Archive for the 'Events' Category

Life is busy again!

Posted by on Apr 10 2016 | Events, Life at home, MS, MS Walk

MS reception Jen 022

This past week we’ve had some warm, summery temperatures. On Friday (two days ago), I put on a summer dress and rode my bike to my new volunteer position. Later on, Daniel took a photo of me with a little bit of a lilac tree we rescued from a house demolition last year and it seems to be doing very well. I love lilacs and look forward to having this tree in the back yard.

Over the past month I have worked on a few little projects. I did six sessions as a volunteer patient at VGH with five neurologists and one neurosurgeon. I was the ‘symptomatic’ patient for cranial nerve exams. One of the instructors was the head of the MS Clinic. I made sure that was on my best behaviour for that! Different instructors take different approaches with me. Some let me tell a lot of my story and others don’t. My favourite of the last batch was Dr. Esma Dilli. She was kind and really smart. She knows a lot about TN and I was really impressed.

I have been fundraising again for the MS Walk for our team, Wahls Warriors. Right now, our team is #1 in Vancouver and I’m #2 individual fundraiser. These things will change closer to the walk but I’m pleased so far. Getting donations every year has its challenges. Most people I ask don’t ever give but if I don’t ask, it won’t happen! Some people give once and never again. The former friends who have dropped out of my life are simply gone. No more donations, emails, phone calls or invitations. Others give consistently every year right away when I ask. I do know that there are so many reasons to give to many different causes, so I do my best not to take it personally.


The MS Society held an official launch for the walk last Tuesday in the heart of downtown Vancouver, and as a top fundraiser for the walk, I was invited to attend. It was nice to be included. I took a few photos of the presentations. When I downloaded them at home, I was really pleased to see my team from last year in the photo on the screen behind the speaker, Stephanie Mosher.

MS reception Jen 007

Other than all of these things, the regular activities that consume my time are shopping for food at the farmers market and my local organic stores, Organic Acres and Choices. And along with the shopping for food comes cooking and washing dishes! My daily routines revolve around food and chores around the house.

The sun is shining again! Time to go for a walk.

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Minister of Justice & Attorney General

Posted by on Nov 04 2015 | Events, Women in Leadership


What a day for Jody! And a great day for Canada!

There are many of us, women and men, who have worked towards greater representation of women in government. This new cabinet reflects much of the diversity in Canada.

There is a lot of work to be done and some challenges ahead. But it was a great day today.

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Jody Wilson-Raybould, my new MP

Posted by on Nov 03 2015 | Events, Life at home, Women in Leadership

Liberal Victory Jody 023

On the night of October 19, Jody Wilson-Raybould was elected in our new federal riding of Vancouver Granville. As tomorrow is the day that the new cabinet will be sworn in, I wanted to post this before the announcement. Most media reports are suggesting that she will be appointed by Trudeau to cabinet. Over the course of the past 15 months we’ve had many chances to spend time with her.

I was given some special honours during her campaign. I was asked to say a few words of welcome at her campaign office opening. And she asked me if I would be willing to write an endorsement for her. I did with great pleasure. It was astonishing for me to see who else had been asked. I was seriously outclassed as there were several prominent citizens there!

She even tweeted my endorsement just before the election.


Last year, after being acclaimed as the Liberal Candidate, Jody had a chance to introduce Trudeau at a rally held at Douglas Park. It was the first political rally I had been to for a long time.

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Daniel and I were inspired last winter to go out door knocking for Jody so that we could see Stephane Dion again. We had been delegates for him at the 2006 Montreal convention and it was an amazing experience.


I had the chance to invite Jody to the WAMS (Women Againts MS) event where I spoke on March 31. It was there she learned about how prevalent MS is in Canada. She wanted to join my team for the MS Walk. How could I say no?

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Jody is such a down-to-earth, fun-loving person that she is a pleasure to be around. It was so much fun to have her as part of our team, the Wahls Warriors. I realized that she had so much to offer our community and our country.

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As the election date drew closer, Daniel and I got more involved. He worked on the sign team and a bit in the office. I did little bits here and there. Jody and her team worked so hard for over a year to get to get to know residents and communicate the Liberal vision.

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And on election day, our house was a ‘home centre’ for volunteers where we spent all day getting our vote out. It was go, go, go all day. At 7:00 pm, when the polls closed, I dropped off a couple of volunteers to do the count at a local polling station and heard that a Trudeau victory had been declared. I started to cry.

