Remembering Kathy

Picture shared by family on Facebook

Today Facebook reminded me that it is Kathy Dillon’s birthday. I knew Kathy in 2009-2010 when I facilitated a monthly writing group for people affected by cancer at Gilda’s Club in Toronto.

Kathy was a delightful participant. Always open to trying things and always creating unexpected and thought-provoking work. She was a dedicated supporter of my efforts also, staying in touch and encouraging me in my work until her death in 2015. Thinking about her birthday today I went back to our group’s blog and reread her writing. I am sharing some pieces here, “Be Here Now,” “Strength”, & “Sparkles & Sparkle Life”. Happy Birthday, Kathy xoxo


by Kathy D.

How wild is that?

Once again a wilderness feeling has crept into my consciousness. I am starting to feel lost within my losses. My spirit hovers restlessly above my body which, by necessity, stumbles forward in search of completion. The sense of joy, so recently encircling the camp of my story, appears to have moved on to other situations. Abandoned now to my own circuitously circular ways I feel that change has happened. It’s in the past. Now is static, gluey, empty of joy. Drifting along without a plan.

To plan or to drift? The card game of life: scrutinize the possibilities, go with the flow, play the wild card?

Time will tell. It works that way.


by Kathy D.

Physical strength.  Emotional strength.  Metaphysical strength.

Walking up a flight of stairs.  It’s harder walking down them — especially while cursing the TTC and their invisible elevator/escalator maintenance crews.

Twisting the top off a jar.  I finally sprung for some dill pickles and then struggled for 5 minutes to liberate them.

The body needs to be strong.

Moving forward, day by day, when sadness and emptiness sit on my shoulders just waiting to engulf all of me.

Listening to others because everyone has a story and often it is difficult to hear.

The heart needs to be strong.

Believing that the journey really is a greater reward than the destination.

An agnostic needs to be strong.  I know, I know — so does an atheist and so does a believer — but that’s not my story!


by Kathy D.

Sparkle Life

My life has been hard of late.  Pain and sadness wiped out all the sparkle.  But it seems I’m not “all done” just yet.  Slowly and with help I have been lifted off the floor, set upright and gently pushed forward.  New eyes and ears in place, I rediscover all that is familiar.  My how it has changed.  There’s so much more reality and everyone and everything glows in ways I did not previously observe.  The “now” is mostly embraceable and the “what if” set further back, still lurking, but in subdued fashion.  I found my sparkle life again!  Halleluiah!  I am inspired to continue my forward journey.  I know it will be interesting because everyone and everything is new.


Do you want sparkles on that high-fat, calorie-free mound of lemony fluff?  Fluff flecked with fluorescent filaments of fantasy?  Yes, oh yes, please. Sparkles for sure.  And then some sprinkles.  I’ll have the white chocolate sparkles and all the rainbow colours sprinkles.  Let them rain down on me!!


Julie Devaney is a patient activist living in Toronto. She is the author of My Leaky Body (Goose Lane Editions: 2012) and co-editor of MESS: The Hospital Anthology (Tightrope Books: 2014). My Leaky Body was one of Quill and Quire’s Top Five Non-fiction books of 2012. Julie was named a Woman Health Hero by Best Health Magazine in 2011 and has been profiled on CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art and The Current, in Chatelaine and the Toronto Star. Her writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life and numerous anthologies. Julie has given hundreds of presentations at medical schools, nursing conferences and theatres throughout Canada and in the US and the UK using participatory techniques with patients and professionals to formulate strategies for change and innovation in healthcare. Her work at the University Health Network in Toronto has transformed real patient stories into staff training.
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  1. Shana Machmer on March 25, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    That was truly lovely to see Kathy’s words. Thank you for sharing them 🙂

    • Julie on March 25, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      I’m glad, Shana. It was lovely for me to see them again too.

  2. Tamara on April 4, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    A beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing Kathy’s work.

    • Julie on April 5, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks Tamara!

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