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An Angel for a surgeon? — suzanne-mcrae.com

An Angel for a surgeon?

A little over a week ago someone put a piece of paper in my hand that had the name of a breast cancer oncology surgeon, and she said to me, you might want to look her up. Her name, Dr. Angel Arnaout. I shared a video of her in my last blog post.

I made a few phone calls this week to see what might be possible as far as getting in to be seen by her. No questions were asked. I was told to get my family physician to fax in a referral. That was sent out Thursday evening. I knew that I would be getting a call the next day… and I did. 🙂

This coming Friday, exactly a month after the breast cancer diagnosis I am going to have the opportunity to meet her, she is one of Canada’s leading breast surgical oncologist.

I appreciate that she’d had over 3,000 patients in her care and she does over 250 breast cancer surgeries a year. The first surgeon I was referred to performs only 12 surgeries at most per year. This will no doubt make it an easier decision for me to make.

Dr. Arnaout is also doing special work with regards to invasive lobular breast cancer which is what I’m dealing with, and that also drew me to her right away.

“She’s a scientist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and the Women’s Breast Health Centre at The Ottawa Hospital. She was awarded the Ontario Ministry of Health Award for “Best Innovation in Cancer Care Delivery” for her contributions to enhanced patient care. She specializes in offering minimal invasive breast surgical techniques. She takes satisfaction in making her patients happy with the end result after surgery.

Other awesome things I loved when I read up about her…

Her mission is to help turn the Women’s Breast Health Centre into a leading institution in North America. She has visited some of the 30 top breast cancer centres around the world to see what works and doesn’t. She envisions the Ottawa centre as a one-stop shop where women will go for mammograms, their diagnosis, chemotherapy, surgery and followup.

We want all aspects of their journey to be in one spot. We want the operating rooms to be in there, too, which will be the first of its kind in the world.

Dr. Arnaout’s research is also committed to improving access and delivery of high quality care to breast cancer patients in Ontario. She is the leader of two specialty programs for breast cancer patients in Ottawa that fast track patients from diagnosis to treatment.”

I felt like I would be in very good hands before I even heard back if she would see me. I also very much love that her name is Angel. 🙂

Part of me wishes though this was just some sort of bad dream that I was having, and that I was about to wake up to everything being ok. Its not a bad dream. Its breast cancer. I recognize that I’m terrified deep down. I’m not ready to be nominated to win a bravery award any time soon. I haven’t gone within to explore this whole cancer thing yet, not at the level it needs to happen. The quicker I can go look at the fears, maybe even cry a little or a lot and get real with how it all feels, maybe even get angry, perhaps then the cancer treatment experience might be a bit easier for me. Burying my head in the sand and not looking deeper at all of this is probably not giving me what it could. That’s where the anxiety comes from I feel, from not fully being able to feel all of what I am going through and about to go through. There’s a layer of denial that exists there.

This past week, I escaped for 4 days to my sister’s cottage. I didn’t have any appointments, and was waiting for phone calls that weren’t coming in, so off I went. Looking at this now, it was my way to escape and not take the time to face my reality probably but I was good at convincing myself that downtime would do me good.

Wild Summer Blooms

Once again, I was no sooner at the cottage that calls came in, appointments needed to be booked, some for my health another for services for our son who has autism. We even received a nice surprise from our massage therapist saying that friends of ours had anonymously chosen to gift both my husband and I to each a massage. We are so deeply touched by this kind act. So whoever “you are” if you are reading this message and this is you who have gifted this to us… we both say THANK YOU!! This gift is very generous, deeply appreciated and will be very much enjoyed. 🙂

The days at the cottage felt different this time, not as relaxing in some ways and I know that’s probably because part of me knew that I wasn’t dealing with the real issues at hand that needed to be looked at. I wasn’t going to that place of silence. My son was there also, and he was being more testy than usual. Then for a day or two of that time he was feeling ill. So that made my time there more stressful. He’s feeling a lot of what’s happening in our lives. His way of coping is acting it out through behaviours. There’s nothing fun about that, never has been. I told my sister that God didn’t give me enough patience some days… to which she replied jokingly maybe it has an expiry date of 25 years. It felt good to laugh about it. Twenty five years is a long time to take care for someone daily, and as intense as its been in our case with the autism thing. Maybe this is where the bravery award comes in for me.


I still managed to take in some of the sights and sounds of nature, with the water, the trees and we also went hiking on a few trails one afternoon which turned out to be a nice outing.


The next day on Friday after coming back home from the cottage, my husband and I had a meeting with someone from an agency that is helping us get some urgent services lined up for our son before my treatment kicks into gear. The meeting lasted a few hours, and we answered a lot of questions and shared in details about our son so they can get a good picture of who he is, what his needs and interests are etc.

This was the meeting that we have dreaded for decades, since he was diagnosed in 1993. The decision that we have known for so long, one that we’d have to make one day for him. The day where we knew he would need more than we can give, where he no longer would be in our care or living with us. It had hung over our heads all these years and had us pretty much paralyzed in fear, unable to talk about it let alone take action. We just couldn’t go there. It took the cancer diagnosis to help us see what needs to happen.

Until a few years ago I felt that I would take care of our son until the day I died. After doing some inner work on that one, things shifted over time and I was able to come to a place where I knew that I no longer wanted to take care of him until the day I died. It wouldn’t be healthy for him or for me. I eventually realized that I wasn’t going to be a bad Mom if I chose to have someone else care for him. I’m ready, I want to be selfish just a little. I’ve been at this mother job full-time for over 27 years. It’s a role I took very seriously, probably way too much so. I now selfishly want a part of my life, this next phase to be for me and us as a couple. I know that I will always be a Mom. I just don’t want it to be so intense anymore. I have nothing left that’s of good quality to give. I have reached the end of that career I feel. I have felt it for a while but kept pushing myself to do it.