Daniel and I had a bite to eat, then went to Jody’s small celebration party where we waited for local results. When they finally came in, a photographer for the Vancouver Sun snapped these shots of us.


And one of Jody’s campaign team sent this shot to me.


Ten years ago, we did everything we could to prevent Stephen Harper from becoming Prime Minister. It was an incredibly emotional experience to be part of such a large victory with a majority government, knowing that Harper was gone.

And before we left to go home, we asked our new MP for another photo while we told her how proud we were of her! She ran a clean, honest, and respectful campaign.

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Thank you, Jody, for your willingness to step forward and lead.

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Meeting Dr. Terry Wahls!

Posted by on Nov 03 2015 | Books, CCSVI/Neurovascular health, Events, MS, Presentations, Workshops. Media, Women in Leadership

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I had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Wahls at a conference held here last month, sponsored by the Canadian Neurovascular Health Society.

As soon as I heard she was speaking, I signed up. According to the conference organizer, I was the very first person to register. (For a nice summary of the conference, Joan Beal wrote up a post about it. Of course, that was another thrill for me — the chance to meet her! She is a true champion and very smart woman and I was really glad she attended.)

The day before she spoke, I found myself face to face with Dr. Wahls. I desperately wanted to know how to get across to people with MS that it’s worth trying her diet. She told me that I just need to accept the fact that some people are so attached to their foods and habits that they will resist. The best I can do is to encourage and set an example. But it continues to be very difficult for me to watch others in the MS community in decline while I continue to improve. No fatigue, able to work out, able to see clients again . . . I want this for everybody.

It was wonderful for her to have the chance to continue spreading the word about her own amazing story and others’ successes by following The Wahls Protocol.

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After the talk, Dr. Wahls had a book of The Wahls Protocol signing in the hallway. I had mentioned to the audience that we have a Wahls Protocol Support group in Vancouver, and I encouraged people to talk with me if they wanted more information. When I went out to the book signing, there was still a long lineup. I waited until the end so that I could talk with Dr. Wahls.

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Dr. Wahls was so generous with her time. She answered everybody’s questions thoroughly. I first mentioned to her that I had been in Marshfield, Wisconsin at the same time that she was there. She was a physician at Marshfield Clinic and I was doing my clinical fellowship.

I talked to her about the drug I have been taking for two years. The natural way to promote the antioxidant NRF2 pathways is through diet, exercise and stress reduction — all parts of The Wahls Protocol. I considered the side effects — which for me, were minimal — the recent cases of PML, and the recent discovery of the lymphatic system existing within the brain. After discussing a bit more with my husband, I decided to discontinue Tecfidera.

I bought another copy of her book and had it autographed. I’ll use this as a fundraiser or a gift for members of our local support group. I was really pleased to see how many of our group who attended the conference.

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I left the conference early as there was election work to be done . . .

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MS Walk 2015

Posted by on May 27 2015 | Events, MS, MS Walk, Women in Leadership


Well, activity in my life has picked up so much that I’m falling behind in the blog posts. We had our big successful MS Walk this past Sunday. The group that I started and facilitate for the MS Society formed a team and we raised more than the goal of $7,500 that I set in February. The $8,802 means our group will receive $880 for our group activities!

After my speech on March 31 at the WAMS event, Jody Wilson-Raybould offered to join the team. It was so great to have her at the walk too!. One of the photos published by the MS Society shows her and her campaign team member Lea with signs showing support for me! (You can see all the photos selected by the MS Society to represent the walk here.)


Fortunately, I know one of the volunteer photographers and she sent me a couple of additional shots of our team that I liked. (We had a volunteer take photos for us but I haven’t received them yet.)

We wore aprons as Wahls Warriors have to cook our own food to make sure we can control what we eat. I brought a big wooden spoon as part of my costume. And as a team captain, I got a nice baseball hat, like the one seen below. The woman wearing the hat is Stephanie Mosher, the MS Society staff person in charge corporate relations and of WAMS. She’s a lot of fun and we get along great. And it’s a really nice photo of her.

Team walking


The event started with a speech from my friend, Sarah Le Huray of team Making Lemonade. And the very end of the event, after the awards were given out, two of our Wahls Warriors crossed the finish line, almost unwitnessed except by me, Daniel and one other man, who cheered these two for their accomplishment of a 5 km walk. Ravina was the very last one and she crossed with her two sons. She told me she wouldn’t have been able to do this a few months ago!

MS Walk 2015 Ravina crop

So proud of you, Ravina!

Well done, Wahls Warriors!!!

