Cheers To Life: Maui + 1 Year Since Cancer Diagnosis

shave ice maui

One year ago I was standing in the kitchen, probably dinking around on my Instagram, maybe power-snacking on some leftover Christmas chocolate, when I got the phone call from my family doctor.

The same wonderful doctor who delivered Teddy – I can still hear her counting down from 10 when it was time to push the head out during labour – like a seasoned coach – confident, strong, guiding. Those countdowns from 10 – I could do that! I could push for ten seconds! Then all of a sudden, a release – my son’s head came through in a rush of fluids, adrenaline pouring through my system, time stood still and all of the pain and contractions screeched to a halt. My baby was plonked onto my chest, in a sea of jubilation. “His name is Teddy!” I said. 

cloudy tropical day - maui

On the phone this time, her voice was quiet, hushed, but firm. “Lyndsay, we got your biopsy results back.” She couldn’t quite say it. “It’s C.”

Cancer. She went on to say she had already made various appointments for me to get everything rolling, and fast. An appointment with a surgeon in a few days and other scans and tests were organized and ordered. My sisters and I were deep into planning mode for my mom’s 70th birthday. I remember hosting 60+ women at my house for high tea, everyone so happy and celebratory, and me trying to stay afloat with this bizarre, horrible new information. Just gotta get through. A few times I had to hide in the bathroom and cry.

tropical flowers in maui

It’s been the weirdest year. In January I was diagnosed, in a blur of shock and fear. I started IVF treatment to try and preserve embryos before chemo and it failed, and I was devastated. In February, we went to Disneyland, breast cancer diagnosis and all, as the trip had been planned for half a year. When I got home, I had surgery for partial removal of my right breast. In March, my beloved grandmother passed away. The same month, we found out my husband had gotten into his first choice residency program here in Vancouver. We decided to try one more round of IVF to see if we could get any embryos to freeze, and we ended up with three. In April I started chemo. In May, my husband graduated from medical school. June and July was more chemo, then in August a break from treatment – camping, and my son Teddy’s 3rd birthday. My hair started to duck-fuzz back to life. In September I did 20 rounds of radiation. In October I wrote this breast cancer post about my treatment. Then I finished out the year continuing my Herceptin treatments – 6 more to go!

And finally in December: a FUCKING TRIP TO MAUI! YES. We celebrated. We celebrated being alive, hard. In the most mellow way possible. Meaning, we lazed around in the tropical golden sun and soaked it up. Warm waves, so many turtle sightings it was like visiting old friends, delicious food and splashing in the pool.

giant bougainvillea flowers, maui

Hair today, hair tomorrow! The little hairdo that could. I feel like the Chinese 1990s Winona Ryder and I am so so so happy to have a hairdo. “WILL BRAKE FOR GIANT BOUGAINVILLEA BUSH”

hawaiian sun pass-o-guava nectar juice

Ice cold calorie-laden sugar-loaded pass-o-guava-nectar but I don’t caaaaaaare (GLUG GLUG GLUG)

cloudy hot day in maui

Hazy cloudy pool day.

wailea, maui

Party dog on the beach! Nap? Fuggedabout it. Run run run instead.

kinaole food truck maui

We ate from this Kinaole Grill Food Truck four times. Garlic shrimp, mahi mahi, guava pulled pork, coconut shrimp all on beds of soft seafood fragrant rice, with wild greens topped with feta and macadamia nuts. It’s parked one block from the beach, so we’d go at 5pm and eat it on a beach blanket for Maui sunset.

wailea, maui sunset swim

Sunset swim.

maui-5

Sweetness.

sunny beach in wailea, maui

Beach exploring in Wailea.

giant bougainvillea flowers, maui

More photos in front of giant bush!

swimming pool splash

Crazy 3 year old splash.

sweet maui style

Maui style – U Can’t Touch This

maui sunset, wailea

My not so little baby.

sunglasses in maui

Me feeling the deep Maui vibes. (with hair! Almost 6 months of hair growth post-chemo.)

Time will pass. It keeps rolling. Slippin’ into the future, and there’s nothing we can do. Through good times, and bad. Sickness and health! For as long as we all shall live. I started the year on fear. I ended it with a snowy hug, at our mountain cabin, crunching through forest in the dark on snowshoes with my husband, peace and quiet abound, overwhelmed with all that has transpired this past year but feeling happy, content, strong, full of love. Ready for good things. Here’s hoping 2016 is a sweet one.

