Day One for Improving the Comfort of Cancer Patients

Folks, I’m thrilled to announce the launch of The Tory Day Fund, a charity to improve the comfort of cancer patients.

Actually, thrilled is a tough word to use. This fund exists only because of the heartbreaking loss of an extraordinary mother, friend, sister, daughter, aunt and my wife, Tory Butler. It’s been just three months since we lost her to breast cancer and typing these words still feels surreal.

Tory’s death could’ve gutted a close circle of family and friends, just as cancer does each day to countless others. I’ve talked to people whose lives have been impacted by similar loss, and they describe the days, months and sometimes years after as horrible. And no doubt, we’ve had horrible days.

But it hasn’t gutted us. We’ve celebrated Tory’s life, we’ve laughed at the ridiculous stories of her 50 years, and we’ve toasted the beautiful person we knew.

And in many ways it’s actually made us stronger. Tory’s family and friends have rallied to support our daughter Kate, her greatest legacy. And they’ve rallied to ensure her other legacy – the comfort Tory brought to those around her – endures.

The goal of The Tory Day Fund is to bring comfort – any comfort, really – to those undergoing cancer treatment. Despite the efforts of a world-class treatment facility like the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Hospital, Tory experienced firsthand just how rare comfort is when undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

What’s comfort in cancer care?

  • Comfort is having a bed available for you on the days you’re feeling weak and unable to sit in the usual chemo chair.
  • Comfort is having a buddy to teach you the tips and tricks of navigating a complex treatment centre.
  • Comfort is having a volunteer named Greg offer you mushroom soup every chemotherapy day.
  • Comfort is having a wig donated to you so you don’t lose your self when you lose your hair.
  • Comfort is having a week at a cottage donated so you can recharge with family and friends during a time you feel empty.

Comfort is a bunch of seemingly little things, but things that add up to something much bigger.

So today is day one for The Tory Day Fund, and we won’t stop until we’ve exceeded our fundraising goal of $50,000 to improve the comfort of cancer patients.

It’s a big, audacious goal for a bunch of friends and family of a girl from The ‘Shwa. But we are thrilled to make it happen.

Yeah, maybe thrilled isn’t such a tough word to use after all.

Who’s in?

Feelings of Comfort & Joy

IMG_20171222_121620The feeling of joy, I think, is one of the most incredible emotions we as human beings can feel. How do you describe it? I don’t know – it’s personal for everyone. For me it’s sitting around with friends and family, sharing stories, laughing my ass off and at that moment not having a care in the world. Or it’s getting lost in a song that takes me back to a sweet memory of when I was younger.

After Tory died I never expected to feel joy again. The weight of loss and the burden on Kate felt too big to carry … How could I ever feel carefree with so many worries about her future?

Sometime around when this picture was taken I started to feel it again. With Kate and her best friend Julia up at the lake it was just three of us. While I drank a beer and read on the deck, I heard the two of them by the dock, laughing and then singing with zero cares in the world … and it occurred to me they were feeling it – joy. And I learned that day that joy is contagious – I couldn’t help but feel it because it meant Kate was doing fine. Better than doing fine, really. She was thriving.

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Joy hadn’t returned fully for me, but from that day forward it started to pay regular visits. I found myself laughing more, allowing myself to relax and giving in to the moment. I started feeling … joyful. Not full of joy, but joyful.

And of course, when Joy comes in these circumstances her little brother Guilt tags along. “How dare you feel this way? Tory will never feel joy again”, he mutters. And he’s right, and completely wrong at the same time. She won’t feel joy, but I know for a fact – because of her family, friends and colleagues, and because of Kate – she felt it nearly every day of her life. And now that she’s gone, Kate and I have no choice but to regain the joy we had and live our lives in the best way we can.

As you’re reading this, Kate and I are celebrating Christmas with Tory’s family on a ski vacation. Tory always wanted us to go to Vail and we never did. So we’re doing what she can’t and we’re creating new memories together … and you can be sure I’ll feel joy once again with these brothers, sisters nieces and nephews of mine that I love so dearly.

And when we get back, we’ll experience more joy because we’ll see the beauty of The Tory Day Fund come to life.

We get to visit the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook and meet Bill, one of the “buddies” from the Patient Buddy Service we launched because of Tory and because of more than 200 donors to the fund this year.

We’ll see new chemotherapy patients visiting Odette for the first time and rather than wandering around the centre feeling unnecessary discomfort as they struggle to find their way, they’ll be greeted by volunteers like Bill who will see them to their first appointment, answer their questions, and provide whatever they need to feel more comfortable.

In the New Year we’ll see another part of Tory’s legacy come to life: the first chairs funded by The Tory Day Fund will be delivered to the chemotherapy suite. These chairs, like the one in the photo, are unlike any other at Odette – they’ll provide an easier way for patients to get seated, and provide them the ability to lay flat like a first-class airline seat.

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Our plan is to test a few of them, gather feedback from patients, and then order as many as we can afford with our fund, so more chemotherapy patients can be more comfortable during their treatment – like what Tory desperately wanted to do.

There’s a great definition of “joy” in Sheryl Sandberg’s brilliant book Option B, courtesy of Reverend Veronica Gaines:

“Peace is joy at rest, and joy is peace on its feet.”

While I’ve made gains to feel joy again … with Kate’s help, and with your help … I don’t feel peace just yet. Maybe that day will come, maybe it won’t. For now I feel a restlessness to see our commitment to Tory through and to ensure Kate continues on her path of post-traumatic growth.

That can wait, though. For now, Joy is knocking on the door this Christmas and it’s time to let her in. She’s probably thirsty. Cheers.

Merry Christmas and have a joyful New Year.

J.

Quick Update: Celebrate “Giving” Every Day

black-friday-shoppers1US Thanksgiving is one of my favourite days of the year. Mostly because working in a US-based organization means that there’s less email and fewer meetings for a couple days. And over the past couple years as Black Friday has crossed over the border into Canada, I’ve also appreciated saving a few bucks doing some early Christmas shopping.

What struck me this year though is there’s a series of days dedicated to buying – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday – and just one, Giving Tuesday, that celebrates charitable giving. Doesn’t that seem wrong?

I felt better though after reading this research from CHIMP, the organization that runs the charity platform for The Tory Day Fund:

71% of Canadians feel a personal responsibility to make the world a better place.

That’s a pretty encouraging number, especially when the rest of the world seems to be protecting its own interests.

I didn’t join the other charities with an appeal on Giving Tuesday – mostly because Team Tory already gave during our campaign that wrapped up in October. It’s now our turn to put your donations to work by giving comfort to cancer patients undergoing treatment.

And there’s great news to share already:

  • The Patient Buddy Service, the program we’ve funded at Sunnybrook, is now LIVE. Three days a week, a volunteer is on hand at the Odette Cancer Centre to greet new patients and make navigating their treatment easier. Service will be expanded with more volunteers, and Sunnybrook will adjust the service as the pilot program continues.
  • We had a great discussion with Sunnybrook about purchasing beds for their chemo suites, which was the original goal of The Tory Day Fund. One of the biggest obstacles to make it happen is the size of the beds would mean they’d have to reduce the number of treatments available – not good. But they mentioned a type of chair that’s like a first class airline seat, which can lay flat as the patient likes. That seems like the best option and we could have them delivered within a few months!
  • We have other potential programs to fund too, including one that enables patients who are dealing with financial hardship during their treatment to tap into funds for transportation, meals, etc. It seems wrong for someone who’s fighting for their life to have to struggle to pay for lunch too. And there’s another potential program, which would see patients dropped off curbside at the cancer centre and get assistance into the centre – preventing a high number of falls that occur, especially during the winter.

I love how much of an impact we’re able to make, and how soon we’re able to make it! It also gets me thinking already about next year’s campaign, since these programs we’re launching won’t stop. If you’re looking to continue donating to The Tory Day Fund, we make it easy to make a one-time donation or sign up for monthly payments – even $10/month makes a difference!

However much you give this holiday season, thank you for doing it. And for those of you who haven’t yet started your shopping, this Christmas countdown clock was donated to Kate and me by White Wood Studios – just 21 days to go!

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Have a great week!

J.

So How Did We Do?

I usually say we launched The Tory Day Fund on June 8, just a bit more than three months after we said good-bye to Tory.

