Winter Solstice 2007: Longest Night on a journey through cancer for Brandy Lien-Worrall

The Days have been getting shorter… and I have been amazed how dark it is at 4pm.

But now Solstice has arrived, and the days will get longer and the nights shorter again.

Each solstice I usually go down to
the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens with my girlfriend – but girlfriend has
gone up to Vernon early this year.  I am on my own. The weather has been sleeting up in the North Vancouver heights.  Lots of snow up in the local North Shore mountains for skiing. 

This is the time that many cultural traditions in the Northern hemisphere recognize the transition from darkness to light; from the longest night to a six month journey to the longest day.

Today I visited the home of a friend who currently is fighting breast cancer.  I was reminded of  a very dark time in my own life and my first post-cancer Christmas after finishing my last chemotherapy in November.  It was a 5 month long battle that had begun when I was diagnosed with cancer on Summer Solstice Day in 1989.

Brandy Lien-Worrall is a mother of two, and an incredible writer/editor, besides being a feisty individual.  I have gotten to know her as the leader for writing workshop organized by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, which subsequently produced the anthology Eating Stories: A Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck.

For the book, Brandy and I discussed selecting pictures for me to write descriptions about.  One of the pictures I showed her was when I was bald with cancer (it was subsequently included in the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.  I also had a catheter sticking out of my naked chest as I mugged for the camera.  The catheter was taped to the center of my chest and entered my just below my collar bone, then proceeded right into my heart.  We talked about this picture because her brother-in-law had been diagnosed with cancer.  Little did we know that four months later, Brandy herself would be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Brandy has talked about her battle with cancer on CBC Radio.  Because she has been blogging about her experience with cancer, they wanted to give the website address – but it contains the “F” word so Brandy created an overview  website that gives the links to all her blogs:

Brandy has actively blogged about her journey through cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment, cancer post-treatment, the highs and lows of being a cancer patient.  If blogs had been around in 1989, I probably would have blogged about my cancer treatment.  I have always regretted that I didn't have polaroid camera in my hospital room to take pictures of all the friends and family who visited me, and all the nurses who tended to me.  Instead I have blogged about my remembrances of my cancer treatments, as well as my volunteer work attending Terry Fox Runs. 

Writing about her struggle with cancer, Brandy has created a fascinating documentary about her life.  And when you also check in on her Poem of the Day for which she writes a new poem each and every day – you can see that this is not a person afraid of life, or afraid of cancer.  Brandy is one of those rare people who seems to fill every day with vitality…. even on a bad day.

The experience of having cancer teaches you many things.  It taught me to be more conscious of living.  It taught me to value the important things in my life.  It taught me to live as if each day could be my last.  Yes – they are all cliches… but sometimes beneath all the superficiality and artifice of commercial urbanity – this is truly all we really have.

Winter Solstice is like that.  Even in these times of long nights and short days, we know there are brighter days ahead.  But when you have cancer, sometimes you are just hoping for a day without pain, or that there is another day beyond today, and beyond tomorrow.  We take these days one at a time.  Do today what we cannot put off for tomorrow, and we put off what is not essential today.  We remember the good times of the summer, and we look forward to the light of more days to come..

The following are past photos and articles I wrote about Winter Solstice and my visits to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden.

on Mon 22 Dec 2003 11:58 PM PST
Winter Solstice – known in mandarin as Dong Zhi.
One of my favorite winter solstice adventures

on Tue 21 Dec 2004 01:01 PM PST
Winter Solstice .   It was very magical.  The Garden was lit with candles and Christmas

on Thu 22 Dec 2005 02:19 PM PST
Winter Solstice 2006 Dong Zhi at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens
We went down

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