Aloha, life! xo Lyndsay 

Breast Cancer Cakes

breast cancer cakes - coco cake land

When the calendar flips from September to October, the first thing on my mind is Halloween candy. Or the hilarious costume I’m going to try and get my son to wear (last year he was a hot dog). Or whether I’m going to carve a Garfield pumpkin and how am I going to sneak-eat mini peanut butter cups all month. Not this year. This year I’ve got breasts on my mind – it’s breast cancer awareness month. So I thought I would share my story of how I found my breast cancer, and what the stages of treatment were like for me, in a straight up manner. Not “look at this clear blue liquid poured on a maxi pad commercial” style, but truthfully. I had just turned 38 when I was diagnosed. I wrote this for the scared and freaked out ladies, freshly diagnosed, who might be deep-googling breast cancer treatment or staying up late reading every entry of breast cancer blogs, just as I did after I found out. I wanted to know what I was in for. I wanted information. I wanted anything, something to help, soothe, encourage, or to know that there were other women out there like me.

breast cancer awareness month cakes - coco cake land

I’ve always been somewhat-aware of changes in my breasts, mostly because my maternal grandmother had breast cancer in the 1990s. For some horribly goth and macabre reason I always imagined I would get breast cancer too. What I felt was not a lump, but a thickening of flesh, right where my right breast met my rib. Was it just my rib or something weird? I kept feeling the area, wanting it to go away. I went to my family doctor and she sent me for an ultrasound and mammogram, to put my mind at ease. The mammogram showed nothing, but because I had felt something, we did the ultrasound and I still remember light-joking with the technician and asking if she saw anything. Eventually she zoomed in to the screen to show two suspicious looking ball-like shapes. I had a biopsy, then was sent home to wait a few weeks for the results. My family doctor called me and her voice was serious, she could barely whisper that it was “C.” Invasive ductal carcinoma. The shock felt palpable. I hung up the phone and hot tears burst from my eyes and my mouth hung open. I wanted to freak the eff out right there but my 2 year old was in the other room and I could hear him calling me to come and play. My mind raced and fear overcame me. Teddy’s little voice and me thinking I was going to die, to have to leave my son and my husband and my family. My husband (then a fourth year medical student) came home and set to work organizing appointments in conjunction with my family doctor. We needed to find out if it had spread to any other parts of my body. Skeletal survey, bone scan, CT scan, blood work. It was a week of unknowns as I went through all the tests. In my mind I was planning my funeral, mind-spiralling imagining Teddy asking for me and being confused, wondering if he would remember me and me feeling so sad that he might not. Had I done enough with my life? Did I do everything I wanted to? I hamster-wheeled myself into major stress.

breast cancer awareness month cakes

As the test results rolled in, they all came out negative – nothing seemed to have spread anywhere but it would only be after surgery “they” would know for sure. My happy, pretty-pictures, cake-filled life screeched to a weird halt. I felt thrown into a snake pit of unknowns, with an overwhelming laundry list of treatments laid out for me. When I first met with my surgeon, she felt the area of my breast, examining me. I’ll never forget what she said. “I can’t believe you found this. If you had waited until this was something more prominent, this would be a completely different story.” Those words chilled me. I had felt something off, then decided to investigate it, even though I wanted to plunge my head in the ground and fuggedaboutit. My family doctor also put me in touch with a fertility doctor ASAP. Not only was I given the news I had frigging cancer, I was also being told that having another child would be unlikely – the treatments would destroy my fertility. This news crushed me harder than the cancer. We ended up doing IVF to preserve embryos for implanting once all of my treatment was finished – however, we only got 3 embryos which isn’t a lot…but I’m still hopeful. For my surgery, I opted for a lumpectomy – I was given the choice of a mastectomy (removing the entire breast) or lumpectomy (cutting out a portion of the affected breast and keeping the nipple). You get the words “survival rate” thrown around when you are making these choices. I went with partial removal. I found the idea of surgery to be pretty frightening. But the surgery was successful and the surgeon got all the margins, and three lymph nodes were removed and tested – negative. The cancer had not spread.