It’s not exactly true, though. The spirit of the campaign originated on February 9 with a sweet, simple text between friends. Always hopeful, Tory and her girlfriend Deb were conspiring about their plans to drink wine and do other girl stuff when Tory got back on her feet. Tory already had bigger plans:

“I’ll fundraise for chemo beds.”

She knew firsthand how much comfort one piece of hospital furniture brought her, and wondered why a bed was a luxury rather than standard equipment for her and other cancer patients. The chairs in which she sat for more than twenty chemotherapy treatments were fine, but the bed gave her a chance to rest peacefully, to sleep, and just be more … comfortable.

After she died a few of us met with the Sunnybrook Foundation to see how we could fulfill Tory’s wishes, and we had a modest goal: raise enough money to buy one bed for the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook. (And I had no idea how expensive these things are: at least $30,000!)

So how did we do?

Team Tory, we raised $68,256.64!

We more than doubled our original goal, and far exceeded our stretch goal of $50,000. In just four months.

IMG_20110729_181426So where will the funds go? Well, it turns out that it’s not as easy as simply buying more beds for the centre. They take up double the real estate that chairs do, which means half the number of patients can be treated – not a good thing for a treatment centre. So that has turned into a longer-term goal, when the centre can accommodate more space.

In the short term, you already know about the “buddy program” that will see a team of volunteers greet new chemotherapy patients at Odette before their first treatment and make their first day less dizzying. That program launches on November 6 and is entirely funded by The Tory Day Fund.

I’ve spoken with a number of people in the fundraising community and most are blown away by the success of our campaign in such a short amount of time. That we were able to raise so much money AND initiate a new program in the span of just a few months is astounding.

We’re also investigating other initiatives, like making more high-quality wigs available (each one costs at least $2,000!), and plan to see if we can bring the “buddy program” to other cancer centres.

So as much as we’ve accomplished, there’s still lots of work to do to bring Tory’s plans to life. This year’s campaign has ended, but the hard work is just starting. And planning for next year’s campaign is already underway. For as long as cancer continues to steal dignity and comfort from our loved ones, how can we stop trying to help?

THANK YOU!

J.

P.S. While the campaign is over for this year, our fundraising never stops. One way you can contribute is by making a monthly donation – for as little as $10 per month, you’ll enable us to hit our fundraising goal every year. Just go here and see the “Repeat this gift?” option.

Giving Thanks, And Zero F*cks

Here’s another in our “year of firsts” this weekend: our first Thanksgiving without Tory. It also usually lines up with our wedding anniversary – we got married on Thanksgiving weekend 15 years ago – but this year our anniversary falls almost a week after.

And if you wondered why the heck Kate and I would celebrate Thanksgiving after the year we’ve had, you wouldn’t be crazy – what is there to be thankful for when you lose your mom and wife?

Well, it turns out, a lot.

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There’s a reason I think why fall is many people’s favourite season. In some ways it’s a time of nostalgia after the summer and a necessary break before the holidays and then the darkness of winter. For me it’s almost the anti-New Year’s – a time when you don’t look forward at the year ahead; instead you pause and reflect on the times behind you.

If I were to count my blessings this year I’d trail off to sleep before I finished. I’d need many more fingers and toes. I’d need an abacus (I’d also need instructions on how to use an abacus). The point is there are too many to count.

So let me instead focus on the things that have had the biggest impact this year, and why I’m most thankful:

