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You never know what you have until you’re on the verge of losing it…

I wrote this blog entry two weeks ago…after I walked through the doors of the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic. I’ve struggled a bit with posting it. But as a financial advisor, I have an obligation to tell you how I can help you.

Sitting today in another training session talking about what we as financial advisors provide for our clients has me convinced that I need to share this with all of you. In life, you have to play offense and you MUST play defense. It’s a balance to protect your financial health and wealth. As a financial advisor, I’ve been providing clients with these types of solutions for years. I can help you protect your financial health and wealth. Your financial advisor, if it’s not me, should be doing the same thing.

Fate must have sent me on the path of providing peace of mind to people during difficult times; what I do has certainly provided peace of mind to me during this new struggle to regain my health. I bought critical illness coverage. Are you covered?

Here’s my story from two weeks ago:

Years ago when I started in the insurance business, I learned about some health insurance called critical illness. Never in my imagination did I think that I would be making a claim on those policies.

I’ve explained the importance of having this type of coverage to my clients every chance I get. “What would you do if you were diagnosed with cancer?” “How would you pay the bills?” What I often find is that some, not all, but some do not understand how delicate and precious something is until it’s taken away from you.

My health, temporarily I believe, has been taken away from me. And for the last two months I’ve been asking myself these questions above and I’ve been panicked. …And emotional. …And scared.

Today I walked through the doors of the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic with David and my mom. I never thought I’d ever be there. But this is my reality now. And for the next five years, I’ll be on regularly scheduled appointments, having radiation treatments and other necessary precautionary tests to ensure that this doesn’t come back. To hear today that I do not have to have chemotherapy was a blessing. It was a little bit of good news in the murk of all of this horrible information.

I’ve stated before that without David, and my family, and my friends, I don’t know how I could have gotten through all of this alone. And for the next five years, they will be right there with me. But the reality is, is that while I waited for my claim decision on my Critical Illness policies, I couldn’t help but be worried about my quality of life and how I would be able to handle possibly, not working.

Today I also picked up two cheques from SunLife Financial. Two policies that I will no longer pay premiums on. Two cheques that have given me the peace of mind and true comfort that we don’t have to worry about finances. I can focus on getting better without the financial worries of how the bills are going to be paid. I am truly grateful for placing a bit of money into these policies years ago that I really thought I’d never claim on…

How ironic it is that I have this peace of mind while I’m going through one of the hardest times in my life and facing an ‘about face’ to focus on me for a change and on my health. I am relieved and I have to be ready to face what lies before me.

I don’t care where you get it from but buy critical illness insurance. Buy it for you, your loved ones and place some trust in your financial advisors that they are offering you something very, VERY valuable. Your biggest asset is your health. There is nothing else in this world more important than you and your health. You have to protect it. I’m sure glad I did.

Because trust me, when your health is on the verge of being taken from you, you’ll need the resources to provide the focus you’ll need to get it back. The world truly stops spinning for some brief moments. But then, it just keeps on going…

These Critical Illness cheques are going to allow me to focus on what is most important – me and my health.

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Things can change…quickly

It has taken me a while to decide how I want to broach this subject. Only my closest family and friends know about the last four weeks. In order to make the best out of this situation and in particular, an event that I’ve entered, it’s time to let you know about my road ahead.

You see if I don’t tell you, Moose Jaw is a small town and the rumours and stories will start swirling if they haven’t already. So, here goes.

On August 16, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. On August 27, I had surgery to remove a lump and when I get the call from the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic in Regina, I’ll begin a treatment schedule. It all still feels a bit weird to me because I feel fine, the same as I always have. Other than recovering from my surgery, I don’t really feel any different.