breast cancer awareness month cakes

Chemo may be the worst thing that has ever happened to me, physically. I had a pretty rough time with it. You feel like you ate a poison apple. Your insides feel like they’re covered in thick syrup with a brutal headache on top. Your stomach is, as I described once, “debauched buttsanity.” Your appetite is bizarre, if you can eat at all due to raging diarrhea and nausea (although they make very strong drugs to try and counter the nausea.) Water tastes sickeningly sweet. I craved super salty potato chips. You basically feel like a pale grey dog turd. And then you don’t. I started to feel better after day 10, but my mind became very stupid and I couldn’t remember anything or concentrate at all. My hair started falling out just before my second round of chemo, so my husband shaved it. (Being bald when you don’t want to be sucks donkey balls and my self esteem plummeted. It’s hard to believe it will ever grow back when you’re bald – but it really does. I’m at 13 weeks post chemo now and my hair is extremely short but it’s there, and it’s growing in pretty thick. I’d say it’s note quite an inch long yet.) After my second round, I had a horrible allergic reaction – I broke out in huge red welts all over my body, even my crotch, all over my head, my eyelids – my hands ballooned up into the world’s itchiest puffy Mickey Mouse gloves. I got a kidney infection which landed me in Emergency – I remember feeling embarrassed and feeling so ugly and unrecognizable, I wanted to show the doctors and nurses a picture of the old “me” – this is me, see? I had to get my wedding ring sawed off too because my finger was turning purple from the puffy hands. I had a “I’m going to exercise every day of my chemo” attitude initially but then felt like such shite that it turned into “I am going to lie in bed and blind my eyes with silly TV shows and feel-good rom-coms” attitude. I will say that during chemo (I had four rounds in total, spread apart by 3 weeks) I got pretty depressed.

breast cancer awareness month cakes

Zapppppp! I had 20 rounds of radiation on my breast. They tattoo you with tiny dots to help line up the laser beams (not the technical term, ha). You lie down and a giant grey machine that looks straight out of a 1960s science fiction movie hovers over top of you and blasts the area with radiation. The actual treatment only lasts a minute or two. My skin was ok for the first three weeks, and then it started to brown, and get darker – finally my nipple was practically black and cracking open raw, and the skin around it was so dark and tender and dry. Painfully tender but I moisturized daily with Glaxal Base and used Lanolin cream for the nipple – I found it in my breastfeeding storage box, it helps with dry and cracked skin during nursing and it really helped. Currently the skin is peeling off in a very disturbing, horror-movie-ish way – my breast is all sorts of skin tones. I gotta say it’s not looking so good (charred sagging old eggplant anyone?) and I wonder if, aesthetically, a mastectomy would’ve been better – but my radiation oncologist says in 6 months it will have all peeled away and will look more normal again. Just before radiation I started running again, and hitting the gym hard. I must say that this made a big difference for me – I didn’t feel too fatigued from the radiation, but most of all, it helped boost my mood and got me out of feeling depressed – the cancer blues. I managed to work out every single day of my radiation treatment. It gave me a little sense of purpose and accomplishment. I kind of liked having somewhere to go every day, too (not that going to the cancer agency every day is fun) – I had a little routine again after so many months off of just “treatment.”

breast cancer awareness month cakes

I’ve been getting another IV drug infusion every three weeks called Herceptin, because my tumour was Her2 positive. It’s a targeted treatment which I’ll be doing 16 rounds of. At first I was depressed that I had to do all of these treatments – chemo, radiation, herceptin, tamoxifen. But now I am feeling lucky that there are targeted treatments for particular types of cancers like mine. Just stepping on to the chemo floor at the cancer agency gives me anxiety and a feeling of fear – but I am getting better at going. I go for my herceptin treatments on my own. I read gossip websites or look at pictures of my kid and listen to music or I watch an episode of the Mindy Project. Distraction, and then it’s over.

breast cancer cakes

I haven’t started Tamoxifen treatment yet but it will be an oral drug I will take for 5-10 years. Again, another targeted treatment to help prevent the recurrence of my breast cancer type. It has some yucky side effects that I’m not ready for yet in my life. It basically puts you into menopause, complete with hot flashes, slowed metabolism, dryness in the lady parts, low sex drive, fatigue. And you can’t have a baby. I’m not ready to feel like a lady in menopause yet. But I’ll do it anyway. I’ve been in talks with my oncologist about waiting to start Tamoxifen until after we try implanting a frozen embryo. I told her that if I could have a baby first, I will take Tamoxifen for the rest of my life even.

