Friday, December 18, 2015

Toronto today

Many times over the years I have encountered that difficult catch-phrase "go outside your comfort zone!" --as if I don't do that regularly!?  If you think about it, everything is outside our comfort zone.  If it is comfortable, we already do it, and we do not feel the need to draw attention to it.  

For years I have been challenged at Toronto driving.  I have lived in cities yes, and I am reasonably adept at driving vehicles other than my little Civic, but Toronto driving is a different animal.  In the late 90's I drove myself to meet friends at the ACC for an Alanis Morissette concert and then booted my car all the way back to Cambridge without taking a single breath, considering myself lucky to be ALIVE after a trip to the base of the CN TOWER!  
Since then I have basically considered my life complete in my small town of three traffic lights.  No need to go further... I have explored Florence ITALY without panic - for god sakes surely I can close the chapter on "needing to accomplish traffic-related ambition" outside my "comfort zone!"

But nnnoooooo..... today I took a casual meander down to the Queen West neighbourhood in Toronto for a day of artwork, public relations, open-mindedness, and melanoma speak.
I left early this morning, drove down to 401 East to Dufferin/Yorkdale and followed Scott's perfect directions to downtown TO, drove straight to the building I was invited to, turned around a time or two to get a parking spot in a Green P lot, walked back through a neighbouring schoolyard as primary students were going to their outdoor recess (remarkably they looked a lot like my own country kids!?), and got a maple latte to accompany me in this supercool space, my hangout for the day:
(photo cred: click here)

Warmly greeted by the public relations firm hosting the event, I settled in to the old school-building converted to not-for-profit artists' space humming with activity such as a day care centre, a delicious cafe, art installation space, and rental studios such as the one I was in, on the 2nd floor.  

We were here to discuss melanoma, in a way new to me.  

There was a film-camera crew - a make-up artist even! - and a sound guy (who looks remarkably like a young Anthony Bourdain), A Director, and some patients of the little-known disease melanoma.  The patients were the stars of the day, and they were treated as such.  Oh wait.. I keep trying to forget, I am one of those melanoma people... shit.. 

One-on-one interviews were filmed and then a mixer of patients and artwork (it's all top-secret until launch in the new year) - all "Action!" and "Cut!" style until a yummy catered lunch.  Okay well there weren't really "action"s and "cut"s but there was a real little black and white striped clappy thingy snap in front of every take.  It was supercool.  Very interesting.  

Fast-forward to the highlight of my day:  meeting some fantastic people.  Not only were the PR people empathetic, knowledgeable, and truly interested in the project, the accompanying melanoma patients/victims/survivors were supremely awesome.   

I have mentioned before my struggle to meet people in the same boat as I am, melanoma-wise.  Well today I found myself in the company of some lovely folks who speak the same language as I do:  BRAF NRAS ipilimumab MEC excision node biopsy metastatic devastation gene mutation resection margins mass oh my! No need to clarify, we were on level plains.  
Film or no film, I have made some new friends, and even if we are not able to keep in touch I gained a feeling of power today that they may never know they contributed to, but that I will always be grateful for. 

I value their experience and their knowledge beyond words, and I am inspired by the fact that they were all standing with me in the same place, after being through worse battles than mine (really, I was the baby of the group, not in age but in melanoma incident... I have had five surgeries... these folks ran circles around me).  The most important thing:  they are still here.  They were in Toronto today as well, hoping to help others by spreading the word about sun-safety and non-complacency in skin CANCER.  

They were serious about their desire to help others fall short of the fate we have encountered, they are passionate about keeping people out of the sun in order to avoid the risk of developing melanoma. Melanoma. It is not JUST skin cancer.  It IS skin cancer.  

I will be sure to post news of the campaign launch as it comes available.  In the meantime I will email my new acquaintances (we all exchanged business cards) and lend support where I can.  Judging by how well we all hit it off I can envision us having a "cast party!?" when this launches LOL  I would even drive back down Dufferin to do that.  :-) 

Toronto traffic and camera-shyness aside, I feel today was a powerful day.  I received support and hope at the same time, plus I was able to explore the side of myself that I enjoy when I travel to new places.  
In fact in one of the alleys I traversed this morning I recalled Firenze as if it was yesterday. The light and air and temperature seemed the same in the Toronto alley I walked today, as it was in Florence eight years since this photo:

On the way home I casually noticed one pedestrian that I almost ran over didn't even flip me the bird!  Sure sign of my comfort in the Toronto traffic - after all these trips to Sunnybrook and other attractions I must be doing something right! 

Oh PS ~  All day when commenting on our unseasonably mild weather and asked if we have snow in Meaford I replied that "no we don't, as I requested we not get any snow until I was home tonight after this Toronto event." and we laughed... haha...  Seriously, the second I pulled into my driveway it began to snow.  My car is now covered and I am going to go to bed wishing for six feet in the morning.  I am done my work for a couple of weeks and I think we are due a white Christmas!  

PPS ~ Thank you Save Your Skin Foundation for connecting me with this great day 

Another edit add-on to this post: I appreciated the warm-up conversation the film crew afforded my nerves.  When I told them I am from Meaford one of them said hey isn't there that cool restaurant up there in the middle of nowhere?  Teds Road something... I said Yes! Ted's Range Road Diner LOL  It's in a quonset hut style building and he serves amazing food.  So we talked about game meat and my history up north of salivating at every "Bear BBQ" in Barkway etc.  Anthony Bourdain Jr. said he did the sound for a film piece a few years ago at Ted's..? COOL!  So I just googled it and found this, perhaps it is the one?  Enjoy  :-) 



  1. off topic: This may interest you for writing classes: