“ In a few days, this will be easier. It’s amazing what we can get adapt to when necessary, and that goes for being confronted with cancer, too. It’s a nightmare, and then . . . then somehow you are managing things.
Catherine Brunelle is a mAss Kicking scribe. She is an author, online community manager for Facing Cancer Together (Canada), blogger/copy writer for Sister Leadership, a freelance writer, and freelance editor. We were impressed with her candid take on her personal journey with breast cancer through her blog, so we connected with her online.
mK: Thanks for doing this Catherine! What/ when was your diagnosis? How did you find out about your diagnosis?
CB: I was initially diagnosed three years ago with Stage 3, ER+ breast cancer in 2010. This past summer I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I found out about the metastasis when planning to get pregnant. My oncologists had some in-depth scans done and that picked up the spots on my lungs.
mK: What were your symptoms?
CB: None for the metastatic cancer. But this is something everyone looks over their shoulder for, isn’t it?
mK: Why did you get involved with Advocacy? What organizations are you involved with?
CB: I began blogging, and that lead to me to the Canadian organization of FacingCancer.ca. I cannot that say I’m an advocate, but I tell my story and I support others as much as I can through the online Facing Cancer Together community. It’s a place for women with cancer and those who support them.
mK: Who is your hero or are your heroes?
CB: My literary hero is Margaret Atwood. I love her work. And Lucy Maud Montgomery too. But I have loads of heroes. My parents, my husband, my incredible friends; they all have something in them that inspires me.
mK: What motivates you?
CB: My writing motivates me – it thrills me. And my husband, he’s picked me up and nudged me forward time and again. (But I do the same for him.)
mK: Cool. Writing is a great way to collect and organize your thoughts! When was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnosis?
CB: I remember it exactly. It was all the way after chemotherapy and radiotherapy had ended. We took a trip to Portugal on a dirt cheap Ryan Air flight and stayed four days. I remember walking about the market and tasting the cheese, going to the beach, feeling so good. Travelling is part of how I met my husband, and there’s nothing we love to do more . . . other than sleep in on Sunday. So yeah, that’s when I first felt like myself. After the metastatic diagnosis . . . I feel like that is another line in the sand between who I was and who I am. (When I say another, I mean after the first diagnosis). What makes me feel like myself is the book. After stage four diagnosis I decided to self-publish my fiction novel. It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I ran a Kickstarter campaign which rocked, and then afterward directed the creation of my novel. 2013 doesn’t just feel like the year I was dx metastatic . . . it feels like the year I became an author. It’s my dream
mK: Congrats on the book! What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
CB: Laugh – so many things, too many things to list in one article. Friends and family are normally at the epicenter of the cause. Cry – separation, frustration, being overwhelmed, cutting onions. Angry: Cancer, cigarette smoke I can’t avoid, and that most horrible expression, “They lost their battle.”
mK: What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
CB: Married a Hungarian.
mK: HAHAHA! What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor? How did you overcome it?
CB: With metastatic cancer, there is no end point of the challenge. So, I get out of bed and I do what I love. Oh wait, I know. I go to my hospital appointments even thought I’d much rather run away and hide in a beach hut where the ocean water is aqua blue and I could earn a living telling people’s fortunes.
mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
CB: Cookies. I’m waiting for the research study that reveals them to be cancer-fighting.
mK: Well, if cookies bring you “happiness,” and happiness improves your Quality of Life (QOL)… an argument can be made that cookies are cancer fighting. hee hee hee. Random question time… If you were transported 100 years into the past, what would you like to be credited with inventing?
CB: A damn good book, which is what I also get to do today – invent stories
mK: What do you like to do in your spare time?
CB: I love to meet friends for tea, read a great bit of fiction, and when I am in the mood write, write, write.
mK: What are you up to now?
CB: I’m promoting my novel, The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending, which I self-published. There are other things too, but nothing makes me feel better than that.
mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
CB: This is what my husband and I tell each other when bad news comes: “In a few days, this will be easier.” It’s amazing what we can get adapt to when necessary, and that goes for being confronted with cancer, too. It’s a nightmare, and then . . . then somehow you are managing things.
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
CB: When my little brother was born, I cut his umbilical cord. I don’t know if he even knows that.
mK: Wow! You should bring that up in future arguments with him! Older siblings ROCK! hee hee hee … Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
CB: Keep kicking that mAss.
Catherine Brunelle: Umbilical Cord Cutter, Canadian Cookie Monster, Bookworm, spouse of a Hungarian, world traveler, breast cancer blogger, and author. Thanks for the interview Catherine! Check out her website when you can.