Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Thoughts on Dangerous Dogs & Seizure Warrants in Halifax

I believe in good animal control and good dog by-laws because public safety is important. I don't happen to believe in putting a healthy dog down.

Dogs just don't rate high enough as a threats to human life to merit killing them if they step out of line. Dogs don't even show up on the top 50 causes of accidental death and injury. So to me, killing a healthy dog because it inflicts harm, or is said to be likely to inflict harm, is unacceptably disproportionate. It's also immoral, when you consider that Canada no longer kill humans who kill other humans.

When balanced against the enormous value of the human-canine bond that predates modern society, killing healthy dogs seems very immoral. People have kept dogs for some 30,000 years - longer than there were cities, laws, and the family as we know it - and the human-canine bond is likely to endure longer than those institutions. True, not everybody likes dogs, but dogs serve everybody - in security, in special needs cases, at hospitals, and, lord knows, in research! So it's only right that our laws reflect how important dogs are to us.

As a result, any city insisting it has a right to destroy lawfully owned dogs must insure that those laws are fair and and effective. Above all, they must avoid infringing rights and harming dogs needlessly. And the most important part of dog by-laws is the definition of dangerous at their core. Without a reasonable, science-based definition of "dangerous", no dog laws can be fair or effective. When we look at how Halifax deals with "dangerous", however, things don't look so good.

Under Halifax local law,  deeming a dog dangerous doesn't require Halifax to seize and kill the dog in question, regardless of circumstance. The law doesn't stipulate when Halifax should kill a dog, such as following a serious incident. It leaves all of this up to the animal control officer and the prosecutor. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Halifax you are NOT entitled to adopt Brindi out! She already has a loving home - my home!


So tonight CTV Atlantic ran a top story saying "Brindi the dog gets new owner" [Ed. note: The story was taken down a few days later]. That's news to me!

You might expect me to welcome such news, but I could not be more upset. And for a host of reasons.

Sure, I got an email from the HRM prosecutor Katherine Salsman on Monday, saying HRM will "proceed with the adoption". What adoption, I asked? Just days before, and ever since 2010, this woman has had a one-track mind about killing Brindi.*

Then I warned her that it was not entitled to do this legally - not now and not for a long time, thanks to the lawsuit that HRM itself forced me to file back in 2008 (more on this below).

But I didn't think CTV would just blindly report this story without checking facts. And, they said they tried to contact me for a comment. Yet I didn't get one call, email, or tweet, nothing. 


Did anybody think to ask the responsible parties at city hall why, after SEVEN YEARS of trying to kill her (lawfully or unlawfully), they are suddenly willing to let my beautiful, smart, loving girl live?

Isn't HRM essentially conceding it's been wrong all along??

I think so. So my heart has been broken over and over, I lived through hell for seven years, suffering from trauma after trauma, fear and grief, PTSD, depression, enduring countless losses and hardship, unable to work full time, unable to complete major home renovations, unable to live, essentially - and the same for Brindi, who has been made ill and kept in isolation year after year after year, all for nothing. Of course, for nothing. I already knew this - so did HRM, frankly, because it always knew it had no case for seizing and killing Brindi. 

But no way does
HRM now get to do an about-face and talk about adoption as if it was already a done-deal. Not so fast!!! Not until and unless those responsible are held accountable for all the damage done, in addition to wasting taxpayer money on needless and, let's be honest, malicious prosecution.

SECONDLY... Can we believe HRM and its prosecutor, Ms. Salsman? 

How do we know for sure what HRM will really do with Brindi, let alone what it is doing to her now? Not only has HRM been dishonest in the past about Brindi and other dogs; its "staff" have cloaked themselves in excessive secrecy, the kind that shouts "We have something to hide!"

THIRDLY... It's a bit premature for HRM to announce adoption, because of the following.

What is a puncture wound? How prosecutors use words when hard evidence is lacking.

This photo shows the worst injury  said to result from an incident between Brindi and a dog named Lucy in front of her house one dark night in 2010.

HRM calls it a puncture wound. 

There was also a shallow abrasion about the same on Lucy's opposite shoulder, and a scratch on one ear, which was not photographed.  
No photos of injuries Brindi allegedly caused before 2010 - i.e., before she was seized to be killed in 2008 - are available. This is because there was nothing worth photographing.

