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Meet Wanda

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This month I'm very pleased to introduce you to your neighbour Wanda, better known as Wanderful here on our community. Here's a bit about Wanda and her experience so far, in her own words-

Hello, my name is Wanda; my online name is a play on words... Wanderful is what I hope to  be someday.

I joined the Cancer Connection family because I relate to people better online and in chat  rooms than I do in person. I didn’t used to be like this, but, cancer changes you and it has  made me more emotional. Being emotional is a trait I dislike in myself; somehow it makes me  feel weak. Weak is what I know that I am not.

How did I get here? I grew up in a home dominated by Canada’s military. We lived on and off  military bases, but even off base, the military is in every corner of your life. I am the youngest  of four children, three girls and a boy. I think I have sorted drifted through life doing what was  expected of me.

It was expected that I graduate high school and get married, so I did... I have two wonderful  boys who are my whole world. My marriage lasted about 23 years. After the break up, I knew I didn’t have a choice but to support myself, so I went to college at 44 years old and graduated at 46. After graduation I landed a part time job that I did not like...

Next step find a new job that I do like... every job posting I read required a university degree.. So.. I guess if I want out of this, I was getting a degree. I completed my degree in June of this year. I did happen to land a job that I love, and I am looking forward to going back to when this cancer thing takes second place. The new job, I worked at for a year and I was diagnosed while I was at work. What a crazy day that was. My job is reading health records for Trillium gift of Life. I was supporting more than 25 hospitals all over Ontario.

                                                                            Graduation, June 5 2014

On April 15 I was working at a hospital in northern Ontario and I was experiencing abdominal pain, I thought I had food poisoning. I took a detour up to the emergency department of the facility I was working at, in my mind I would get shot with a pain killer and be on my way. I still had a whole day of work for me as well as two more hospitals to see that week and 9 the following week.

That’s not how the day evolved... bloodwork, tests, x-ray and CT followed.. next there was a young ER doc at my side talking about bowel obstructions, masses and cancer. I was admitted to this hospital for a few days until I talked them into letting go home to my home hospital. I was three hours from home in a rental car. They finally let me come home and see the local doctors.

Results, I have Stage 4 Colon Cancer with Liver and Lung metastasis.

I had a bowel resection on May 5, out of hospital on May 10, post op infection and readmit May 18, out again May 23. I took each turn in the road like a champ... so I’m told. I had plans for the summer; cancer was not going to get in the way. My son got married on May 31 and I danced at his wedding. I also attended University Convocation on June 5th.

               Dancing with my youngest son (not the groom)                 Dancing with my oldest son (the groom)

So far I have had 8 cycles of Chemotherapy; there is no hard end in sight for me so far. I have been told that I will have a CT about every 4 treatments and the progression of treatment will be judged by that. So far I have had the initial CT and one follow up. The cancer tumors have shrunk, but I have an enlarged uterus and this will be assessed by ultrasound next week. Each cycle of chemotherapy gets more difficult to endure. I was asked by my oncologist if I wanted to cut back on the strength of the cocktail I was being given. My response to that was a big “NO” if I can still walk out of here then we can keep it up and kick cancer in the butt.

For relaxation, I read a lot. It’s easy to get lost in a make believe world. If you are the kind of person that can’t put the book down until the chapter is over, I would suggest James Patterson books. The chapters are short and easy to get through.  My sisters also gave me a wonderful camera for a graduation present. I’m looking forward to learning how to use it to its maximum potential.

None of us chose to be here, part of cancer connection. I enjoy reading the posts and responding. All of us, the people who have cancer and their caregivers need to understand that a cancer diagnosis is not the end of the world. You only need to read the news every day to see how life can be cut short by any random act. We need to make the most of every day. Please don’t treat your mother, son, daughter, sister brother, father, or partner as though they are dying. We want to live; we may be stubborn and insist on doing things you think we shouldn’t. We need to feel vital and included.

                                                                                    My wonderful boys

Every day I try to make someone smile. It could be that young store clerk in training, who needs to know its ok to get frustrated. It might be the middle aged clerk who has pretty earrings on; she needs to know she is appreciated. It might be the older lady or man struggling to get something in the car at home depot, an unexpected hand might make their day.

Army Run September 21, 2014 in Ottawa, about 4 cycles into chemo, a 5K walk is not out of the exercise routine for a great cause. My sisters are my primary caregivers.

Thank you to Wanda for sharing a bit of her story and experience with us, and for also sharing tips on relaxation. Please join in on the conversation, ways to relieve tension.


Thanks Wanda, I was asked by my niece (Wanda) to run in the Ottawa Army run next year. I am a survivor of Melanoma and they gave me less than 20% to live one year and now I'm still bothering everyone at 15yrs. I agree with what you say, to live well and do what you can if you want to, just rest when you need it and then go again. Stay positive that is the only way, and it works. It did for me. Good Luck and keep thinking the way you do and you will win the battle...,
  • Posted Mon 15 Dec 2014 09:16 AM EST
Wanda, Your story is inspirational, you ARE a very strong woman. I am struggling right now, not as a patient but as a caregiver. My spouse was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on 02 June and last summer was hell. We tried to keep our lives as normal as possible, however he was so ill and week. We missed our entire summer with chemo. Summer is our time as we are avid fishermen and back to nature/roughing it - campers. Just like your journey, we are trying to be strong and doing all we can to stay on top of things. His tumor has shrunk but not quite enough for surgery. More chemo in the weeks to come and then another CT scan. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story and stay strong, stay positive. BJL
  • Posted Thu 27 Nov 2014 12:56 PM EST
Thanks for sharing Wanda....I appreciate your stubborn tenacity!
  • Posted Sun 16 Nov 2014 07:20 PM EST

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