  • Love: I can tell you with absolute confidence that without having #teamtory behind me (and in many cases in front and at my side), this year would be way darker than it has been. In fact most days I see no darkness, only light. I’m constantly amazed at how well Kate and I are doing but I shouldn’t be – we have the positive energy of every one of you powering us. If you’re reading this, you’re part of that energy.
  • The kindness of strangers: It’s easy to focus, especially now, on the negativity in the world. Even the jerk that cut me off on the way to Costco. People seem so centred on themselves. Give me a call the next time you think society’s going to hell, though. I’ll tell you about the university student who stopped me outside after seeing my presentation about The Tory Day Fund to donate with the cash in her pocket. Or the woman who wrote out the last cheque in her purse for the fund. Or the volunteer who brought Tory her soup at every chemo appointment. All complete strangers, and all memories I’ll hold for a lifetime.
  • My DNA: I never forget that I’m one of the most privileged people on the planet, and the only thing that I did to earn most of that privilege is being born a white male in Canada. I did nothing other than win a genetic lottery. That alone has given me opportunities that elude 90% of people on earth. Yes, I got an education, worked hard, saved – but the vast majority of the planet never gets a chance to do even that. So even though I’ve lost this year, there are literally billions who would trade places with me in a heartbeat.
  • Life insurance: This might seem an odd pick and maybe a bit too personal but let me explain my love/hate relationship. The hate part is easy: you only collect it when the person you love dies. It’s a premium you pay and never, ever want the payout. When you receive it, you might be racked with guilt like I was. But then you find the love in it. The fact that it provides a cushion to ease short-term burdens. And most importantly, it provides an opportunity to ensure your loved one’s legacy can live on. That’s what Tory’s insurance did. When I committed to matching all donations to The Tory Day Fund it wasn’t with my money (Mom, you can relax now). It was with the gift Tory left. So in a way we’re playing with the house’s money. And when that happens, we all win.
  • The past and present: The old saying “I wish I knew then what I know now” has never been more true. I used to think about it when reflecting on high school and my early twenties when life and love didn’t go my way. My mom would always remind me not to sweat the small stuff, but the stuff never seemed small at the time. Well, friends, it was and it still is. We spend an incredible amount of our lives worrying about things that we should really give zero fucks about. Do yourself and the people around you a favour and worry less. You’ll have more time to enjoy the present.
  • The future: I also learned this year to never wish time away. I used to think daily about the life Tory and I would live later in life, plan it to the smallest detail, and count down the days until we could make it happen. A lot of good that did me, eh? So instead of making that mistake again, I live the cliché of taking things day by day. I literally have no plans after October 14 except a Christmas party, a trip over the holidays with family, and a theatre night in March. It’s perfect.

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Kate and I got an early start at Thanksgiving with the Butlers on Wednesday, and will get together with my family (and the dogs, cats, chicken, ducks, geese…) on Sunday. However you celebrate it (and whenever you do it – whether it be this weekend or in the US in November), please promise me you’ll stop, be thankful for everything T gave you, Kate and me, and then be thankful for whatever life has given you this year. You may need to dig a little deeper to find it, but trust me, it’s there and it’s beautiful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

J.

P.S. I’m also thankful for the hundreds of people who have donated to The Tory Day Fund or bought tickets to our fundraising event, The Night of Nonsense. The campaign ends that night and it’s just a week away. If you can, please consider donating or buying your ticket today.

The Most Important Things in Life Aren’t Things

I said a few words at Tory’s celebration of life that had deep meaning to me back in May, and even deeper meaning just a few months later as we wrap up the Summer of ‘17:


The most important things in life – they’re not things. They’re people, they’re experiences, they’re love.


I learned this from an early age, more out of necessity I guess than anything else. Growing up without much cash after my folks divorced when I was 6, things were in short supply. Unless you count my sister’s Raggedy Ann doll that I shot between the eyes with a water gun every chance I could with sniper-like precision.


We didn’t vacation, except the odd weekend in a pop-up trailer. There were no extravagant birthday parties, or sleep-away camps. I really can’t remember any birthday or Christmas gift from my childhood.


But I do remember the experiences. Playing hide ‘n’ seek until the late summer hours, swimming in the creek near Embro trying to catch crayfish, going on endless bike trips with no destination in mind (and no helmet!) and being treated to a birthday dinner at Mother’s Pizza.


What’s that saying, We don’t remember the words that are said, but we remember the way they make us feel? That’s kinda the way I feel about experiences, too.


Tory and I prioritized experiences as much as we could, especially with Kate. Sure Tory, her girlfriends and sister-in-law made sure Kate’s closet was fully stocked, and she had an American Girl doll for nearly every day of the week. But we always wanted to make sure she knew the importance of experiences, and to appreciate every last second of time she spent with family, friends and with us.


I’d like to say I’ve kept that spirit alive in the past six month, but that wouldn’t be true. What is true is you’ve all done it for me.