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Letter from Joyce Murray, MP, and photos from WAMS

Posted by on Apr 10 2015 | Events, MS, Women in Leadership

MS Society photo

photo: MS Society

The MS Society published some photos on flickr from the WAMS event on March 31. While it’s nice to see that there are several photos of me and Daniel talking with people, there is only one distant shot of me speaking on the podium at the lectern. There would have been more but my photographer was busy filming my talk! I guess I was the low profile speaker. Note to self — bring two cameras . . .

Stephanie Mosher, Corporate Relations Specialist at the MS Society, and I spent a lot of time talking about the event. She did all the work organizing the event but we bounced ideas around. I suggested that since we would be holding the event in the federal riding of Vancouver Quadra, that a greeting from the Member of Parliament would be a nice gesture. As I have known Joyce Murray for several years, I offered to contact her office and see if she might be available. But as parliament was in session on that date, her assistant said that they would be able to provide a letter to be read at the event. So, we invited Jody Wilson-Raybould, the official liberal candidate for Vancouver Granville, to read the letter on behalf of Ms. Murray.

I thought the letter was really nice and I managed to get a copy of it. She mentioned visiting our Kitsilano Self-Help Group last year, as well as her personal connection to MS.


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WAMS BC Launch Reception

Posted by on Apr 01 2015 | Events, Facial Pain/Trigeminal Neuralgia, Health Care, MS, Presentations, Workshops. Media, Public Speaking, Videos & Webinars worth watching, Women in Leadership

I was invited to be one of the speakers at the BC Launch for Women Against MS, or WAMS. As 75% of people with MS are women, and Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, MS is a disease of Canadian Women.

I invited our local federal Liberal candidate, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to attend and present the welcome letter from Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra, the riding where the event took place. The letter that Ms. Murray wrote was thoughtful and moving, as she had a personal connection to MS and has visited MS groups, including a visit with our Kitsilano Group.

All in all, it was a successful launch. Other speakers were Karimah Es Sabar, President and CEO, Centre for Drug Research & Development, and Dr. Cornelia Laule, WAMS grant recipient.

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Dr. Laule brought all the researchers in attendance up on the stage with her. It was a really nice gesture as she described the important work they are all doing to help us.


I wore a few pieces of jewelry that represent hope that I put on as I got dressed. I had a ring from my mom, a teal bracelet from the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association of Canada (you can see it on my right wrist), starfish necklace and earrings from a special day with my husband, Daniel, and a pin in the front of my dress from the Evelyn Opal Society, who was one of the founders of the MS Society of Canada.

I also got a chance to reconnect with Sarah Le Huray and Lori Batchelor. I regret not getting a photo with Lori but Sarah was on the ball and came by to take a photo!


I’m pleased with how the evening went and I hope I get asked to speak again.

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Promoting WAMS at Surrey Women in Business Awards

Posted by on Mar 07 2015 | Events, MS, Women in Leadership


Stephanie Mosher, Corporate Relations Specialist of the MS Society, invited me to the Surrey Women in Business Awards, to help promote WAMS (Women Against MS) and to inform people of the upcoming launch on March 31, and the gala lunch in November. Justin Trudeau, leader of the Federal Liberal Party of Canada, was the guest speaker at the awards lunch. I was standing at our table when I glanced over at the doorway and noticed Justin walking slowly into the room. I caught his eye, approached him and introduced myself by saying I was a member of Team Jody, I have MS and would be be OK if I took a picture with him in front of our poster board. He was gracious and complied. I am really glad I managed to be the first one to get a photo as I couldn’t get close to him later on.

Earlier I had spoken with Hon. Penny Priddy, the only woman in Canada to be elected at all levels of government, from school board, municipal council, member of the provincial legislature and cabinet minister, and federal member of parliament. She and I knew each other from her years as the honourary co-chair of the Women’s Campaign School when I was president of the host organization, the Canadian Women Voters Congress. She was very interested in knowing how I was doing and what I was doing to maintain my health.

Hon. Penny Priddy

Hon. Penny Priddy

I continued to help promote the event and managed to get several photos with some local high-profile people. Many of them had connections with people who had MS, so it made conversation easy.

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I managed to get a photo with Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO of Vancity Credit Union, the major sponsor of the awards ceremony. She and I had met some years ago when I ran for the Vancity board of directors. And I asked Steve Darling of Global TV (and MC for the event) for a photo.