What I do know though is how quickly my perspective on things has changed. Not so much in the thoughts that some things don’t matter anymore as that’s not the case at all. Things have just moved into different positions of priority. My family and friends have taken centre stage. For something that should always be at the forefront, it’s unfortunate that it’s taken this diagnosis to understand how important family and friends are. Thoughts such as how we don’t see each other enough; we don’t talk enough; and we don’t share successes and laughs enough. I have always had a favorite uncle, my dad’s youngest brother. I’ve spoken more to him in the last week than I have since I was a little girl who spent her entire summer months at the farm with him and my grandparents. Sharing the distresses and agony of defeat of our favorite baseball team through texts as they try and make it to the Wild Card has been a true gift to me. Also, after congratulating the success of a positive health result with and for another family member, I now have shared my setback with her and find the whole thing quite ironic in a way – I congratulate her on her good news; she consoles me on my news. Bottom line is, family will always be here to support me.

Life can change …quickly. And through the last four weeks, I couldn’t be more grateful for David’s support and love and …quick thinking and action. You see, I’m not one for hospitals and doctors and truthfully, if it wasn’t for him, I probably would have still kept my discovery of a lump to myself and maybe have been further down the road than I am now, and possibly with different results. Everyone keeps telling me how great it is that I “caught it early” but I have to admit that I still can’t quite believe it. I have breast cancer. And all I keep asking myself is, why me?

For the last 13 years, I’ve tried very hard to be ‘healthy’. Sure, I enjoy the occasional plate of wings and I love a cold beer here and there and some of you may know how great of a cook David is. I run and have ran for 13 years because my guilty pleasure is great food. Even through all of this, I guess I didn’t dodge the cancer bullet.

Saying that word still feels very awkward, if that’s even it. I’m either still in denial, or shock, or numb but…there it is.

Our friends have been wonderful. You know, people have come and gone in our lives, but the true cream of the crop rises to the top in situations like this. There are always the constants, but there’s also been huge moves on the part of new friends that right now, we couldn’t live without. You know the ones. The ones that feel like family; the ones you can just ease into conversations with, laugh with and cry with and it’s like you’ve known each other all your lives. I cannot thank our friends enough for the love, laughs, and support I’ve received over the last month. Without them, I don’t know where we would be.

For now, it’s ‘business’ as usual. Until I know what my treatment schedule is with the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic, nothing really changes and I hope it really doesn’t. But I know I need to be strong and prepared. How you can prepare for this news is, well, still…quite unreal. Am I a bit scared? You’re darn right I am.

This is my story to tell and I want to be able to tell it. On that note, I registered to run in the Run for the Cure on October 6 in Regina and when I told my friends, they decided they’d like to join me for the support but also to raise money for this cause. I’ve now taken my love of running and the love my friends and family have for me will surround us while we participate in this nationally recognized event. And we will have a lot of fun doing it as well! The team names we’ve tossed around sure provided a lot of laughs this past weekend.

I have to continue to laugh and find the fun in this. It may seem like an odd thing to say but if you can’t laugh and stay positive, I believe you don’t have much.

While I was getting ready to be put under on the operating table at the Union Hospital, one of the nurses wheeled a piece of equipment over to me that would help the surgeon through my surgery. She mentioned to me that “this equipment is one of the pieces your Moose Jawg has helped pay for”. How very real THAT was for me. This race director has now been touched by the dollars my entrants and sponsors to Moose Jawg have helped me raise. I honestly never thought that would happen.

So, I carry on and take each day one day at a time. As my doctor told me as he tried to prepare me for what’s ahead: “physically you will be fine, Dawn, but mentally, there’s no doubt it’s going to be a challenge”.

I’m ready; I have no other choice. It’s made me focus on the good things in my life and to enjoy each and every moment – from small moments to the big ones. It may also make me consider enjoying this life a bit more also. I keep thinking about a particular quote I read once: “No one worries in the end about how much time they didn’t spend in the office”. This girl needs to do the things she wants to do more often and that’s my message for you. As Warren Zevon said on David Letterman years ago, “enjoy every sandwich”.

I plan on doing just that…I will find the happiness and joy in every day and take things one day at a time. For right now, it’s the best way I know how to cope through this new development in my life…and I’ll have my family and friends beside me all the way through it.

I honestly couldn’t ask for anything more.