Friday, May 22, 2015

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"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.

So instead of aiming for the appeal hearing that was to happen June 4, I am about to undergo a full hysterectomy in three days. And after that, a course of chemotherapy. The outlook is usually five years before the cancer comes back again, and let's be honest, it nearly always ends up killing a person.

Thanks to The Big C's arrival, I had to ask for an adjournment of the appeal hearing set for June 4. There was a double whammy of problems: with the intermittent pain and constant fatigue, there was no way I could complete another five sets of massive appeal books (now over 2000 numbered, indexed, and tabbed pages in six bound volumes) plus a new factum (brief) by the April 16 deadlines. Now the surgery makes even showing up on June 4 impossible.

And since I didn't know when I'd be well enough to complete all the paperwork, let alone appear in court, the judge simply set another day, June 24, to revisit the matter and set new deadlines. Fortunately the HRM prosecutor - possibly a first  - did not oppose my request, and the judge - also a first - was more than willing to grant it without any of the usual admonitions or remonstrations.

It's taken weeks to absorb all of this. Friends and family, including my 90+ mother, have been amazing and supporting; a wonderful aunt in the medical profession has been even more amazing and supportive; but somehow I still cannot get a grip on it no matter how hard I try. Not that I've had much time for that, with all that needed to be arranged for a 4-5 day hospital stay and the weeks of recovery at home. It really takes a lot of work, just like when I prepared for a transatlantic commute, but with a lot more worry of course.

Granted, I had two or three cancer scares in the past seven years - but those were for Brindi, whose chronic pancreatitis (a gift from the SPCA) puts her at risk for even more deadly pancreatic cancer. In fact, she could have it at this very moment and I would not know. In 2012, Halifax's lawyers ceased allowing our vet to monitor her blood every month as she had done since 2010. This has not done much to lessen my stress and distress in all this time, I can tell you.

So if you are one of those who subscribe to the belief that trauma and stress can bring on cancer, well, I wouldn't say you were wrong. With no family history of this kind of cancer (and relatively little cancer at all), it truly came out of left field.

Day after day, people ask me, "How do you know Brindi is still alive?" Not exactly very considerate question to ask somebody in my position, don't you think? And it's not like I haven't posted so many many many time that I don't know, because HRM will not provide concrete medical information or any reliable information. I do not know how to force them to do it because the judges don't seem to agree that it's necessary. So now, quite frankly, I honestly don't know if I will still be alive to finish the onerous but necessary task of completing the whole appeal and getting her home.

For the same reason, I don't know if I will ever finish my house renovation. And not just because of the immense financial burden it poses, now that I've been drained of the funds set aside for it. I have a slew of other goals that would be nice to accomplish as well - finally finish my PhD, for instance, and get it published in some form. And things of that nature...

But I could happily scrap everything else and this world to boot, happily, if I could only get Brindi safely home and complete the work on this old heritage house as I planned it: the whole garage/deck, basement slab, window and door replacement, cladding, roofing, and oh yeah, a heat pump, what a nice thing it would be to have central heating again.

I never imagined in a million years that either of these tasks would prove so damned difficult.


  1. I don't know what to say to you except I will pray for you to get your beloved Brindi back in your arms to help you with the healing process. God keep you safe and heal your wounded heart.

  2. I have been admiring your courage and determination from the beginning. My question from time to time always is: is Brindi still alive ?

    Make no mistake. I understand exactly how you feel, I have been fighting animal control in Quebec for the last 40 years and I am now stuck in Court for no fault of my own. Our shelter cats were seized and disposed of because their litter box was full and their water and food bowls empty at 8 o'clock in the morning when they raided the place.

    If you have a chance to take a few spoonful of good olive oil every day it would help you fight that other damned enemy. Take care

  3. Dearest Francesca,

    Having witnessed this horrific miscarriage of justice unfold for the past SEVEN YEARS, my heart has been breaking for both of you, knowing what an unprecedented and unconscionable ordeal has been foisted upon you & Brindi. And for WHAT???

    NO reason except that HRM "officials" refused to admit that they overstepped their legal authority from the very beginning, repeatedly covering up their abuses, malfeasance & crimes. They don't have a victim or any crime!

    I can only imagine the endless HELL you have suffered at the hands of HRM corrupt authorities. They have ruined your life & the reputation of the City of Halifax.

    You have paid all of Brindi's annual licensing fees, vaccinations, vet bills, obedience training & 5 independent evaluations ALL POSITIVE since BRINDI is NOT an aggressive or dangerous dog while HRM ignores the proof that CONTRADICTS their decision to KILL BRINDI.

    Still you complied with illegal orders to muzzle your gentle dog who had already been surrendered & locked up at the SPCA for two years through no fault of her own, before you kindly adopted her one magical day.

    It was only after false reports from vindictive neighbours that power tripping or inept staff wrongfully seized Brindi & kept her illegally locked up on death row. No damage to anyone or their property during a few normal territorial dog scuffles near her own property. That was the start of an illegal & twisted plot to kill an innocent dog likely to spite her mystified owner.

    Then came many charges & fines in violation of HRM's own dog by laws, an incompetent or corrupt judicial system, fraudulent increases in property taxes in order to force eviction from your home in two weeks, immoral lawyers, unethical home renovators, horrific weather that took a toll on your home & vehicle, violations of your human rights, interference of your ability to work in your chosen professional, financial devastation, on & on. So much malevolence against someone so kind, fair, decent & valuable to the city in so many ways. All of this... for what? [cont'd]

  4. part two:

    The Halifax media reported the blatant lies HRM told them, selling Haligonians a fairy tale far from the truth, pitting some people to attack your character, sterling reputation and competence as a pet owner, all unfounded and terribly cruel.

    Your beautiful Brindi has also been used & abused, locked up in substandard conditions at Wydenfog Kennel, a short term, unlicensed facility for SEVEN YEARS & counting. Is she even still alive? We have reason to believe she has been illegally killed by these same charlatans who put her there in the first place!!

    Her time has long exceeded any "crime" and you have been given a possible "Death Sentence" from the Cancer they cause, ALL for simply asking for some justice, trying to save Brindi's life from those who simply could not admit they were wrong!!

    It has been truly reprehensible & indefensible under ANY circumstances, but their obscene violations have been exposed and the world will avoid this place like the plague if they fail to RELEASE BRINDI ON COMPASSIONATE GROUNDS.

    This may be the way OUT of the mess HRM has made of this case, despite never showing an iota of compassion for a beloved dog who has never bitten anyone in her lifetime, and a compliant owner who has been such a devoted animal lover, upstanding citizen, taxpayer, property owner and professional architect with so much to offer this undeserving place.

    If there was ever a place on earth called HELL, it is HALIFAX.


    They both need each other NOW MORE THAN EVER, and BOTH have more than paid their dues, for crimes neither one has ever committed.

    Just imagine such a heartless, ruthless, gutless campaign being waged against YOUR dog and your POWERLESS friend, daughter, sister, mother, aunt or grandmother, or an unjustified VENDETTA against YOURSELF.

    FAIR WARNING: The next victims of HRM Animal Control and their Kangaroo Court could be ANYONE... IF NOTHING IS DONE TO CORRECT THIS TERRIBLE TRAVESTY NOW... before it is TOO LATE for BRINDI AND FRANCESCA.

  5. The judge and HRM's prosecutor both seem to understand illness. I suggest your appeal on a compassionate basis for you and Brindi to spend your final days together.


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