After the lunch, across the room, I spotted Vikram Vij, celebrity chef and member of Dragon’s Den. I told him I was a neighbour (we live about 5 blocks away from him) and I would love to have a photo with him. He was gracious and bowed to us after the photo.

There were some additional politicians there, including former MP, Sukh Dhaliwal, and federal candidate, Wendy Yuan.

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I am super-excited about the gala lunch in November to hear the speakers, Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk , creative campaign developers (Dove Real Beauty Campaign) and the leadership trainers of their company Swim.

But the best part about yesterday was feeling like I was in my element again.


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Funeral yesterday for former client

Posted by on Mar 06 2015 | Aphasia, Events, Speech-Language, Stroke

Wahls food funeral 025

Over the course of my working life, there were a few clients I’ll never forget. Sometimes it was because they presented challenges to me and taught me a lot. Other times it was because I was really able to work with the client, and often the family, to have an impact. Today, I thought about it and realized that there were seven of them in total. One of them died last week at the age of 89, two months shy of his 90th.

A few days ago, I was contacted by the daughter of this client I worked with almost ten years ago. She called to tell me her father had died and gave me details about the service. This was a special invitation and I was honoured to be asked.

In September, 2005, just after my dad died, I was contacted through my private practice to have an interview with a family who were interested in hiring a speech-language pathologist to work with their father while he was in the hospital, following a large stroke. It appears that a decision was made at the hospital to deny him rehabilitation because of his complex health needs and the type of aphasia he was left with following the stroke.

One piece of information I was able to provide them was to tell them not to allow him to be discharged or he would have no chance for rehabilitation. And the biggest challenge with the type of aphasia he had often meant that people would be admitted to extended care units and placed on dementia wards.┬áThe family had every intention of taking him home and were fortunate that they had the financial means to provide for him. (A few months before this meeting, I had quit a job in Vancouver Community health because I advocated for a man who had Wernicke’s aphasia and was locked up on a dementia ward — but that’s another story!)

This man was moved over to UBC hospital for sub-acute rehabilitation where he had one visit from the speech-language pathologist each week. The family hired me to visit him every day to assess and treat him. But the most valuable part of my work with the family was to teach them about aphasia, especially Wernicke’s aphasia, and to pay attention to his behavioural intelligence as it was evident to me at our first meeting.

The members of the family were amazingly strong and assertive, especially the eldest daughter. Over time, she and her mother insisted that people learn about aphasia and they made plans to bring him home once he was medically stable. Although it was challenging for the family in the past couple of months, they enjoyed his company at home for almost 10 years. He had the opportunity to see his grandchildren born and grow up a bit. He also was able to see his siblings and other relatives who lived overseas.

Yesterday at the funeral, I heard more about this man and his life. He had a multitude of near death experiences and with all of his health complications, he should not have lived to 60, let alone 90. But he had a stronger will to live than anybody I have ever met. And after his stroke, he greeted people with a big smile, and said “I love you” freely, even if they were not the exact words he wanted to say. The sentiment and the sincerity were there for all to see.

His two daughters shared the story of his life with the attendees at the funeral, and the amazing stories of his strength and survival. At the end, the eldest daughter wanted to thank four people who had made a difference in their father’s life, especially following the stroke. First was the family doctor of 40 years, then next I heard my name — I have to say I was so gobsmacked and moved to tears, that I didn’t hear who the third one was. The fourth was the nurse the family hired ten years ago and has helped them manage at home for all these years. It was nice to see her at the reception as we were both a big part of the transition from the hospital. She provided love and support to the whole family.

I went to the reception for a few minutes as I wanted to make sure I extended my greetings to the family. And I spent some time by the hearse to have a few words with this remarkable man.

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WAMS – Women Against MS

Posted by on Feb 21 2015 | Events, MS


Last fall, I had the pleasure of a meeting with the Director of Development for the MS Society, Danny De Souza, and Stephanie Mosher, Corporate Relations Specialist. We met over a cup of tea at a neighbourhood tea shop and before we knew it, we generated a lot of ideas for member involvement and how I could contribute to the organization.

Stephanie told me about Women Against MS, formed by a group of professional women in Ontario, who have been very successful in raising money to fund research, most notably a researcher here in Vancouver, Dr. Cornelia Laule.

Stephanie has taken on the project of developing a BC chapter of WAMS and has invited me to be one of the speakers at the Launch of the BC event on March 31.

Information on the BC Launch can be found on the website

I am a bit nervous about presenting with two very accomplished women. But I’ve asked some friends to come and I know with some friendly faces in the audience, I’ll be OK.

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