breast cancer cakes - coco cake land

So that’s where I’m at now. An eight month blur of mind fuckery, body changes, depression, anxiety and happy days, too. I’ve slogged through a lot this year so far. But I’m still here. If you are reading this and you are newly diagnosed, things I would suggest: lean on your friends and family for support. It’s one of those times in life you really need their help. Seek professional support if it’s available to you (counselling, therapy). Treat your mind, body and spirit right if you can – going out for a walk, trying alternative healing treatments, going for a massage or even a pedicure – treat yo self if you can. I guess there have been a few amazing parts of my having cancer: Life. I get to celebrate another birthday and not be sad and annoying about getting older and looking old – but I get to be stoked on living. Live and let live, love harder. Feeling cared for, feeling loved by family, friends. Beautiful gestures of letters in the mail or home cooked meals and sweet cards. Words of love and caring, silly sweet gifts, thoughtful presents. Those small things would make an entire day of crap (literally and figuratively) feel better instantly. Appreciate life more. Who gives a flying dog shit about the small stuff – don’t sweat the small stuff as much. Finding exercise again to help with my mind, body and spirit. Loving on my sweet sweet little boy and snuggling and laughing with him so deeply, daily, whenever (while still being driven crazy by him sometimes – toddler alert). The love and deep pride I feel for my husband, lifting me up through my continued treatment, deciphering medical talk, bringing me flowers, loving me through my darkest and ugliest moments and most morbid jokes. My family – my parents and my sisters, especially – life is nothing without family and friends. I will leave you with this image, because it seems to have worked for me thusfar, fingers crossed. xo Lyndsay 

cop a feel save your life cakes

Cotton Candy Ice Cream Cone In The House

cotton candy ice cream cone - coco cake land

Cotton candy ice cream cone. County fairs are made for children. There’s magic and mania in their eyes as their little brains gobble everything up. Then you come back year after year through your whole life to the fair and yearn for the nostalgia that was imprinted on your brains as a child, to feel young again, to feel free and innocent and safe, untouched by a carney’s leering stare or a sexist comment or the harshness of life. The flavours – everything extra salty and extra sweet, the smell of fried foods, the hot bubbly oil turning out floating hot donuts sprinkled in cinnamon and sugar, the marquee twinkling lights, the creaky old colourful rides, the grunge and the grime. What is the flavour of cotton candy? It’s been replicated so much in other products – cotton candy toothpaste and children’s Tylenol. Sugar meets faux berry flavour? Soft melting clouds on the tongue, gone in an instant, whirled high like an air filled beehive on a paper stick.

marge simpson hair gone wild - cotton candy photo by coco cake land

pink cotton candy and sprinkles - coco cake land

cotton candy ice cream cone - coco cake land

Our favourite stops at the PNE include the tiny soft serve shack painted in red and white stripes, a white haired woman with deep creases on her face runs it, happily dispenses blobs of cool soft serve into sundae cups and cones.

cotton candy ice cream - coco cake land

Those little donuts are the deep fried gems of yesteryear. Their design remains untouched, as does the grease filled mini machines that endlessly pump out rings of batter into piping hot fat, flipped over once to brown and along the river of oil it goes til it’s all cooked, sliding down into hot lights to get scooped out into paper bags and shaken with cinnamon and sugar.

sweet estelle's rainbow sprinkles

cotton candy ice cream cone - coco cake land

Puffy bags of cotton candy tucked into our stroller – I gave Teddy a big swab of it and he happily gobbled it down and asked for more. He munched on mini donuts, letting them sit on his knee to cool down. He got his mini “baby cone” from the soft serve ice cream stand, a blobette and a swirl piped into a tiny cone. Food memories imprinted on his little three year old mind, a place to revisit year after year. xo Lyndsay 

End Of Summer Vibes and Magic Shoes

chocolate drippy soft serve cone

September 1st … it doesn’t always mean summer is over, but torrential rain here in Vancouver sort of signaled it like a heavy cloud burst beacon! The rain is welcome, however – this summer has been an awful water-shortage drought for us. Dreams of kiddie pool splashy fun disappeared and lawns dried up like blond straw. The heat was oppressive some days – but really, who can complain – we’re alive! domo dairy queen ice cream cake

So this happened: Teddy’s 3rd birthday! I had plans of a sweetly designed and fun filled birthday for him but the truth is a few days before the party was supposed to happen, I collapsed under an overwhelming stress ball – Teddy was sick with a yucky virus and I was crumbling under the mental/emotional strain of 7 months of treatment. I felt so guilty cancelling his party. But then I was reminded: I am not the me of last year. I am a different me, and I just don’t have the energy to do it. Instead, we had a mellow outing at his favourite pizza place around the corner, and Dairy Queen came to the rescue as usual with a straight-from-the-freezer Domo ice cream cake!

family pic

Pizza birthday guy and his parents. I think I look relieved.

flying V guitar for kids!