What gets me is that nobody in the media and very few others noticed the glaring absence of the customary bloody photos of a "victim dog". Did they not ask why HRM never released any photos to the media? I was too busy trying to keep my head above water to even think of it, and nobody ever asked. Yet this photo is really all HRM had to show when it tried a third time to get a lawful order to kill Brindi. And failed a third time.

These photos show injuries sustained by a dog in a dog attack from 2014.
It penetrated through all layers of skin. And it needed stitches and a drainage tube to keep it from becoming infected

The injured dog's vet care cost its owner over $2,000.  

This is the image the words "puncture wound" conjure up in people's minds.

HRM did not seize the dog that attacked. It did not prosecute its owners with the aim of obtaining a court order to destroy the dog. It did issue a fine and a muzzle order. However, not long afterwards, the dog was reported - and photographed - running at large with no muzzle on.  

A muzzle order violation! The only reason HRM seized Brindi twice.
But for that dog, HRM, or rather Officer Brad Kelly, did nothing about it. That dog is still running loose on a beach near you.

This is the vet bill from the injuries allegedly caused by Brindi.
There is a second bill two weeks later.

Why is HRM doing this to us?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Who put the "no" in Nova Scotia? My December 2010 Memo to HRM Prosecutor Katherine Salsman

I  met with Ms. Salsman for three hours in early December, 2010 - exactly five years ago -  to offer five possible options for Brindi, in return for me pleading guilty and paying fines on three offences HRM graciously charged me for one incident, even though that incident happened by mistake and led to no "measurable harm" as they say.

By then HRM had been holding Brindi for nearly three months - again. HRM by-law thugs (sorry, but they were) had also evicted me from my home unlawfully, and Dawn Sloane and other members of Council refused to allow me my right of appeal. So my cat Amelia and I were essentially homeless. 

Two friends came with me to that meeting. It was Ms. Salsman who declared that the meeting was not a negotiation because she refused to negotiate. I said fine, I will talk, and you will listen! And since it wasn't a negotiation then there was no obligation for confidentiality. This was clear. 

Ms. Salsman, with an alarming air of authority (not to say belligerence) for someone so recently out of law school, vetoed every single offer. When I asked to talk with her superior, she thoroughly blocked that idea.

My friends and I went home. Or rather, I left, and they went home. I tried not to lose my mind. I wrote up what we each said in a memo and sent it to her about a week later. She wrote back insisting on confidentiality after the fact, even threatened various consequences. Too late.

So this is the memo. 

December 14, 2010

Dear Ms. Salsman:

Here is a summary of your position and points you expressed last Friday in our meeting and in
other conversations and documents since October.

• HRM is seeking guilty verdicts on one or more of three charges solely for the purpose of
obtaining a court order to kill Brindi.

• You rejected my offer to plead guilty on all three charges in exchange for Brindi’s return and
stated that HRM plans to ask for one dollar fines and seek a court order to destroy my dog.

• Under no circumstances will you, as HRM prosecutor,

1. Release Brindi pending trial, even on a bond as high as $10,000, which I offered.
2. Let her go to a foster home pending trial.
3. Drop the HRM request to put Brindi down.
4. Let her go back with me to the States (or anywhere else) permanently.
5. Let her go to another owner, either here or anywhere else.
6. Make or accept any offer for me to get her back and keep her alive.
• HRM will return Brindi only if ordered to [do so] by a court.

With regard to your goal as prosecutor, you stated further that:

• Under the law, you are not required to show any grounds for putting Brindi down,* though
you concede no reasonable court will order destruction of life without sufficiently compelling

Saturday, December 5, 2015

How to Bury a Dog & Her Human Alive, Layer by Layer

Why do people insist on believing that the 2012 ruling I am appealing ordered HRM to adopt Brindi, when HRM itself doesn't see it that way?

How can I possibly ever win an appeal in a case riddled with twisted truths, gross exaggerations, key omissions, sheer lies?  This is not a game I know how to play.

