The Bearable Lightness of Being

Tamara Gignac: Finding lightness. (Photo by Leah Hennel)
Tamara Gignac: Finding lightness. (Photo by Leah Hennel)

Tamara Gignac is a journalist, wife and mom.  She worked with my wife at the Calgary Herald, before Robin moved to Winnipeg to get her hands on my fortune (hundreds).

In June 2014, Tamara was diagnosed with Stage-4 colon cancer. She launched into chemo and her Facebook updates showed she was doing it with the right attitude: fierce and defiant, with humour. She’s enjoyed the restorative benefits of love and support from all around her.

A September fundraiser raised a lot of money for her and her family. While that is no cure, it really does alleviate fears over providing for one’s family in the future. (I was the beneficiary of two fundraisers, in Regina and Winnipeg, that are still helping my family. The fact that Tamara’s fundraiser netted more than mine only tells me I need to be a much better person.)

Last week, Tamara got the call all of the cancerous hope for: the tumours are shrinking. I know how that call feels. It’s not a cure but it buys time; another today with spouse and kids.

In June 2011, I was diagnosed. In August, I started chemo. By October, I was still waiting for news. Was the chemo working?

In my gut, I did not expect it to end well. So there I was, that October day, golfing with a friend and my father-in-law. My cell rang. It was my oncologist. His message, delivered succinctly and a bit excitedly, was that half the tumours were shrinking and the other half were gone.

I thanked him, and started crying  My golf mates walked up and put their arms around me. I finished the hole and called my wife, who tearfully asked me to hurry home. (I did, the minute I finished the round).

I remember most the palpable lightness throughout my body. I could feel something growing in my chest, like a balloon. My golf shoes seemed a few inches above the ground. For the first time in four months, I knew what genuine hope felt like.

I hope this is what Tamara is feeling right now. I am so happy for her.


Follow Tamara’s story at Team Tamara, a Facebook page started by her vast and loving group of friends and family. 


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