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Grief, loss and living

Grief, loss and living

Narrator: I used to think that “grief” was feeling sad about death. That’s part of it, but I've learned that grieving can be about a lot more.

[The narrator appears on screen. She is looking out a window at the rain. She looks a little sad and anxious. The scene ends.]

Narrator: Grief is the sense of loss you feel when you lose something important or valuable to you.

[Three different scenes appear on the screen. On the left, an employee has been fired and is carrying a box of his possessions away from the office. In the middle, a couple whose relationship is ending stand looking away from each other with angry expressions. On the right, an older person in a wheelchair has had to sell her house because she can’t manage it anymore. The scenes fade out.]

Narrator: People who’ve had cancer – like me – can grieve for many things, because cancer can lead to different types of loss.

[The narrator is looking at photos on a tablet. The first photo shows the narrator skating as a child. The next photo shows her as a teenager with friends. The last photo is of a trophy and a medal. The scene ends.]

Narrator: I was diagnosed with bone cancer in my leg in my third year of university.

[The narrator is on her university campus. She is wearing a backpack and carrying a book. As she speaks, her expression changes from happy to sad and anxious. The scene ends.]

Narrator: It was treatable. I had great healthcare. And my family and friends were amazing.

[The narrator is in a hospital bed. A doctor and a nurse appear on the right side of the bed. Then her friends appear on the left side of the bed. They are holding a gift and balloons.]

Narrator: But because of cancer, I lost an important part of me. While I’m alive – and grateful – I had to learn how to be OK with what I lost and start to accept the new “me.”

[As the narrator speaks, she moves from the hospital bed to a wheelchair. The scene zooms in on the narrator as the doctor, nurse and friends fade out. The narrator looks sad and worried. The scene ends.]

Narrator: See, I’m a hockey player. Or, I was a hockey player. Started skating when I was 3. Lived at the rink. Never thought about a future where I didn’t play.

[A series of photos appear on the screen. In the first, the narrator is playing on a hockey team. In the second, she is shown skating as a child. The third photo shows her as a teenager standing outside of a hockey arena with her equipment bag and a hockey stick. In the last photo, the narrator is smiling as she stands with 2 teammates.]

Narrator: Cancer took away that part of me.

[The teammates fade out and the narrator changes from the smiling version of her in the photo to her current self. She is walking with crutches and wearing a leg brace. The scene ends.]

Narrator: Thanks to advances in treatment, I’m not grieving the loss of my leg. But all the physiotherapy in the world won’t make the bone strong enough for me to keep playing.

[The narrator is at a physical therapy appointment. With the help of her therapist, she is doing exercises to strengthen her leg. The scene fades out.]

Narrator: I was sad and angry about what happened to me. I resented that my friends were still winning games, graduating — all the things I wanted to do.

[The narrator appears on screen. Her arms are crossed and she looks angry and disappointed. A thought bubble appears next to her. It shows her teammates celebrating a win. Another thought bubble appears below it showing her friend graduating from university.]

Narrator: And I felt guilty that I wasn’t more positive about surviving cancer.

[The thought bubbles fade out and the scene zooms in on the narrator. Her expression becomes angrier, sadder and more frustrated. The scene ends.]

Narrator: I tried to hide it all, but my grief affected me physically as well. I slept all day and lost weight because I forgot to eat.

[The narrator is in her bed. She looks tired and sad. Through the window behind her, the sun moves across the sky and then the moon comes out. Plates of uneaten food appear on the nightstand and floor next to her bed. The scene fades out.]

Narrator: The counsellor at the cancer centre helped me realize that what I was feeling was grief.

[The narrator and her counsellor are sitting in armchairs facing each other. The counsellor looks thoughtful and kind. As they are talking, the scene zooms in on the narrator. She looks a bit surprised and relieved.]

Narrator: I was grieving my future and my identity without hockey because it was such a big part of who I was.

[As the narrator speaks, a thought bubble appears in front of her. It shows a pair of hockey skates and a hockey stick. Then the skates and stick turn black and the thought bubble disappears.]

Narrator: I needed to let myself feel all the feelings to learn how to cope with them. I needed to cry, and I needed to talk.

[The narrator begins to cry. The scene zooms out to show the counsellor offering her a box of tissues. Then a speech bubble appears above the narrator to show that she is talking to the counsellor. The scene ends.]

Narrator: I also needed to stay active in a way that didn’t interfere with how my leg healed.

[The narrator and a friend are walking in the park. The narrator is now using walking poles instead of crutches to help her walk. The scene fades out.]

Narrator: You might not grieve the same way. That’s OK. We all do it in our own way.

[On the left side of the screen, a woman is texting on her phone. She is chatting with a Cancer Information Specialist and 2 other people through CancerConnection.ca. On the right side of the screen, a man is playing a guitar. The scene ends.]

Narrator: One day my physiotherapist told me about other clients who stayed involved in sports after injuries. I’d never thought about it, but I could coach, or I could do a job like his. I could play a sport like sled hockey. And I can still skate – just not like before.

[The narrator is on the left side of the screen. As she speaks, thought bubbles appear next to her. The first bubble shows her physiotherapist. The next 3 bubbles show the narrator in 3 different roles. First she is a coach with a whistle and a clipboard. Next she is a physiotherapist working with a client. And in the last bubble she is playing sled hockey. The scene fades out.]

Narrator: Everything hockey taught me can still be part of my life. Taking the time to grieve has helped me realize that I still have a great future, even if it’s different from what I imagined.

[The narrator appears in the middle of the screen. She looks happy. Two of her teammates appear on either side of her. In front of them, the teenage version of the narrator and her friend appear, representing the past. Finally the narrator appears as a sled hockey player, representing what a new future might look like. The scene ends.]

The Canadian Cancer Society is here to help. Visit cancer.ca or call 1-888-939-3333.

[The Canadian Cancer Society’s name, logo, phone number and website address appear on the screen. The Bank of Montreal (BMO) logo appears below it as a proud sponsor of the Cancer Basics video series.]