Background: parsing court rulings

Judge Buchan's sentence, June 26 2012, p. 9 *
“But for her complacency for ensuring that Brindi could not act out her territorial aggression on other innocent dogs after having been given more than adequate opportunity to do so, I am satisfied that Brindi cannot safely be returned to Ms. Rogier.”
Okay so I cannot help but take it apart. Humour me please. 

her complacency: not a correct or fair conclusion to draw from strict liability offences where intent is not considered. And both she and HRM acknowledged the window mistake was unintentional I testified that I had otherwise always muzzled/leashed her in the car even though I knew it put her at risk; that night the hot weather dictated not leaving them on in a parking lot; I testified that I believed I had secured the car. None of that is consistent with complacency.

And the term is otherwise completely contradicted by a wealth of evidence, including the uncontested fact that I not only met but exceeded the court conditions by continuing training voluntarily, confirmed by the trainer’s testimony and her special statement for sentencing that set out the training details and her assessment of Brindi; a letter of support for Brindi and her confidence in me from our vet, and two sworn affidavits attesting to my rigorous attention to the conditions and to training. Plus informal letters from local mothers of small children. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Why won't you step up, Hope Swinimer? Open Letter to Halifax Pound Contractor

As a famous John once famously said to a famous Paul, "How do you sleep?"

You made your name saving wild animals with Hope for Wildlife. You founded Homeward Bound Citypound as the pound contractor for the Halifax Regional Municipality since 2010, taking over from the SPCA. Your goal, you told me, was to gain addition income for the wildlife rehab centre - to pay two staff members, if I remember correctly.

So essentially you are using this business, the pound, to support your wild-life rehab. 
And in its day-to-day business, the pound carries out various functions, including executing orders for and by the Halifax Regional Municipality. [It is part of the municipal system of by-law enforcement. The same system that took my dog away from me twice, under questionable circumstances, and had you hold her indefinitely since 2010 [though as seized property, the law compels it to be returned if, like Brindi, it is not evidence].

My question to you is simple: when are you going to finally stand up for Brindi? She's an animal too, just like the wild ones you love to rescue.

Doesn't my dog have the same right to a good life as a wild animal? How is keeping her kenneled year after year a good life? Why did you allow your subcontractor to swear to a judge she is okay when you know very well she isn't? She's got at least two chronic diseases!

We both know you have been profiting from your business, and it's no exaggeration to say it was my fight for Brindi that opened up this opportunity for you in 2010. So haven't you been essentially profiting from our misery for five years now? Five years!! And for those five years she and I suffered while you collected a healthy sum - something like $2.5 million for the first three years? How much more now, since the new contract last March? I don't know. I don't want to know.

What I do know is, I did some good volunteer work for you at Hope for Wildlife for over a year. The peace pole standing on your property right now was my project, done at your special request, from start to finish. From finding the right artist, commissioning it, selecting the design, the languages, and organizing its fabrication and delivery, to choosing its location on your land. Then, though I did not feel up to it because the city had taken Brindi from me just weeks before, and I could hardly bear being in public, I designed and organized the unveiling ceremony too, for you! I'd lost about 15 pounds by then, was unable to eat because of Brindi. Everybody noticed.

I want my dog back!
My work at your open house for the kids, again at your request, where I came up with a fun way to make bird beaks with real feathers, teaching about shapes of beaks, was a big hit. I did it because I love animals, I did it because I believed in you. 

I cannot tell you how saddening it is to me, to be repaid this way. To know that I also sought your help, in trust, and instead you saw it as an opportunity to advance your own interests and simply took it.

You know how much Brindi means to me. How can you live with yourself, truly?

Why won't Halifax tell me how Brindi is, or take her to her vet?

I can no longer shut my ears from the question people keep asking me: What makes you think Brindi is still alive? 

They seem to be asking this more than ever. And I am worried more than ever. I ask HRM often, and they refuse to give me any information. They used to just ignore the question. But more recently they  say they are "satisfied" that they don't have to give me any info on Brind because she is not relevant to the appeal. Not relevant? She is the whole reason for the appeal. I am not satisfied.

How can I write a brief without knowing how she is, or if she is? I cannot, I am finding. I haven't got anything to go on for three years. What I do know is she is not healthy per se because of her chronic conditions. And I know she is not getting the supplement that stabilizes her blood enzymes. And there is no reason on earth HRM is not able to tell me or to take her to Dr. Larkin for a checkup. Dr. Larkin has written several times as well, no answer. So it is maddeningly worrying. It's totally debilitating in fact. Paralyzing.