And this. Rich’s brother found this flying V kid’s guitar on Craigslist like 6 months ago and Rich drove out to Surrey to buy it – the look on Teddy’s astonished face when he opened it … and when he strapped it on for the first time – maybe one of the best moments of my life, seeing him so happy and excited. Mini mellow family birthday = just right. He has since done some serious ripping on the guitar and composed his first song, entitled “Get Away, Agedashi Mozzarella!”

lyndsay and teddy - camping

We went camping the week of Teddy’s birthday, too! Went to Miracle Beach, on Vancouver Island. It’s a gorgeous and magical place. The tide goes way out and there’s cool-on-your-feet muddy sand islands and tons of miniature crabs scooting about, and it’s just minutes from the tree covered campsite. Every night we made a fire and sat amongst the meditative crackling flames, roasting marshmallows. It was so mellow.

camping food - coco cake land

Camping food! Local strawberries, arugula salad and WIENER BURGERS, anyone? Hehe. (Veggie wieners…)

camping snacks and smores!

Local tutti fruity, marshmallows and chocolate. Gone campin’.

vintage my side of the mountain

Have you ever read this? My Side Of The Mountain by Jean George? It’s a kid’s book but it will make you want to make your own deer skin suit and cook acorn pancakes over a fire on the top of a tin can. A magical little story and perfect for camping and non-mind-torture!

teddy on the beach

Happy 3rd birthday to my sweet Teddy! We frolicked on the beach the morning of his birthday and then went to the local speedway for a MONSTER TRUCK RIDE (I was scared) and go kart racing (I had never driven a go kart but now it’s all I want to do. NEED FO’ SPEED SUNG.)

summer family pic

A camping family selfie. Grunge mom still in effect. See you next summer, camping trip!

ice pik shavery shaved ice

Back in Vancouver, I have been going wild over this shaved ice place on Kingsway called Ice Pik Shavery – look at that mountain of icy delight! I love me a wacky pile of Asian-style frozen dessert, and this place does not disappoint – the one pictured above is green tea shaved ice, fresh mango, chewy mochi, lychee jelly and grass jelly.

black sesame soft serve ice cream

Another killer new joint in Vancouver – Uyu Ice Cream! Organic soft ice cream in Asian-y fun flavours, like this black sesame soft serve with caramel drizzle.

uyu ice cream - soft serve vancouver

Any place with kid size cones is a cute little thumbs up in my books. Teddy was a very happy chappy. Fun fact: I am soft serve obsessed, always have been, and back in 2008, I had hilarious plans to open a soft serve ice cream joint – I even bought the domain name of my biz. Swirlie!! Haha. I told my friend Steph about the name of my would-be shop and she laughed at me and explained to me what a “swirlie” was – I had no idea that swirlie meant to flush someone’s head down the toilet. Oops! ^__^

pink saucony runners - magical!

I am on week 2 of my radiation! So far I am feeling pretty good. I think I owe it all to these magical unicorn pink runners. They’ve saved my sanity and have given me a daily purpose, apart from getting my breast blasted with rays. Every day I have been sweating it up at either the gym or going for a run. I come back to the house covered in sweat and proud of myself that I did something positive for my body. Before these pinkies came into my life I was pretty darn low and I knew I had to get out of my emotional eating cancer potato schlump. The power of exercise, I tell ya! Hope you are doing well, my friends – happy September to you! xo Lyndsay 

Cupcakes and Shadows

pink raspberry cupcakes - coco cake land

Is that post title goth enough for ya? Shadows… oooooooh!!!! What is lurking behind the shadows of my fragile little minnnnnd?? I made these sweet and simple pink vanilla buttercream chocolate cupcakes for my niece’s birthday last month and forgot I had photographed them all artfully (ha) on a sun drenched morning.