Without an invitation to Siesta Key for March Break, Kate and I wouldn’t have experienced laughter as quickly as we did. Without a breakfast invitation, I wouldn’t have had the guts to start this blog. Without offers of tuna casserole dinners, Kate wouldn’t have enjoyed one of her favourite comfort foods when she needed comfort the most. Without an invitation to a 50th birthday party, I wouldn’t have had the chance to re-connect with some of my favourite people. And without a nudge to just say “ah, fucket” and buy the tickets, Kate and I wouldn’t be going to see Bruno Mars tonight.


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And yeah, it took a tragedy to make it all happen. That sucks. The lesson I’ve learned though is being resilient means accepting the things I can’t change (thanks, Mom), and making the best of it.


What I’m hoping is that when Kate looks back on the time after her mom died, it won’t be with the type of mourning most people experience after death – it’ll become just a thing in her life. Instead I’m hoping she remembers the experiences with her mom that made her the luckiest girl alive. And the positive experiences we’ve all created for her since then, and the people that made that happen.


If the experiences of her next few years are anything like the past few months, the Story of Kate is just getting started and it’ll be a beautiful tale. Thanks for being my co-authors.


Have a great day.


J.


P.S. One of the next big experiences I’m looking forward to is Saturday, October 14, for The Tory Day Fund Night of Nonsense. If you haven’t bought it yet, get your tickets today.

3 Random & Inspiring Acts of Charity

It’s been a rough week, no? With tragedies in Virginia, Barcelona, Burkina Faso and others it’s hard not to think we’ve all woken up in 1939 or 1965 – hell, even 1865.

Luckily for me it was also one of the most inspiring weeks I’ve had in a long time. Let me tell you why…

On Monday I heard about an initiative that someone whom I’ve never even met before wants to launch to deliver comfort kits to cancer patients at Sunnybrook in support of The Tory Day Fund. Her name is Peggy and she’s calling them Buddy Bags, and the kits will be filled with items like lip balm and crossword puzzles to help make patients more comfortable during their treatment.

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This concept is something I considered early on but put off … and here’s a complete stranger showing me how it’s done. Love it. I spoke with Peggy and her original plan was to produce 10 – and she’s now had double the orders in just a few days.

Interested? Contact Peggy to order yours today. And if you’d prefer to purchase a regular cinch sac of your own, Peggy is donating the proceeds of those orders to The Tory Day Fund.

Next, I was introduced to a woman you might remember from the news a few years back who went through her own personal hell after her autistic son was taken from her home around Christmas. Anne’s resilience led her to start Special Needs Dream Works, a charity supporting the creation of family or group homes as well as respite programs for people with developmental disabilities. Hearing that story alone would be inspiring.

But after learning about The Tory Day Fund from a mutual friend, she wanted to do even more. Anne’s also an award-winning hotelier and is hosting the Women in Tourism & WITHorg logo.PNGHospitality Conference in Toronto in September – and she’s chosen The Tory Day Fund as one of the three charities that will share in the event’s profit. And I’ll be at the event promoting the fund to the A-list execs from the hospitality industry.

You want more? OK, there’s more – I did promise you three inspiring acts, didn’t I.

I was already on cloud nine this week when on Thursday I got a text from my sister-in-law Angela that simply said “Kleenex alert!” And I’ve been conditioned to know what’s coming because of this story.

Here’s what the next text said, along with a picture of Tessa, my niece:

“I want to donate my hair to help all the little sick kids that were sick like my Aunt Tory. I think about her every day and how I can help people like her and donating my hair was one of my ideas.”

IMG_7983.jpgThat girl is even more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside. I’ll likely crack her ribs with the hug she’ll get tonight.

I knew the idea of improving the comfort of cancer patients was compelling when we launched The Tory Day Fund, and I looked forward to the day when it got beyond the grassroots level. I just didn’t expect it to happen just two months after we launched.

Thanks to Peggy, to Anne, to Tessa and all of you for the inspiration.

Have a great weekend.

J.

From One Cottage Dream to Another

Almost six years ago and after many years of mooching cottage weekends from friends and family, Tory and I decided to buy our little corner of paradise. We bought a small place on a quiet bay in Haliburton from the original owners who started vacationing on it in 1963 and who built the cottage by hand in 1983. Finally becoming cottage-owners was a dream come true. Kate even invested $50 of her own money for the down payment.