I am going to have to do something soon about it, somehow, because for weeks and weeks I've been having migraines, flare-ups of muscle pain, insomnia. By now I cannot focus or concentrate at all, I sleep randomly, I can't manage the house or bills or anything. It's too much. And the work for court is incredibly complicated, the papers riddled with reminders that trigger PTSD like nobody's business. I stare in lockdown-mode for hours. Then suddenly a memory stabs my brain and I'm sobbing for fifteen minutes.

Nobody should have to live like this. My house is a mess. I can't work. I have no holiday plans, the seventh year in a row. I can't fly to the US to see my 94 year-old mother. I have nothing to look forward to - nothing but more difficulty and hardship, and possibly much more grief, because this is my last chance.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Not-So-Secret Lies and Ugly Truths

This Time It's Personal

Did the Halifax municipal prosecutor lie in August when she declined a deal to let Brindi go to the US in return for me to withdraw my appeal?  

After a winter like no other - six to eight inches of solid ice for months and record snows that drove everyone a bit mad here - I ended up spending the summer recovering from surgery for ovarian cancer. It was a double-whammy procedure to remove a large malignant tumour on my ovary, as well as certain lady parts I wasn't too happy about losing. I held my breath until the biopsies came back, and by August the coast was clear and I was able to get around on my own. But I was still far too dazed and worn to tackle yet more court documents. I can't help feeling they're what made me sick in the first place, frankly.

Brindi in distress, ca. 30 minutes after seizure, Sept. 24, 2010.
(Imagine if your best friend was put on death row, and their life depended entirely on you, and your ability to fake a language known only to members of a private club. Your friend will die unless you find the right combination of signs and sounds to convince a judge to listen to you instead of the club member in the room - the prosecutor, a native speaker. Then imagine having to do this over and over, year after year, to keep your friend alive, as they grow sick and old. You know you will never speak the language yet you have no choice. You can never see your friend; and after a time, no one will tell you if they are even alive. That's more or less my life.)

I was at the point that I could not tolerate it anymore. So I asked a kind relative I haven’t seen in decades to call HRM solicitor Katherine Salsman on my behalf and ask once more if she would agree to mediation. When she said no, he went ahead and made an offer to adopt Brindi, suggesting that in return I might be persuaded to drop my appeal. 

She declined his offer as "too complicated" - and then said to my amazement that HRM had a family all picked out to adopt Brindi.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

HRM Animal By-law A-700 shocker! New money-maker for Halifax preserves A-300's biggest flaws

[Update: Overnight, a petition appeared: Mayor Savage Fix the Animal Control By-law A-700. Please sign and share!]

Reading A-700 gives me the distinct impression that HRM Council feels I got off lightly. And yet even though HRM has struck out three times in its bid to kill her, Brindi is still locked up after seven years. There is nothing light about that.

Timing is everything... and everything about the timing of the release of the "new" By-Law A-700 for the Halifax Regional Municipality (I'll never comprehend how a municipality can be regional) is simply nuts. And that's just the beginning!

I have not blogged for months. There are a lot of important reasons; they all add up to what I call flatlining. But I can't talk about that now. I have to talk about this. I am trying very hard to meet a court deadline, resuming with reluctance this very difficult task, after trying very hard to find representation - coming close but no cigar. Having to turn away offers of work as this deadline approaches doesn't make it any easier. Neither does having my head explode more than once in the past four weeks by things that just never happen but somehow did to me. Things best left unsaid, for now.

Now I am just speechless - A-700???  I am trying to overcome all manner of obstacles - financial, physical, emotional, spiritual, you name it, to appeal charges under A-300 and the horrible sentence under the little-known "additional penalty" clause tucked into the voluminous HRM Charter, and suddenly this A-700 drops from the sky. It should be called "A-007 Skyfall"! The HRM "Regional" Council voted on it a month ago, and whisked it into effect so fast this weekend, I never even heard it was thinking of it. Even a friend who reads the paper every day missed it. Maybe they wanted to avoid the long years of Council debates before A-300 went into effect?

Still, I would have thought Council would want to make sure it heard from the public first, especially since it had to change A-300 right away when folks went ballistic over the cat licenses. Apparently everybody missed the fact that A-300 contained sections that violate Charter rights, one of which I had to go to court about when it seized Brindi so wrongly and, it turned out, unlawfully.

