Lain's Log

Reflecting on 2011

January 13/12.

I'm not really big on "year-enders". (Guess I wrote and edited enough of them as a news reporter over the years to sink a ship).

But since 2011 turned out to be the saddest and most challenging year I've ever faced, decided to take a reflective look back, and maybe try to thank some of the unbelievable people who unexpectedly bounded up to help me survive the year, in more ways than one. Among my favourite things in life? Family, friends and laughter - (the more, the better).  Despite the unbearable pain of this past year, miraculously, I also got treated to an over-abundance of those very things I love best.

To start the year off, just weeks after the death of our beloved Uncle Ev, (artist, skater, sculptor, knitter, and a million other things), I was given the huge honour of acting as MC at his Celebration of Life on January 16/11. Had barely recovered from the death of my Mum, two months earlier, (and also acting as MC at HER Celebration of Life), when I was back at the podium again, hosting a tribute to HIS incredible accomplishments. Only managed to get thru these insanely emotional events with the help of plenty of Inderal. - For anyone who doesn't know about Inderal, it slows the flow of adrenaline to the system, allowing you to be able to speak in front of a crowd without the "fun" of heart palpitations, gasping for air or passing out on the floor. (damn handy drug to know about in this family, lemme tell ya).

Uncle Ev and I model some of our gifts one Christmas Day a number of years ago. He was a natural! I miss him SO much.

Ev's Celebration of Life was unlike any other I've ever witnessed. My cousin, Kevan, (Ev's son),
told me later, this was a true room of love. Indeed.

Didn't have any great pics of my hosting duties, but here's a youtube video clip of me, introing our beloved (and extremely talented) extended family members, Franc Mosbaugh and his sister, Mary Spence-Thomas who performed the stunning song, Don't Misunderstand in memory of Uncle Ev.

My son, Max Bornstein, and my nephew, (my sister, Carrie's son), Lee Mosbaugh, shared vibrant memories of their late, great Uncle Ev. Carrie & I were so proud they teamed up to tell this special story together - and made everyone laugh hysterically in the process. (Ev sure would have gotten a kick out of it!)

My sister, Carrie, worked out this stunning arrangement of REMEMBER, with her friend, Julia Seager Scott, my daughter, Kate, Mary Spence-Thomas & Franc Mosbaugh, in memory of Ev. (We're talkin' killer material here).

My fave cuz, Kevio, somehow made it through a tribute to his Dad on that special day,  (unlike me, drug-free), about Ev's incredible artist's hands, among other things. - Not a dry eye in the house.

Following the emotion of the Ev Celebration, I had some blissful days and moments with my kids, including one afternoon at Aspetta (in Kensington Market) on January 28. My son, Max, did a live solo performance, featuring his version of John Mayer's The Heart of Life,

and his own take on sister, Kate's original love song, Just Admit - (with her help, holding the music).

Only days later, on February 4th, I suddenly woke up to unexpected pain and the horror of discovering a lump in my breast. Rushed to make an appointment (February 17), for a mammogram (which revealed absolutely nothing), and an ultrasound, (which was inconclusive). On the way into the clinic for procedures, the radiologist's report said I had a "solid lump of dense tissue/possible nodule." Finally, on March 1, time for a delightful core needle biopsy. Had to beg the Doc to give me Lidocaine, so the "gun" procedure wouldn't be too painful. He (thankfully) agreed. Three samples were taken and sent off to the lab. Then, the long wait for results began.

In the meantime, hung out with my kids, watching more performances, including Kate's take on Drake's
controversial Best I Ever Had. (better known as "You Da Fuckin' Best"). Am I the only Mum around who is PROUD of the way she learned these ridiculously challenging lyrics?? I think she's fantastic!

And then, Charlie Sheen, (in the midst of a battle with everyone in the universe),  became my much-needed kick-butt inspiration/blog mascot, channelling me his out-there courage, (and Tiger Blood) - which I desperately craved. In the process, the hilarious "Songify This" number became my fave video for months. (STILL love it). WINNING!!

