Stomach Cancer Awareness Day – Nov 30th

Today I had the opportunity to attend the first annual and first in Canada to focus on Stomach Cancer conference.  It was organized by “My Gut Feeling” which the first not for profit organization in Canada dedicated solely to stomach cancer.   Similar to “No Stomach for Cancer“, it was founded by two stomach cancer survivors who realized that there wasn’t much information out there on stomach cancer nor a place to network or with patients, survivors, or caregivers.   It was founded in 2016; however, I stumbled upon their web page earlier this year.

I am part of many groups on facebook that provide support to those who have had partial or total gastrectomies or the CDH1 gene mutation.  Many people ask questions and they are from all over the world.   The great thing about My Gut Feeling is that they can help Canadians navigate the health care system and offer support as well as spreading awareness and advocating for Gastric Cancer in Canada.

I learned many things today and heard many personal stories. The thing about attending these conferences is that they always pull on your heart strings.  You hear personal stories from survivors, caregivers, or patients and it reminds you of where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.  You hear talks from medical professionals who push to advocate for stomach cancer research where there is very little funding.  You meet others who have been through similar situations and you realize that you aren’t alone.  Oh, and you usually get a lot of breaks with food because you know a chunk of people in there don’t have a stomach.

There are many more wonderful things that I could share about this conference as it was so fantastic; however, I wanted make a quick blog post before bed and it is about an event I learned about which is occurring this Thursday in Canada.

My Gut Feeling has organized a Stomach Cancer Awareness Day on November 30th.  In honour of this day the CN Tower in Toronto will be lit up periwinkle blue.  So will the city hall towers and the Toronto sign.  Not only that, the city halls and landmarks in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal, and Halifax will light up as well.

If you are near any of these landmarks, I ask that you snap a photo of yourself near it with #MGF365 to help raise awareness about stomach cancer.





Officially stomach cancer free!!


Today I had my follow up with my surgeon and her team.  It was another trip to the big city.  I’ve had so many trips now I’ve now lost count.

My mom and I took the train in again.  Unfortunately, we missed the first train but I quickly learned that it’s too soon to run.   I must have made it about 20 meters and my ‘run’ was probably closer to a slow slow jog.  I have got a long way to go before I’m speeding around the baseball diamond again.

Once we arrived in Toronto, we picked up some lunch at a nearby shopping centre. Our lunch consisted of beef, white rice, and honey garlic chicken.  Did you know that for $9.50 you can feed two stomach-less people for not once but twice in a day AND have food still left over?  Awesome. I wish I took a picture of our meal.  We both had a good laugh about it.

Okay, so lets now get to the meat and potatoes of it all.  I met up with the medical student at 3:00pm.  I let her know about my swallowing concerns as well as other activity related questions.  She took a look at my incision and felt my abdomen.  She also listened to my abdomen with the stethoscope.  I also was very curious to learn about the operative and pathology report.

After I asked all my questions, she left to discuss it with my surgeon.  After about 30 minutes she returned with all the answers.

Bad news first:

No lifting for another 4 weeks – You’d be surprised about how much you lift during your daily activities (i.e. grocery bag, laundry basket, garbage bags, etc)
Don’t go back to the gym yet – Bummer!
Don’t start physiotherapy
You can swim but only floating allowed

I know my core is weak but I had been hoping that my lifting restrictions would be removed today and I could start to build strength in my core.  But I was warned that if I lift, I could create hernia(s) which would result in more surgeries down the road.  My abdominal wall is still healing.  I don’t want another abdominal surgery.  I have to keep reminding myself that I had a major surgery and not to push it.

I also have to get an upper GI x-ray and follow up with the team in two weeks to see if I have an esophageal stricture.  Apparently if you have a stricture at the esophageal-jejunum junction it may feel like food is stuck where I was reporting it (above the sternum) because you don’t feel lower down.  Who knew.  So this means two more trips to Toronto over the next two weeks. But now the good news…


The lymph nodes were clear. When mom and I heard this news there were high fives and big smiles all around. I’m still on cloud 9.

On the preliminary report (only part of my stomach analyzed) I had not one, not two, but 11 spots of cancer in my stomach. The exact wording was “Preliminary examination shows multiple mucosal signet ring carcinoma, at least 11 foci are present”.  I’m assuming there may be more because they aren’t done analyzing it but at this point, it doesn’t make a difference. I will post the final numbers when I receive them.

After my appointment, we dropped by to visit my genetic counselor who already knew this news. We all celebrated and high fived. She has saved another life. She told me that she was surprised I had so many tumors and that I had the 2nd most number of tumors she has seen to date.

Oh and I also ran into my pain management doctor as I was leaving the hospital. It was a glorious day!

So maybe I have food troubles now, maybe I continue to lose a little weight here and there. This is all chump change now knowing that I really did dodge a bullet and I am now stomach cancer free.

Now it’s lottery ticket time.