The previous owners left us a beautiful, heartfelt letter explaining the history of the place and how they grew it from being a rustic trailer site by adding a small bunkie they used for playing cards, and finally adding the main cabin. The wife also mentioned how her dad spent countless hours fishing, but never caught “the big one”.

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Since then we’ve visited what we now call Willow Woods (no offense, Jack – we’ll find something to name after you too. Maybe the sofa you sleep 23 hours a day on) nearly every weekend from spring to fall, and regularly throughout the winter.

Not long after we bought I learned of an organization called Cottage Dreams, which matches cottage owners with cancer patients recovering from treatment. The cottages are donated and made available for patients to reconnect with family and rejuvenate for a week.

I loved the idea. For me cottage = comfort. It’s impossible to not feel comforted sitting on the end of the dock and hearing the water splash against the rocks. Or not hearing anything at all. If there’s a heaven I hope it looks a lot like this:

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And as many good ideas do, this one sat tucked away in a drawer until the right moment. Or I guess the wrong moment in my case. When Tory died I searched for ways for Kate and me to give back to the growing community of cancer patients and survivors. I remembered the card I picked up those years ago, and after completing the application, writing a description of the cottage and sending in a few pics, our first guests were booked within a couple hours.

They arrive this Sunday, a female cancer survivor and another five adults.

Why did it take such a short time for the cottage to be booked? Believe me it’s not because it’s anything special (well I think it’s special…). It’s just 850 sq. ft. – the municipality won’t even let you build a cottage that size anymore. There just aren’t enough cottages available in the program, and my bet is it’s because not enough people know about Cottage Dreams or programs like it.

Hopefully that changes soon. Can you help them out and share this post with your friends and family? And if you’re interested in the program – either because you have a cottage or maybe you know someone who could benefit from it – let me know.

We’ve never rented Willow Woods, so there’s six years of stuff to clean up – it’ll be a busy Saturday. Kate and I will do what we can to make our guests feel welcome before we hand over the keys. That way they can spend more time sitting on the dock and finding “the big one” lurking in the bay.

Hope they find comfort, too.

Have a great weekend.

J.

P.S. As of this Monday we’re just two months out from The Tory Day Fund Night of Nonsense, our fundraising event. It’ll cap what I expect to be a successful fundraising campaign and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night than with you all. Have you bought your ticket yet?

Just Don’t Call it a Bucket List

  • Jason Fiorotto
  • Living
  • Jul 28, 2017

Some of you know I’ve been trying to make the last five months – crazy that it’s been that long already – as positive as possible for Kate. Call it our Making the Best of Tragedy Tour. We’ve surrounded ourselves with friends, family and frankly anyone who’s asked us. We’ve traveled, shopped, danced (poorly), watched hoops, sang (mostly me, and way off-key), and just relaxed when we wanted to. And for the most part I’ve been the ringleader to make it happen.

But earlier this summer she asked if we could do something that blew me away….

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Yep, she wanted to hang 1,200 feet in the air off the side of the CN Tower from a two-inch cable.

The thing you learn quickly about Kate is she can be quiet, sometimes even shy. She’s no daredevil, even this past weekend she declined to try the cottage rope swing. I’m not exactly sure why she wanted to do the EdgeWalk, but she did. And who the hell am I to say no – especially after what she’s been through.

So this past Wednesday we did it, just before heading to the Jays game where they beat the A’s with a walk-off HR in the 9th. (We left in the bottom of the 8th – I used to hate those fans who left early. Now I am one.)

Incredible. I’ll remember for the rest of my life the confidence Kate showed cruising around the platform like she lived there, dangling into thin air, looking down at the planes taking off from the island airport.

Speaking of the rest of my life (smooth segue, eh?) … We always went as a family to the Cottage Life Show and there’s one vendor who always had a sign that’d make us laugh:

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We’d giggle like schoolgirls (at least Kate has an excuse). But I always found a deeper meaning to it too. Mostly because I despise the idea of a bucket list.

I’m all for having those things in life that you aspire to do, have or be. That’s part of what makes life fun and fulfilling. But here’s the thing: Your reward for checking off all the items in your bucket list? Kicking the bucket. Dying.