pink raspberry cupcakes - coco cake land

I started radiation yesterday. I can’t help but think of it in a comic way, it’s so sci-fi 1960s, you feel like you’re on a film set with huge, looming technology hovering around you, red lasers lining up dots (they tattoo you with little dots so they can line up the radiation beams properly). Maybe I felt like an animal being experimented with, or one of the lower class organ donor “clones” – children raised to donate their organs later on for the upper class – in Kazuo Ishigiro’s science fiction novel Never Let Me GoThe radiation technicians are all very nice, but like any job, they forge ahead like worker bees and maybe forget there’s a person lying there (me!) with their half boob lying out. You get used to flashing your boobs however, during breast cancer treatment.

pink raspberry cupcakes - coco cake land

I was feeling pretty dark this last month, and I was feeling worried about myself. It’s an awful and scary feeling to wake up and just not really care. I feel easily overwhelmed by things that, in my pre-cancer days, I could handle. I was guilting myself out over feeling overwhelmed and feeling down and frustrated that I felt unable to do my usual things – playdates, social outings, baking, cake or Coco Cake Land related things… then realized that I have to go easy. I’m not the me of 7 months ago. I’m in treatment and I gotta play it cool and give myself a break. I “let it go” like a Disney princess. Buying a new pair of screamingly pink runners has helped. I’ve gone power walking/light running maybe 7 times since I bought them and it helps to elevate my mood for sure. It takes a hell of a lot of pushing myself to go out and exercise because sometimes you just want to wallow in the pain, you know?

pink raspberry cupcakes - coco cake land

I’m feeling a little brighter this week, at least for now – eating a little better and exercising more. My hair is definitely growing back and although it’s still patchy and not filled in everywhere it’s looking like hair! Not a hairstyle yet by any means (I think I have months to go for that) but every day there’s a little bit more. One day at a mutha-effing time. xo Lyndsay 

The Opposite Of Cake

pink buttercream raspberry macaron - coco cake land

I ran into an acquaintance at a café the other day. She didn’t recognize me at first with my grunge smurf toque look but when she did she was kind, and chatty, and inquisitive – all things I didn’t mind. She told me that when she found out I had breast cancer, she had cried. She asked me “how are you doing – no really. How are you doing?” and it made me realize she was asking… in an offhand way… was I going to die? Or, I suppose – was I going to live? A light wave of freaked-out-ness rippled through me. This isn’t the first time this has happened – and it occurred to me that there were some people out there that had heard through the grapevine that I had cancer, and perceived that I might die. It is sort of the first thing you think when you hear about someone having cancer. What stage is it? What’s the prognosis? It always brings me straight back to that creeping feeling in my mind, the demons that come out at night when I can’t sleep, where I hamster-wheel and mind-spiral down a path of negativity. I could die, but they say I won’t. I could die, but the chances aren’t that high of a recurrence as long as I do A, B and C treatments. You are lucky you are able to do A, B and C. I know I am lucky. But A, B and C have still taken huge emotional and physical tolls out of me. And I still have D, E and F to go.

maggic boyd ceramics cup

There are days when I wake up and look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself. I look beaten, older, different. Puffy, with the bald-but-growing-back-hair of someone who’s been through chemo and the demons that go along with it. I remember going to meet with the oncology surgeon back in January, before I lost my hair (oh how I miss my hair), and riding up the elevator behind an Asian woman in a grey sweatsuit. Her hair was just a light baby duckling fuzz, patchy, coming in. Her face was unhappy, tired. A wave of panic went through me. This woman was on the other side of where I was going. The other side is still a long way away. I’m calling it my Mental Pain Mountain. The polar opposite of cake. Cake is a happy place. Cake is pretty, sweet, sugary, symbolic of love, family, friendship, community. A slice for everyone. Mental Pain Mountain doesn’t have much cake. Except for an awesome cake at the peak??

raspberry purple macaron

When I’m online, interacting in a silly/serious way on Instagram or liking pics so much I’m getting a thumb-ache, I can sometimes forget what I look like now and what I’ve been through until I start getting pangs of jealousy over pretty, stylish women posting beautifully composed photos so freely with seemingly no life problems or concerns, no cancer breathing down their neck. But then I’ll remember that online life is not real life. Many of these women are now businesswomen and entrepreneurs – they’re making a living making things look good. Which is great of course. But maybe on the other side of the iPhone they are like me – waves of depression, fatigue, never having enough time for partner/kid/work/keeping the house clean and in order. Wishing they had the energy and desire to lose ten pounds but eating a bag of chips instead. Generally glass half full but sometimes glass half empty. Dreaming and praying for things they can’t have, mourning losses of their own. Some people choose to share the uglier parts of their lives and some people don’t.