Council sort of lost the trust of a lot of people after that too. It sure lost mine. Words cannot express the magnitude of the consequences of the way Animal Services treated me and my dog since 2008 - no end of drastic financial and material loss it's caused me, with years of lost income, the extreme and sustained emotional distress of separation and worry about Brindi, not to mention the effects on my professional and personal reputation - with social shunning as well as outright attack from stalkers, cyberstalkers, and cyberbullying from total strangers.

However, reading A-700 gives me the distinct impression that HRM Council feels I got off lightly.

Looking Back

When HRM seized Brindi intending to put her down in 2008 under very murky circumstances, it forced me into court twice, right off the bat: first, to suspend the date they picked out to kill her, because they didn't provide any form of appeal, and second, because they refused to reconsider their decision, would not meet with me or my local councillor, would not read letters from everybody from next-door neighbours with infants to kennel owners, groomers, and even the Canadian Post letter carrier. So the first filing was about wrongful seizure - and it would easily have taken a year to resolve.

Then, when HRM not only refused to meet with me and then refused to allow Brindi to be assessed, I had no choice but to file another application on the law itself - because even a former junior high student council president like me could tell it was unconstitutional. Not to mention, the Animal (Dis)Services people were delighting in having found their first victim - a docile rescue dog that didn't scare them in the least.

And, I never imagined the city would allow the matter to actually go to court! I thought, surely they'd want to avoid that embarrassment, and would rather discuss returning Brindi with me in exchange for four actions on my part - paying fines - once they charged me with something, as they'd leapt from a mild warning to drastic action; installing a dog run attached to the back door to prevent escapes, which I did while waiting; complying with a muzzle order, another drastic action that violated the same rights; I'd hoped to appeal it, but discovered there was no way to do it; and lastly, do specialized training with Brindi on her reactions to certain dogs approaching the property.

Boy was I wrong! The team of lawyers running city hall is pretty confident of themselves. And they are really sore losers. "Why should we abandon our position?" is their mantra.

But still! Sections that violate basic rights jump right out at you, if you have any understanding of your rights, that is - like the right to be heard and the right of appeal on any decision affecting you or your property. There were about four sections that were equally unconstitutional; in fact I'd actually asked the lawyer I hired to get Brindi back to include them all. Would have been easy, using the same brief, he blurted out by accident a few weeks too late. The look on my face must have been the reason he backed slowly out of the room.

Anyhow, I so wished he had done the job I paid him for, because, while section 8(2)(d) isn't there, it looks like the other right-violating sections were transplanted to A-700.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


How long has Brindi been locked up? 

From Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 to Sunday, November 22, 2015
Result: 1885 days, or 5 years, 1 month, 29 days

Added to the previous two-year stint, from and including: 

Thursday, July 24, 2008, to Friday, July 9, 2010
Result: 716 days, or 1 year, 11 months, 16 days

A grand total of 2601 days - or, 7 years, 1 month, 25 days.  

She was four when they took her, now she's... oh, you do the math.

Brindi at East Chezzetcook's Long Beach, soon after adoption in summer 2007.
Teeth whiter than white, vibrant and healthy at age 4 after two years in a no-kill shelter.
And to think how in those first July days of unbearable pain, shock, terror, agony at the unthinkable prospect of her spending a week or weeks in that SPCA "shelter". The minute they drove off, immune to my please, it felt like they'd gutted me from top to bottom. Lost ten pounds in seven days, could not eat, sleep, think. Seven years later physically gutted thanks to ovarian cancer... could never even finish restoring my gutted house.

Stay numb. Don't think. Just meet those deadlines... I can't do this.

All for a short-lived mishap in which she ran towards the front yard to check out a possible intruder - a man I never saw before in this tiny community. Started kicking her as soon as she came within reach while he let his dog run off - the dogs never even touched. Stalked off before I could finish a sentence. Had no idea he'd even called HRM until five days later when two men came into my house without a word, then brandished a warrant and took her while I tried in vain to call a lawyer. The man had said he wasn't planning to report it, but then his mom told him some rumours - harmless scuffles became savage attacks. And yet he had to add how surprised he was that she didn't even snap at him when he kicked her head and stomach over and over, as I begged him to stop.