I much prefer a fucket list. Those can be the things from your bucket list, but they also include the things you don’t plan for and shouldn’t pass up. A buddy asks you to grab a beer at the last minute. Someone wants you to go on an unexpected vacation. Your daughter asks you to go for a walk outside the top of perfectly good building. Those are the things worth living for. “Ah, fucket.”

What’s that saying – the only things you regret are the things you say no to?

Back to the EdgeWalk for a second. Kate and I were talking on the way home how the anxiety of it was way worse than actually doing it. Walking out of the tower onto the platform, staring at the clouds was almost comforting. It was a really odd feeling.

Then Kate told me why, and it made all the sense in the world.

“I guess it’s because we were closer to Mom.”

Man, she’s brave beyond her grief and wise beyond her years. How did I get so lucky? #thankstory

Have a great weekend.

J.

You know what’s at the top of my list? Raising $50K to fund programs that improve the comfort of cancer patients. I appreciate every dollar of every donation that’s been made to The Tory Day Fund – you’re making a real difference by donating. Thanks to all of you.

 

Whoa, This Just Got Real – Can You Help?

I have some incredible news to share about The Tory Day Fund!

Sunnybrook has confirmed that they will be launching a “buddy” program for cancer patients this year! And our discussions with them about The Tory Day Fund have been the catalyst to make it happen.

Remember when we launched the fund just six weeks ago with a focus on improving the comfort of cancer patients, and told you about this example from Tory’s experience to highlight how a “buddy” program could have a big impact?

The first treatment day for most chemotherapy patients is dizzying. Despite the efforts of treatment centres like the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook to make the experience run smoothly, there are countless tips and tricks that are only learned with experience. A “buddy” program that matches cancer patients entering treatment with a former patient or caregiver would provide more comfort on this critical day.

Throw me to the wolvesWith almost 25,000 chemotherapy treatments administered per year (stop and let that number sink in for a minute), the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook recognizes the need to make patients’ first experience less stressful – more comforting even. The early plans for the program include:

  • 2-4 volunteers welcoming patients and their families to the centre
  • Measures to improve patient comfort during and after their visit — for example, better quality wigs

Here’s the thing, though: Sunnybrook cannot launch this program unless we meet our fundraising goal of $50,000. I need your help to make it happen. If you were ever planning to contribute, now is the time — here’s how:

Sunnybrook logoSome of you might still be hesitant to donate … Maybe you don’t live in the Toronto area and want to donate closer to home. Maybe you didn’t know Tory well and you want your donation to be more personal. Maybe you’re just leery of charities in general. I get it.

Donations to charities are decreasing and that’s making life very difficult for even large non-profits like the Canadian Cancer Society. Personally I think some of that is self-inflicted: donors are tired of not seeing the direct impact of their donation, and they’re tired of seeing dollars wasted on administration and high-cost mailings. Here’s why The Tory Day Fund is different:

  • Your donation will directly fund the “buddy” program at Sunnybrook – you will know your dollars made a difference
  • We’ll ensure the funds are used to improve patient comfort by relying on volunteers as much as possible, and minimizing overhead costs

IMG_20151013_215042 (2)If I still haven’t convinced you to donate, let me give it another shot – and I’ll admit this one is pretty personal. Here’s why I’m desperate for this program to launch, and it’s not just because it’s sorely needed.

It’s our chance to provide a powerful legacy for Tory’s family, her friends, and her colleagues… and for anyone who’s lost a loved one to cancer. This our chance to turn an absolute tragedy into something beautiful, offering a program that will make the lives of thousands of cancer patients more comfortable – even just for a day:

  • Donate for Tory, who despite living life to the fullest was robbed of almost half hers.
  • Donate for Tory’s mom Linda, who fought and lost the same battle more than 20 years ago.
  • Donate for Hal and Matt and Peter and their families, who lost their ringleader.
  • Donate for Tory’s girlfriends, a legendary group of women who lost their top troublemaker.
  • Donate for Kate, who lost the best mom she could ever dream of having.
  • Donate for your loved one, so their legacy lives on.

We have just 86 days left in The Tory Day Fund campaign and need exactly $33,141 to make the buddy program at Sunnybrook a reality. Thank you for your support!

Have a great day.

J.

P.S. Please help us get the word out by sharing, liking … anything to amplify our message. Thanks!