purple macaron with pink buttercream

Sharing has been healing for me, helpful. To know I’m not alone, that so many people have gone through cancer, and breast cancer, and gone to battle. I feel like I’ve been sent into a giant cartoon factory and when I entered the front door of this mysterious factory, I was a whole person – happy, confident, with long black hair, red lipstick, healthy, energetic, creative, my life ahead of me. Then they shooed me in and shut the door behind me and I went through these horrible weird pipes and darkness and got cut up on a conveyer belt, poisoned and mentally effed with… and now it’s spit me out and here I am. Yes. Sometimes I feel like factory seconds. But I am still here, I am still me, like a little root inside myself, trying to grow. xo Lyndsay 

Summer Daze

painted toes swimming pool

Summer has come to mean sunny, splashy days at the pool or beach with my little Teddy. It’s been a different feeling this summer, being a no-haired egghead, and feeling the swimsuit pain of 6 months of emotional eating, body changes and low self esteem. My hair is growing back ever so slowly. I think it’s filled enough to almost look like I’ve coloured my head with grey charcoal – it’s still patchy and baby duckling-like. It’s so hard to be patient, particularly when I get tired of being looked at on the street or at the public pool, especially. But I’ve found that nothing feels better than splashing in, head under, floating and bobbing around in underwater silence, the cool water covering my head. After a few false starts of wearing my turban into the pool, then trying a mesh baseball cap, I finally went freedom zone no hat. It felt wonderfully freeing to do LAPS. It felt amazing, gliding through water, my front stroke in wobbly, crappy form, but still just going for it, feeling my muscles working, supporting me.

pink raspberry topped cupcakes

A mostly scorchingly hot July meant it was pretty much too hot to bake … my baking motivation is kind of low anyway… but sunshine makes the prettiest shadows!

watermelon pizza with fruit toppings

Chomp chomp! I made a cute watermelon pizza with fresh fruit “topping”! It was fun to eat it like this, and when I pulled it out of the fridge after photographing it, it still looked so pretty, inviting and colourful. If only I could train my mind to think that ice cream tasted BAD. I know I’ve been hard on myself for all the emotional eating/weight gain – but I’m trying to turn it around… eat less crap, exercise more…

handmade wooden bento box - shako club

This gorgeous handmade triangle bento box! Part of the magical Shako Club bento box I received as part of a community art project.

purple macaron party

I made macaron shells a few weeks ago that were misery-making bombs – cracked tops, no feet! I made them into “almond meringue cookie open faced sandwiches” with ruffly buttercream and fresh raspberries, ha. I dunno what I did wrong. I’ll need to make them dozens more times to get the hang of it.

perfect pastel swirled cupcakes

Cute pink swirled cupcakes I made for my niece’s 4th birthday!

little boy with wooden cake toy

Teddy going zen The Matrix cake guy on me.

trawicks at the powell street festival

My little family at the Powell Street Festival - my favourite festival in Vancouver! Doing my Fugazi/ “Grunge Smurf” look with a black cotton toque. Summer is an odd, very hot time to be wearing a toque, I can tell ya that much. I figure since the hair on my sideburns and top front of my head has grown in a bit, maybe it just looks like I’m a seriously punk mama? We were at the park by our house the other night after going out for pizza and the Trans March rolled through – I felt right at home, visually –  I’ve been feeling so gender bendered, physically – it was actually very nice.

kaki gori powell street festival

Kaki gori – Japanese finely shaved ice! I could eat this every day. I am obsessed with ice.

coleman tent golden ears park

We made it camping for one night! Wildcard last minute decision, we packed up and headed to Golden Ears Provincial Park just outside of Vancouver and camped among tall trees and the beautiful Alouette Lake.

centennial beach boundary bay

Hot beach day at Centennial Beach in Tsawassen. I love this photo as it looks like Teddy has tiny little people living on his head… I’ll leave you with this nice interview Creators Vancouver did with me. Elizabeth asked me lots of nice, interested questions – as well as this, which I’ll ask you too: What advice would you offer to others looking to pursue creative working lives? Hoping you’re all having an excellent summer, cake pals! xo Lyndsay 