So that was the meeting we had on Friday, where we addressed the immediate urgent need to get services, transportation, respite, funding and day program etc. for him as well as a future group/residential home that will be a good match for him. The ball is rolling, the steps are being taken. We have no idea how much time any of this will take. But I fully trust that God is lining something awesome for him and for us with all of this. We got through the meeting, but not without a few tears. To say that I’m proud of us is an understatement.

The stars are lining up for us. There are lots of little miracles. Angels are everywhere, one came from a messenger delivering to me exactly the person’s name that I needed to go and see; the other this new surgeon called “Angel” that I get to meet with this week; and many other human angels that send me and our family beautiful messages, lovely cards, positive thoughts and prayers, some that offer to drive our son to some of his activities; cottage time anytime I want… and the list goes on. So many good things happening all around. And all of it is recognized and appreciated beyond words. This is not a time in our lives where we are able to do it all alone anymore.

This evening a little message came through for me… a Praying Mantis sitting there near the back door when I walked out. After researching this little creature as an animal totem/animal medicine, it made sense.

Praying Mantis

The Praying Mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. It shows up when there’s just so much going on that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us. The Mantis is about stillness and patience. She takes her time, and lives her life at her own silent pace. She never makes a move unless she’s 100% positive it is the right thing for her to do. A message for us to contemplate and be sure our minds and souls all agree together about the choices we are making in our lives. The Praying Mantis teaches us how to still the outer mind and go within ourselves.

I was grateful for the message she brought for me. I absolutely need the peace, quiet and calm in my life now. But I am finding it challenging with all that needs to get done and worked on everyday. It doesn’t help that I’ve always been a do-er and put everyone else first. Being still doesn’t come naturally for me, and neither does putting myself first. I recognize that I need to get down to some serious practicing. I will be inviting in this animal medicine, the Praying Mantis to help me get still. I also see how she will be able to help me get 100% clear about the decisions I need to make with regards to my cancer treatment… and not just that but to get clear about what it is that I want for this next phase of my life. It’s time to be still and contemplate all of this.

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  1. I was just thinking about you today, wondering how you were and then, bam, the email comes signaling your new blog post. Keeping you in my prayers. May Dr. Angel be all that you need and may stillness become your best friend. Lots and lots love to you! ♥
    Maryse recently posted..Human CompassMy Profile

  2. Allie Nardella says:

    I am thinking of you Suzanne. So good you have found Dr. Angel. May you have ease and grace. I am sending you peace and healing prayers. Keep taking care of you. Blessings.

  3. All that you are doing is self care, even noticing that praying mantis. You have so much wisdom within your heart. Thank you for letting us know what you’re doing and thinking. xoxo
    Naomi recently posted..Are you fighting your true nature?My Profile

  4. Thank you Suzanne for your new updates and blog. You pop into my thought waves often and each time that you do I send loving and caring energy to you and your family. Recently a post from Deborah King popped into my sight. Im not sure whether you are familiar with her. Her breast cancer was healed many years ago through energy healing with no sign of it re-visiting her. If you feel drawn to this then maybe have a read of her journey, take on board what feels right or ok within you and discharge the rest.

    A big congratulations to you for recognising your denial and that their are many hidden fears within that in the right time you will connect with. Maybe it is time to take the self-imposed pressure off your shoulders in feeling like you need to be strong and ‘on top’ of this journey and your feelings. It is ok to be angry, upset, confused, feel sorry for your self etc, it is ok to flow with and feel your emotions as they come and go. No matter how you react or what you feel, you already are brave and courageous, this award is already yours, you do not have to ‘earn’ it. Your family and friends recognised this a long time ago and now all you need to do is graciously accept it. The changes that come and your journey ahead will not diminish this. Loving wishings to you and your family.

  5. Sandy King says:

    So honest and heartfelt Suzanne . I’m enjoying hearing about the ‘signs’ that are showing up in your life and helping to guide your path . Trust . Surrender . These are words rolling around in my head . And may I add that you have a beautiful gift for writing . I hope you continue.

  6. Trust that everything will fall into place, Suzanne. Everything. Know that your son will find placement in a group home where he will thrive, that you will find the peace you need to heal. And know with all your heart that you are doing the right thing. xoxo

  7. Thank you everyone. xo

  8. Annette Bourdeau says:

    Suzanne, you are an inspiration to all of us. I hope you are able to get the services and support you need for yourself and your son. When the day-to-day responsibility is lifted, you will be able to be there for him in even better ways as you have the energy to address his needs, to be fulfilled by others. Give yourself permission to have a life too.

  9. Dearest Suzanne,
    My heart is aching and pouring out love to you. I’m sorry I’ve been unaware of your illness and situation. Just catching up now. You are a kind, strong beautiful light-filled warrior. By you sharing this journey will lift others and give comfort and healing. I do think many things are aligning for you though. Your son will get good care and independence. You will finally come up for air after all the years of full time care giving. Let others hold you and your family up now. Be still, breathe and receive. Any chance you could find a restorative yoga class? I’m now on your newsletter list and will continue to send you healing love and light.
    Your friend,

    • Kathy, thank you for being so kind message and uplifting words. It sounds like restorative yoga might be the same as the yoga therapy I just attended this past week. Thank you… I will see if there’s a restorative yoga class closer to home for me. <3

  10. Suzanne, Know that you & your family continue to be in my prayers & in healing energy. Many blessings as you figure this out, step by step, with your visible & invisible support team!
    Janet recently posted..Creative and AliveMy Profile

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