Charlie's song! - "Dude, can't handle it"!!!

On March 9th, I went alone to my GP's office. I was her last appointment of the day on a cold and snowy Wednesday night. Went in with fingers crossed, praying for good news, but within minutes, learned I had breast cancer. Came out in tears, but thinking about Sheen's freaky fierce philosophy. When asked by a reporter about his bitter battle with TV producers, here's what transpired:

Interviewer: "How do you plan on winning that war?"
Charlie: "With zeal. And focus. And violent hatred."

I realized, (despite my "secondary - but often overwhelming blog mascot", The Cowardly Lion), - Charlie's philosophy was the one I HAD to grab by the balls, to win my OWN war, so I did. Days later, my best friend,

Franelle Silver, who lives in L.A.,  arranged to have our old teen idol, Bobby Sherman

Bobby & me, many years ago!

call me on the phone. I wasn't home, but he left a message on the machine. Franelle told him about my health issues and he immediately agreed to call. (Thank you Franelle!!) I know his voice SO well after a lifetime of listening to it, (and interviewing him several times over the years), and was stunned to hear his words when I got home. He sent me his best wishes and love, called me darlin', and told me, "You will overcome!"  Meant so much to me.

Minutes after hearing from Bobby, I got a FB "Likes this" message from Kevin Shea, (above) - an old record rep pal of mine from my Global TV days. Little did I know, Kevin had left the music biz and joined the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation! Somehow, Bobby Sherman miraculously brought Kevin & me together, which in turn,  put me in touch with the best breast surgeon in Toronto, Dr. David McCready, and I became a patient of his and the extraordinary PMH team. (a thousand thank yous, Kev!) My husband, Sam, says it was karma. Who knows? Maybe he's right! My surgery for a lumpectomy was scheduled for April 27th. For the next month, (before entering hospital), I spoke to several friends who tried to calm my insane, over-the-top fears of pain, of the possible loss of a breast, or worse, of dying. I didn't want to be placated. I didn't want bullshit. I didn't want reassurance. I wanted the unvarnished truth about cancer.

In my memory, two people stand out above all others when I first received this bad news. Cathy Brioux, the wife of my longtime friend, TV critic Bill, spoke to me at length by phone. She'd endured a horrendous battle with breast cancer several years earlier, and did as I requested, telling me what it's like, "no candy coating." She was the ONLY person to clearly inform me how cancer affects the brain, heart and soul, and that Docs don't always know how to address that part of the issue. (Boy, was she ever right). Till I spoke with her, I'd only thought of cancer as a physical problem and had NO clue the disease would mega-mess with my mind. But it DID, bigtime. Cathy had many horrifyingly black days when she couldn't face any more hurdles. Somehow, she managed to get through. Her words hit me hard, but strangely, I was very happy to hear the REAL story from her and to understand that cancer is as much a psychological issue as it is a matter of the body.

Then I read about Cynthia Mulligan. The CITY TV reporter had recently completed her cancer treatment at Princess Margaret and started a blog about her situation. Her blog inspired me to want to write my own personal experiences. One afternoon, (though we had never met), she gave up her entire lunch hour to talk on the phone and answer all my questions. We laughed, cried, commiserated. She told me SHE got through it and I would too! She also promised me that within a year, I would be helping someone ELSE, by answering questions for THEM the way she was for me. (I didn't believe her at the time, and burst into tears when she told me this, but she was right).

Months later, I finally met CITY News reporter Cynthia Mulligan by chance, on the Danforth - both survivors! By the end of our original chat, I was determined to start my own blog, (though I had no idea HOW, until my daughter, Kate, stepped in to set it up for me).

