
A man was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching his wife, who was looking at herself in the mirror. Since her birthday was not far off he asked what she’d like to have for her birthday.
‘I’d like to be six again’, she replied, still looking in the mirror .
On the morning of her Birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Lucky Charms, and then took her to Six Flags theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Roller Coaster, everything there was.
Five hours later they staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. He then took her to a McDonald’s where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake.
Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M’s. What a fabulous adventure!
He leaned over his wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, ‘Well Dear, what was it like being six again?’
Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed. Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted.
‘I meant my dress size, you jerk!!!!’
The moral of the story: Even when a man is listening, he is gonna get it wrong.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend to all my US friends (and enemies). Please take a minute to remember what this weekend is for and say Thank You to anyone you meet who served or is serving your country!Nancy
A missing box of donuts.
Farley, the Bernese Mountain Dog; Bosco, the Chocolate Lab and Maggie, the – well we are not real sure of her parentage, but she is cute.
Farley belongs to a friend and we were “dog sitting” for the weekend. On Sunday afternoon I took mom and dad out for a drive and to pick up some groceries. I placed the box of donuts in the centre of the dining room table, sitting on top of something which put it a good 9 – 15 inches above the surface of the table. I also strategically placed the chairs around the table so access to the donuts was limited to say the least.
Upon returning home, the first thing I saw when we walked into the dining room was a torn up box on the floor. There was also a smear of blueberry filling across the floor. Farley was nowhere to be seen, hiding upstairs. Bosco was trying to suck the last bit of grease out of a piece of the cardboard box. Maggie, meanwhile was lurking in the background…
After some forensic investigation and DNA testing on the torn box pieces it can now be revealed that it was Farley who was the main culprit in this case. It would also seem as though Maggie didn’t get any of the donuts – she is pretty little and was in all likelihood totally shut out from participating in the pig out.
Also, after interviewing some friends of Farley’s it would seem that she has a thing for donuts and can smell them out a mile away. So it is my conclusion that the Case of the Missing Donuts has now been successfully solved.
Now if I could only find my shoes…
I will be participating in my 4th RELAY FOR LIFE on June 4th here in Brighton.
I am going to walk the Survivors Lap only this year so I am not going to hit anyone up for sponsoring me . However, I do ask that if you are approached by someone asking to be sponsored you do so instead of sponsoring me. You have all made my previous goals attainable and I am sure that you will help someone else attain their goal for themselves or their team.
We all benefit from the funds raised for Relay, I am living proof of that.