Cupcakes Revival and Boob Exams – Cop A Feel!

cute cupcake face - coco cake land

Winkety wink! G’day mate! (with a paper watermelon mouth.)

dairy queen soft serve cone

Cheers, cheers and more cheers! It’s been a week and a half since my last chemo. That barfy nausea inducing all-over-body hell is over. I hope forever. In a way, it’s been so surreal, these past six months. A young woman with breast cancer – it still doesn’t feel like me. I have the physical scars, I have the taste memories, the fear… but my optimism shines on. Life! It feels at my fingertips again, to enjoy, create and explore.

pink rosette cupcakes - coco cake land

Kind of in love with cupcakes again. The sheer simplicity, cuteness and just plain yumminess of a bite of cake with a creamy sugar sweet frosting; the texture crunch of some sprinkles or burst of juice from a fresh vibrant berry. I was so sick of making cupcakes for so long … I think the world wanted to barf thinking about cupcakes too – so twee, so girly, so overexposed. But… I think just the simplest of cupcakes ever might be where it’s at – a perfect rosette and a colourful liner, or a modest swirl and minimal decoration.

pink furry cupcakes with raspberries - coco cake land

Sarah from Buddy and Bear sent me a bunch of the cutest kids plates and egg cups – look at that little smiling bear buddy above! I think Sarah and I share a love of the same aesthetic – I’ll call it “kawaii minimalist”… hehe! Teddy’s been enjoying his hard boiled eggs poking out of his bear egg cup. Um, we’ve also done “milk shots” using them… ^__^

super cute ice cream sundae - coco cake land

Sundae, bloody sundae! Everything tastes better in cute little containers – this I believe! I am going to be sad when my stockpile of Poppytalk for Target ice cream cups are finally gone. But, my new anti-hoarder mentality says – enjoy and use it up, or give it away!

bakedown cakery chocolate gems

More amazing mail – my new pal from Australia, Jen of Bakedown Cakery, sent me a big old box of treats in the mail! It turned up just as I was a few days post-chemo, lying in bed feeling super gross. I opened up the box to find a whole bunch of chocolate (I’ve never had Tim Tams before!! Life changer!) and these handmade chocolate gems she made from her chocolate shop. Cute enough for ya!??

oreo ice cream sandwich eyes!

I posted this photo on my Instagram the other day. Number one: I was craving an Oreo ice cream sandwich, haha. Number two: my 6 month cancer diagnosis “anniversary” was coming up and I felt the need to share the story of how I found my tumour. It was so innocuous and possibly-nothing that I could’ve left it unchecked. But I didn’t. And they found cancer. So as I noted on my post – COP A FEEL! Give yourself a breast exam and don’t ignore anything that feels a bit weird. The Oreo ice cream sammies kind of look like creepy Owl eyes or burnt boobs. Oops. But still, I hope I got my point across.

pink rosette cupcakes - coco cake land

Cupcake diamonds! I can’t get enough of cupcake diamonds! The pretty pink rosette cupcakes I made for my niece’s 6th birthday.

lighthouse park - west vancouver bc

My sweet boo. A sunny day at Lighthouse Park a few weeks ago.

lighthouse park - west vancouver bc

Turban in the wild! I must admit I am getting pretty tired of having no hair. My patience is wearing thin but there’s nothing I can do about it… except scrutinize my hair every day in the mirror to check on its growth! Right now I’m feeling a little like Ripley in Alien (although not even quite there yet!)… I keep looking back at older pictures of myself (like 5 months ago pictures!) and being jealous of my own long hair. Sad!! I have a wicked long break before my radiation starts closer to the end of August! So I am a happy chappy about this. I plan on maxing out summer, plus Teddy’s 3rd birthday is coming up in August so I may go loose cannon wild on it.

dinosaur video at science world

And Teddy getting up close and personal with a large scale video of dinosaurs – that T-rex burst into the frame. I would’ve crapped my pants but Teddy stood and stared… Feeling blessed and beyond happy I am finished with chemo. FOREVER FOREVER I hope! I feel like my life’s been handed back to me – I can plan trips and fun thing without worrying about feeling like a chemically poisoned dead fish… Hooray! Here’s to the rest of summer. Hoping you all are enjoying it so far! xo Lyndsay