On April 8, I underwent my first-ever MRI. Decked out in the fashionable blue hospital gown again and hot sox (not), I was ready for my closeup. Sexy. The MRI results showed that the cancer was not "multi-focal", which was great news.
Through it all, Charlie Sheen continued to be one of my guiding lights. His fuck-the-world attitude at the time, seemed to inspire me to move forward with this battle. A friend gave me a Sheen shirt ("WINNING"!!) - and I wore it the night Charlie came to Toronto, in his honour. Helped me feel empowered. (hey, whatever works!) A great friend of mine always made me laugh by saying, "If anybody bugs you, just 'Go all Sheeney on them!" - and sometimes I DID!!)

During the time of my many visits to hospital, my sister, Carrie and I also continued the massive job of cleaning out our late Mum's house, to prepare it to be sold. We renamed the house the "Hidey Hole" and spent many weeks there working together - (or sometimes, playing with our old Barbie dolls which had been stored for decades at her place).

But most of the time it was long hours of hard physical work, sorting, ditching things and cleaning. It went on for months. It was a sad, but special time for Carrie and me, as we shared so many memories, stories, laughs and tears during the final cleanout of Mum's home. My lumpectomy surgery was scheduled for April 27th. I was petrified about it and was sure I would lose most of my breast.

My whole life, I'd always loved having breasts and the thought of this loss had me in tears, daily.

I had to face other unpleasant appointments which included dye injections in the breast to mark the surgical area, and the lovely and charming "jamming of the wire procedure" (NOT fun at all), to aid the surgeon in the wire-guided lumpectomy operation. I complained so much about the fear of pain, and then received a message from my old high school friend, Jeffrey Morgan, (who had been through some painful trials of his own).

Many years ago, I took this funny pic of Jeffrey at a Northern Secondary School reunion. We were supposed to enter the school at the doorway marked '70s, but naturally, Jeffrey (who always goes his OWN way), chose the door to the '30s! - Now entering The Twilight Zone!

Jeffrey's message to me said, "You kids today don't know how lucky you have it now. Back in my day they just gave you a shot of Old Rotgut and a bullet to bite on before they dug in with whatever they could find that was vaguely sharp and not too rusty!" All alone, in that stupid gown, thinking about what Jeffrey said, I burst out laughing and couldn't stop. It's amazing how so many things people said to me came into play in my brain at the least likely, and often most inopportune times! LOVED it.  (thanks, Jeffrey for ALL of your advice and concern during the past year).

 Before going for these procedures, I surprised my cousin Marilyn when she came to drive me to the hospital one day. I asked if she would take some semi-nude shots of me before I'd be all battered, bruised and operated on, so I could remember what my breast looked like beforehand. (I've been told ALL women facing breast cancer surgery do this).

As a fab photog, she then surprised ME by agreeing. We had only three minutes to take the shots before we'd be late for my appointment, so I tossed a pink boa around my neck and we quickly did some crazy pics. (I really don't have a problem with running the whole shot, - I mean, afterall, this IS a blog entry about BREAST CANCER, but I think others in the fam, might, - so can only go so far!) I was happy with the "glamour pics" LOL - and I'm glad Marilyn took them for me.

Sam & I had to be at Princess Margaret Hospital at 7:30 a.m. the day of surgery, and I wasn't allowed to wear makeup. Gak. (well, I cheated a little with a tiny bit of base, I mean come ON!!)

But hours afterwards, in excruciating pain and drugged to the hilt, I sat in my hospital bed and put on tons 'o makeup. Damned if I was going to leave the place looking like crap! (even if I was FEELING like crap!)

Sam went to get the car while my sister, Carrie, wheeled me to freedom! The phenomenal pain went on for a long time, but that was soon accompanied by something else, which is rather unexplainable. After the bandages came off and I discovered I HADN'T lost most of the breast, only a small lump, I was unbelievably exhilarated.

BIG TIME. Suddenly, my mind, body and soul were overtaken by a raging, outta control physical force within. It felt for all the world like a revving motor somewhere inside my heart or stomach, I'm not really sure where.
The wild sense of well-being was absolutely overwhelming. I felt fantastic. I didn't want to sleep, could barely eat, just wanted to be awake and doing things 24 hours a day. Sleep was pointless to me. And I lost weight.

