Since interviewing her for a Wellness Almanac column, I’ve developed a very soft spot for Riva Fisher. (I mean, the tattoo, for starters. So I’ve hassled her a few times to do a takeover for us… I admit to a certain degree of gentle persistence. But I’m just curious about her take on life, given what struck me as an incredible personality. Happily, in early May, she was going to be home in Pemby, and agreed to take me on. Here’s her recap of a week in charge of the Wellness Almanac.)
by Riva Fisher
I declined the offer the first few times Lisa asked if I wanted to be the new “guestagrammer” for the Wellness Almanac. Showcasing my personal sense of wellness seemed a little absurd on weeks when my schedule was dictated by chemotherapy appointments, surgery recovery, and gauging my body’s reaction to whatever newly-prescribed chemical I’d taken that day. I’d been following the Wellness Almanac since its initial burst into the social media scene, and had no desire to bring down the high bar of impressiveness that Pemberton’s finest had already set. I was also living in Vancouver, and it didn’t really make sense to document my life in the city, when the whole point of the Almanac (and its predecessor, the Winds of Change) was to explore life in Pemberton and Mt.Currie.
Hello dear friends of the Wellness Almanac, and Happy Easter! My name is Riva Fisher and I'm so looking forward to sharing my week with you. I grew up in the little fairytale dreamland that is Pemberton, and am now in the midst of moving back in with mom and dad after finishing up a Communications degree at SFU last spring. I've been living in East Vancouver since 2011, wandering around with my beloved pooch (the Lady #portermarmalade and my dear, sweet husband Mat (who you can now find brewing beer at @coastmountainbeer ). I've spent my time travelling to all sorts of wonderful places around the world, wasting endless hours on the internet, and gobbling up all the good food and great concerts my wallet would allow. Unfortunately, I've also been undergoing treatment for a brain tumour since 2010, and recent developments on that front have pushed me to the realization that as exciting as the city has been, #pembylife is definitely where it's at.
But then I started to lose control of the left side of my body. My tumour had decided that life was going too well for me, and thought it was time to start growing again— this time even deeper into the motor cortex than before. It came as a slight foot drag, then turned into a limp, and eventually it moved into my arm. I started using a cane to get around. I moved back in with my parents (where, coincidentally, my husband had already been living for months). My life had been turned upside down, but my support system was incredible, and I felt (sort of) OK. It had become fairly clear that the endless barrage of cancer related excuses were exactly that—endless. If it wasn’t one thing, it would be another. So with Lisa steady at her post as the “lingering feeling of guilt in the back of [my] mind”, I said yes. And I’m so glad I did.
As small a responsibility as posting photos for 450ish people is, it felt really nice to have some box to check off in my day. It also felt great to step back and take a look at the seemingly trivial things I was doing, and say, “oh maybe that would make a good post”, or “hey that’s actually pretty neat”. One of the most difficult things about my experience with cancer is the fact that I can’t really hold down a job, and staying at home while the rest of the world is out working and building their careers can make you feel pretty useless. At the very least, posting to the Almanac gave me something creative to spend some time on; and all those sweet, sweet ‘likes’ pouring in sure can boost the ol’ self esteem machine.
Other times, feeling obligated to post something felt like a real hassle. The first few days I was down at my family cabin at Lillooet Lake, celebrating the resurrection of the Lord with mimosas and chips and basking in the modern luxury that is being without cell reception. As much as I love photographing these sorts of get-togethers, the added need to immediately post it to social media had a certain element of moral reprehension that at times made me feel entirely uncomfortable. The cabin is a sacred space. It is a space without electricity or year round running water, and only when desperation calls for it, you can usually find a cell signal at the end of the dock. Having to be constantly in search of that signal, and therein connected to the outside world, was a total nuisance. On the other hand, using it as an excuse to step back and appreciate how fortunate I am to be in such an incredible place, or a reason to go out in the canoe, or even just to take a quick break while figuring out the best filter to accentuate the lake’s glacial green tint, was a really nice addition to the weekend.
After 3 surgeries, 6 weeks of daily radiation, and countless rounds of different chemotherapy treatments, letting people see- let alone touch my hair has been a rare and stressful experience (though it has led to a really wicked hat collection). Today I went to @mountainroseparlour for a much needed cut, and Lindsay made me feel right at home in her gorgeous little shop. I didn't get a great photo while I was in there, so I borrowed this sketch from their insti feed instead * * Drawing by local artist #susiecipolla
In the end, I was sad to give up my week as the Wellness Almanac’s guestagrammer. There had been so much build up and then suddenly it was over. It was disappointing how many less notifications my phone would get after I signed out, and I realized I hadn’t posted all the (possibly) great ideas I’d had while gearing up to takeover. Still, it was a nice exercise in learning to appreciate the little things, and a great confidence boost.
I’m not up to as much as I’d like to be right now, but all things considered, I’m doing just fine.