HRM's Animal Services people must have thought, "Hey, perfect candidate to try out our brand new by-law, A-300, let's us seize & kill at will!" They went one step further by not bothering to get my side of the story, let alone talk to a true eyewitness... So no proper investigation. And they'd already set it up by issuing a muzzle order for Brindi - exploiting a dog owner's request not to fine me for a similar scuffle a month earlier, because I was nice enough to offer to cover a vet to check it over and she promptly ran up a bill of $143, covering a full check-up and a second visit. I'd forgotten all about what happened weeks before that, when she and her dog passed on the road and her dog began lunging and barking uncontrollably. Brindi remained a perfect lady, sitting obediently at my feet. She was, is, such a good dog, so loving, so eager to please, and after a year of diligent training, pretty darn reliable off-leash. But dog's don't forget: provocation then, provocation later, when she saw that pair coming towards our house. 
Last photo of Brindi I have, taken by a vet tech in 2012, age 9.
After just 6 months in the pound, her teeth and gums were 
already rotting, chronic pancreatitis setting in. 
The minute a judge turned over Brindi and her fate to 
the city in 2012, the prosecutor cut off the bi-monthly
visits - which I'd paid for, totalling $2000 - glibly 
remarking, "Brindi's not sick. She doesn't need to see the vet."

To point out such things did nothing but allow the city lawyers to chant, "See, your Lordship, proof Ms. Rogier still doesn't take it seriously! She's unwilling and unable to comply!"

Sigh. HRM's lawyers are good, all right. Good at twisting words and truth, at recasting simple scuffles as near fatalities! Of course they have help, like the unfriendly lady across the street. Out here, most folks wave at every passing car; this one hadn't once said hi since I'd moved. Much later, under oath, she did admit she hadn't actually seen anything. But thanks to her, the official docs still say Java "yelped" while Brindi was "on her back" and the man had to kick her in order to pry her off. 

Not what he, I, or that eyewitness, or even that judge said - but why let the facts get in the way of victory?? They've embellished and twisted everything - nearly tripling the vet bill to $363 (and it's in evidence!). They even got the judge to mistakenly assume I took her to obedience class "due to behavioural problems". In reality, I'd taught her the basics in a few weeks; we took the class simply to advance - to make her the best dog she could be so we could go anywhere, do anything, like my dearly departed Howard and me. 

When I called that woman asking for help after the city took Brindi again, she refused, and told me "Why don't you just go get another dog at the shelter?" Seems that's what she did - at least, I never saw her dog again.

Friday, May 22, 2015

"The Belly of the Architect": The Big C Pre-Empts Everything from Court to Construction

 It's been nearly half a year since I posted anything here, and probably for the best, since it's been a pretty hellish time and it's unclear how things will go from here.

First of all, the winter, which got fully underway by February and peaked with the big blizzard on March 19, was uniquely horrible. Never experienced anything like it in my life. Thick sheets of ice covered the driveway and parts of the lawn from February to late March. Salt was useless. Even now, nearly the end of May, it's still chilly and gray most days. 

Along the way, my plumbing went out for a few weeks at a time - and this happened more than once. Just after I got that under control, on March 5 as I brought in the groceries, my feet shot out from under me suddenly. I fell back into open space, my head eventually bouncing off the ice with a loud crack. Concussion, with all the usual earmarks - nausea, headaches, etc.

Then I began noticing that my belly would cramp up a few minutes after tossing a few shovelfuls of snow around - which I did just to clear a little around the car. (Otherwise I was happy to leave it where it was for the most part; this snow was frozen and extremely heavy, not worth breaking your back for).

Sometime in the past four months, well before this news, but in no less of a dark depression, I posted in the Brindi Activists group on Facebook as if in some sort of trance, "One of us is going to die soon." I can't explain what I was thinking. It didn't come from my brain, it came to it, somehow.

By late March I had been to the doctors and even the ER a few times with pain and other disquieting symptoms, including a lot more chronic fatigue than I usually have. An ultrasound right after Easter brought the alarming news of a sizable tumor that stunned the doctors as much as it did me. It was followed by a blood test that strongly indicated malignancy. By that time I had done a little research and figured it out myself, albeit it an uncommitted sort of way.

I have ovarian cancer. Yup, that's me. The fifth leading cause of cancer deaths, it's particularly deadly because unlike breast cancer, it evades early detection. And by now my tumor, which is where my ovaries once were, is about the size of a grapefruit according to the last scan.