Everything I had done in the past, now seemed totally mundane. I couldn't fathom the thought of grocery shopping, garbage, cooking, cleaning, cat litter. I was SO rejuvenated, I only wanted to do BIG, EXCITING, CELEBRATORY things.

Just nine days after surgery, I dressed up and went to see The Nylons at Hugh's Room.

I was SO on and outta control that night, I HAD to have my picture taken with the boys (including my bro-in-law, Garth Mosbaugh - far right).

I went back to Hugh's Room a few weeks later to see singer Marc Jordan.

Again, I INSISTED on seeking Marc out during intermission for a photo. "Intensity Entity" was forcing me to do this and I apparently had NO say in the matter. It HAD to happen. It was all I cared about. I NEEDED to DRESS UP, ditch the hideous "granny underwear", put on tight, revealing, sexy clothing and feel like the most feminine woman on the planet! Marc didn't even bat an eye when I rushed up to him. Just wished me good luck with the blog!

Intensity Entity COMMANDED me to go HOT, all the way! No more Sears. (yawn). No more Bay. Zzzzzz. (BORING!!!)
I was being pushed by this internal force to head DIRECTLY to La Senza,

and La Vie En Rose, for sexy, lacey lingerie,


even the "Santa Baby" look! GO FOR IT!!

There was NOTHING I could do to stop this revving feeling, which I sometimes shortened to the nickname of I.E., as everything in me felt SOOOOOOOOOOOOO  intense. It was indescribable and NO ONE I spoke with could understand what the hell I was talking about! The medical oncologist simply said it was stress, but I KNOW it was WAY more than that. I'm quite sure others knew (or guessed) what was going on with me, but for some reason, it hadn't hit ME yet. I didn't get it at ALL. Then one day, WHAM!

In the midst of 16 radiation appointments at Princess Margaret Hospital, (I remember distinctly, it was radiation treatment #7), I finally GOT it. This revving feeling had come upon me not only because I now had a second chance at life, but also because I hadn't lost what I perceived as my sexuality.

I dressed up for all the radiation appointments!

For fun, I wanted to feel HOT even in the hospital dressing room! What can I tell ya?

I'd been heavily warned I would suffer from LOW SELF ESTEEM after the surgery,

but just the OPPOSITE had happened because I didn't lose my breast.

I KNOW this sounds bad, since I'm placing such importance on the physical, but I couldn't help it.

The fact that I still had my breast made me feel like a sexual being,

after having believed I would NEVER feel sexy again.

I spoke twice to a psychiatrist about all of this. She wanted me to go on anti-psychotic medication. I made the decision that feeling GOOD about yourself was NOT a reason to go on meds,

so I refused the prescription, quit going to see her and decided to continue living my own way - with major league energy, ferocity and intensity. - Ka-BOOM!

I also spoke to a number of old friends. I discovered my saving grace through all this (besides an extremely supportive family), was friends. My oldest friend in the world, Karen (Robbie) Hall has been a doctor in Michigan for 20 years.

When she heard the tale of what I'd been through, she told me she felt there was no reason to take anti-psychotic meds. She explained that my traumatic journey, (losing my Mum, then Uncle Ev, then the breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and selling Mum's house), was enough to drive anybody 'round the bend,

and she was thrilled I'd managed to get through it and come out smiling on the other side.

A lot of people lent their support during the months of my illness. As they say, "It takes a village!" I want to single out some of those who helped me.

My old friend, Eric Posner, is a brilliant guy and ex-Global TV editor, (who I always say knows about EVERYTHING). He took hours to edit the video tribute we showed at Mum's Celebration of Life. Months later, when I told him about the cancer, he read my blog and later talked to me about the Doc's request that I take anti-psychotic drugs. He voiced his opinion, advising against the meds. He talked me through a lot of things, always made me feel better, and I thank him for that.

