What is your Spiritual Practice?

I recently watched an interview on Oprah, and in the interview, she said that she often asks people, “what is your spiritual practice?. She describes that many times, the other person would get caught off guard and will maybe get a little defensive, saying, “well, I’m not religious or anything.” This is an interesting question because Oprah goes on to say that she didn’t ask them what their¬†religion is.¬†Spirituality is not necessarily related to religious practices. In modern definitions, it means the transformational process of oneself. We can think of this as self-growth, or aiming for meaningful experiences. In other words, Oprah simply meant “what do you do to take care of your body and your mind?Continue reading

What I’ve learned from cancer.

Yesterday, I finally submitted my thesis. It’s hard to believe that this is really the end of my 2 year M.Sc. experience. As much as I want to talk about the fun stuff, like the dramas at the lab and all the struggles and triumphs, I feel like there is something more pressing to say; something that really struck me a while back. I’m going to talk about cancer. Cancer is a broad topic and there is a lot I can say about what I’ve learned. My master’s project involved breast cancer genomics and chemotherapy resistance. I’ve learned so much about the different types of breast cancer and gene mutations. However,¬† I won’t talk about what I’ve learned about cancer. I will share about what I’ve learned from cancer. Aside from the nitty gritty details, cancer is a much bigger picture. There is a really weird feeling to be working for a supervisor who is also a breast surgeon. In our lab, we deal with many patient biopsies, blood and surgical samples. The identity of these patients are confidential and are always labeled simply by a code. We talk and discuss about their cases professionally, as we should, but by being exposed to this everyday, sometimes it slips my mind that these are actual women. Women out there who are currently struggling, or whom have already passed away. Women who are mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters; women who have people they love and are loved in return. When I make the journey to the breast clinic at the Jewish General, I see so many people in the waiting room looking just like you and me. You couldn’t even tell they have cancer. Continue reading

Runner’s Itch?

This summer, I picked up on jogging, originally just for the fun of it. I have horrible endurance and I run out of breath quickly so the first few times were not so pleasant. But the more I jogged, the more I felt myself improve and I got a bit hooked on to going for a run after work. One fine evening, I went out for a quick run near a small lake and I noticed that my lower shin started to itch on both legs. I sat down by a bench and just couldn’t stop scratching it! I thought it must be some allergies from the plants. The itchiness was intense and persisted for a good few days before it subsided. It felt like mosquito bites all over my lower leg, but when I look at it, my legs look fine. No rashes, no abnormal spots, no redness. Just my skin. Continue reading

Sleep Walker

Sleeping is a very interesting phenomena that refreshes the mind and feels so freaking good. It re-energizes by putting us into a state of reversible unconsciousness and muscle paralysis. But while we are resting peacefully, our brain is most active at this time. The only part that shuts off is the logic center. It’s no wonder we dream of things that make no sense — our brain is firing off like mad with no reasoning filter. We can all relate to this. However, there is a sub population that are, or have been, sleepwalkers, and yes, I was one of them. I think this happens because the motor muscles fail to shut off. So the envisioning in the brain is translated directly into body movement. Many kids who sleepwalk grow out of it because their brain eventually learns how to properly paralyze the muscles. Fortunately, I grew out of mine a long time ago. Continue reading

Floss

Everyone knows the dental routine: brush twice a day and floss once a day. As I’m sure we all brush our teeth, it’s alarming to see how hard it is to convince some people to floss. I’m not a dentist or anything, but I honestly think that flossing protects the teeth better than brushing. It can clean out places between your teeth that your tooth brush and saliva cannot reach. And trust me, there are a lot of stuff in there that isn’t visible on the surface, but you will see it on your floss. It will surprise you how much your toothbrush is incapable of cleaning, and these are the areas that cause the main damage to your gums — not the plaques sticking to the outside of your teeth. Continue reading