And my friend of 38 years, TV critic & brilliant/funny writer, Bill Brioux (whose wife had been through breast cancer a few years before) told me he understood only too well, I'm on a roller coaster ride of a journey. I commented to Bill that his wife Cathy was the first person ever to tell me that cancer fucks with the mind, and that she was right on the money about that, and I felt (as Regis Philbin would say), "OUTTA CONTROL"!  He responded with a heartfelt email message which said, "Your awakening is natural and while it might bewilder you and your family at times, being out there is better than not being out there Elaine, be as out there as you can stand. You're on a mission. Fasten your seatbelts. Your family has to give you the space to explore and express. You will come back down to earth, but enjoy the view from inner/outer space, most of us never get to experience it. Any time you want to talk: Operators are standing by. Let your freak flag fly Elaine--losin' it is good, you have everything to gain".
- Thanks, Bill, for everything and for making the time to help me.

Meanwhile, my very special friend, (the one who always prefers to remain anonymous and who, last month, fell off the roof of her house, suffering numerous very serious injuries), has been there for me EVERY step of the way from diagnosis right up till now. She's heard every inane freakin' detail of this convoluted past year, and gave me nothing but support, advice and love. Though I can't thank her publicly, I'll thank her in this manner and she'll know. I LOVE you "Gladys"!  Hang in there!!

Apart from those people I've already mentioned in this blog entry, there are so many other friends I want to thank for helping me survive 2011, (even at the risk of leaving out names), I'm going to try to list some of them.
Dan & Valerie Ivak, Joanne Silver (my pals since 1970), - I cried on their shoulders often,

Emmy award winning writer Bruce Kirschbaum (here with his pal, Larry David). Bruce called me every few weeks from L.A. just to check up on me and was so kind, (and, of course, FUNNY AS HELL!!)

Pam Pickard - without her, don't know WHAT I would have done! Laughter & tears-r-us, right Pam?

Another old high school friend, Dean Rogers. We both lost our Mums in the span of one year. He took me out to the theatre several times to cheer me up!

Bonnie Laufer Krebs, TV interviewer extraordinaire and my close friend since the early Global days, always there when I needed her!

Rob Davidson. We met back in the CHFI radio days and the friendship continued all through the Global years and right up until now. He has such a great laugh. Always makes me feel better.

Cameraman Rick Dade (here with Rob). We've been friends since the Seneca College days and he's always had the ability to have me in stitches in seconds. (not  hospital stitches - D'oh!)

Kim Gertler, my former (and FIRST) Global TV producer. He's kept in contact. When he heard about Intensity Entity,  (which I described to him as "part energy, part adrenaline, part hormones and part sexuality," his spontaneous answer to me in pop-up message form, was, "Embrace the vixen within!" LOL. Kim was ALWAYS the master of a headline!

Entertainment writer Anne Brodie, another pal from decades ago. She's a very kind soul.

NewsTalk 1010 newscaster Dave Agar, (best radio newsman in Canada), whom I first met in 1975. He was among the first to send me encouraging emails when I told him about the breast cancer and blog. His beautifully crafted writing meant so much. Thank you, Dave. You've ALWAYS been very special to me.

"Ramblin' Man" Paul Mackay, a FB friend, whose own blog inspired the way I write mine. I finally got the opportunity to meet him one day and he was just as funny in person as he was online. (you may have noticed, I ADORE funny people!) Paul, you've been quite a blessing in my life.

Jazzy Jaymz Bee never let me down! He was always there to sweep me off my feet when I needed it, even
saving me a place at his Dominion on Queen table to see one of my favourite singers,

Don Francks! - I thank both Jaymz AND Don for the inspiration! (Don is 78 now!)

Randy Maxwell, my old friend from the CFTR Radio (680 news) days. He called many times to check on me, took me out to lunch and even offered to take some pictures of me (when I was struggling with my camera and wanted that special "golden hue"). He travelled downtown to Broadview and Gerrard and took a series of shots. I love the way they turned out!

This is one of the pics Randy took at sunset.

Paul Nodwell (canoeing here with his girlfriend, my sister, Carrie). He kept up on the "Lainey news flashes" thru Carrie and was a phone call or FB pop-up message away, if ever I needed him!

CTV editor Doug Crich . We only met once, but he's sent constant messages of support, which I really appreciate!

Photographer and artist Kevin Patterson, another person I've only met once, at a book publishing event thrown by my cousin, Patrick Boyer (former MP). We started talking about M*A*S*H* and before we knew it, we were FB friends. He has also been more than supportive and we've shared lots of laughs.

Kevin Marsh - my old highschool sweetheart. He sends me FB messages, always encouraging.

John Axelson! At the height of Intensity Entity, my old Seneca College friend, whom I hadn't heard from
in 30 years, suddenly reappeared in my life via Facebook. I'd given up looking for him, but he tracked me down and sent me a copy of the manuscript he's writing - Stalking  The Average Man.

It's been a BLAST reading  his book, catching up with him and even talking to him on SKYPE from time to time. Good luck with the book, J! Talk soon!

Kristi Stewart, voice-over expert/actress, a friend from the Global years, has kept tabs on me and we even
got together one day for lunch to catch up. Hope to see you soon when I finish my current voice-over course and maybe you can give me some pointers, Kristi!

Matt McMahon is a Greektown neighbourhood man I met on the street while out with my pal Dean Rogers. He took the pic of Dean and me in this entry, and then became a FB friend who tried to help me with my photography aspirations and even came by the house to give me a tripod!

The always beyond amazing Franc Mosbaugh, Mary Spence-Thomas and my bro-in-law, Garth Mosbaugh (performing at Princess Margaret Hospital on the final day of my radiation!) They're never far away when I need them.

(Shy) Sam, (who was a rock), and our kids, Kate and Max, of course, were the faithful home team. I won't list all the family members, but each and every one of them played a unique role in my surviving 2011. Thanks to all the Bornsteins, Staples and Lorings! - especially Carrie. (Don't even get me STARTED on HER!!)

 A few celebs also kept me jazzed during the tough times.

Howard Stern has had me in hysterics ever since Sam got SIRIUS radio for me back in the summer,

William Shatner, who at age 80, inspired me with his energy and his "Just Say YES" attitude!

Singer Bryn Christopher, whose music I listened to EVERY SINGLE DAY since my diagnosis. For whatever reason, I swear his voice helped in my recovery! I still listen to him in the car all the time!

Local musicians, brothers,  Aubrey & Dana Bolton became my blog musical mascots and always entertained me with a special tune. I never gave them money, but bought them each a beer inside the LCBO store, (which they seemed to appreciate more than cash)! Cheers guys!

Hugh Laurie, star of HOUSE, always made Mundane Mondays SO much better! Love him, love the show.

And why, soitenly! The 3 Stooges were always available to make me laugh in times of trouble & turmoil!
Nyuk nyuk nyuk.

In the midst of all this medical stuff, Carrie & I had to suddenly get everything out of Mum's place much sooner than expected - (since the closing date was unexpectedly moved up by many weeks). Her son Lee, my daughter, Kate and her boyfriend, Damian, helped us roll furniture down the street, away from Mum's place and into Carrie's garage, till we could figure out what to DO with it!

We had to turn over the house keys to our lawyer, Doug.

then stand there and see that SOLD sign up on the lawn,

try to be cheery while closing up the house for the last time.

and finally, after all the months hanging out in the old Hidey Hole together, had to say a tearful goodbye
to Mum's house. It was such a sad day for both of us, but we did it!

This last note on Mum's bulletin board, she had copied down on a tiny piece of paper. It was a quote from her favourite soap opera, The Y & R. It says: "Live your life while you still have it. It will be gone soon enough."

So 2011 is a wrap! Cut, print, moving on!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


At January 14, 2012 at 1:57 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This must have taken you ages to write, Elaine! But how enjoyable it was to read. Thank you.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home