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The Voice of People With Breast Cancer

Education

Our Voices Blog


Category : Stories

When Was the Last Time You Asked Yourself: Are You Okay?

I’ve been watching Harry & Meghan, the documentary series on Netflix. I’m not a royal’s buff or even a fan, well, except for Princess Diana (I thought she was great). No, I started watching the series for boredom’s sake, because I needed a new show. I figured that because I like docu-series and because I couldn’t watch what I really wanted to—the Kardashian’s new reality show because I don’t have Disney+—this was it. So, I clicked play and about five minutes into Episode 1, I was hooked.

I Only Wanted One Surgery, so I Chose AFC Reconstruction

This year 28,000 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer. On March 10th, 2022, I became one of those women. Disturbingly, within a month of my diagnosis, two more of my close friends received their breast cancer diagnoses. In total, I have 15 close friends and counting who are either breast cancer survivors, or who are currently battling breast cancer. This silent epidemic seems to be growing at an extraordinary pace.

Holiday Cheer?

Let me just start by saying, while writing, that I’m not a Grinch. I promise. That said, Christmas is not my favourite holiday. (Thanksgiving is, because it’s all about the gratitude, mashed potatoes and turkey.) Yet, after my breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment, the only place I wanted to be for the holidays was with my family in Calgary. Being single and dealing with breast cancer’s day-to-day stressors alone, by myself with my cat, was overwhelming. So, my post-cancer-treatment Christmas was probably one of the most stress-free I’ve ever experienced. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have to make one decision for a solid week, that my family loved on me or because I didn’t cook a single meal, I don’t know. But it worked and when I returned to Toronto, despite the brain fog and Tamoxifen madness, I felt lighter.

Humour in Times of Crisis pt. 2 - Excerpts from Angel in the Marble

The minute you get a cancer diagnosis, you start looking for the magic cure. For me, this meant researching the hell out of the disease and revamping my lifestyle, exercise regime, spiritual practice, and diet. Within days, I knew the latest cancer breakthroughs and snake oil salesman’s remedy for the problem. And I took on the task of miraculous cure (and possible canonization) with a vengeance. Turmeric was the new gold standard. I popped four pills a day and drank Indian golden milk and turmeric lemon tea morning, noon, and night. My skin oozed Trumpian orange, my countertops glowed with permanent yellow stains, and man, did I feel good. I knocked back shots of apple cider vinegar chased by pomegranate juice. I downed hemp hearts, chia, flax, and bee pollen. My daughter Sonja arrived one day with the Holy Grail—a Vitamix— and it became my cauldron, a sacred vessel for preparing healing concoctions laced with kale, ginger, blueberries, and coconut water.

Fact: When I Look Good, I Do Feel Better

Growing up, every time I passed a mirror I would pause and stare at my reflection. I got busted for it too. A lot. My mom and aunties told me it wasn’t nice to look at myself, that it was vain or to cut it out—sometimes they said all three statements at the same time. To be clear, I wasn’t always admiring myself, I mean sometimes I was, but after I turned 12 and went to junior high school, my covert glances were more about me feeling insecure than anything else. I had to make sure I didn’t look weird, that my bobbed hair was tucked behind my left ear just so or that my highly Ten-O-Sixed skin wasn’t shining like a too-bright light. I was looking because I needed to reassure myself that I looked good. That I was good enough.

Why I Hate it When People Ask, “Are You Finished Treatment?”

I found a lump in April 2021 and a week later had a biopsy on my underarm and breast; on May 3, 2021, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was diagnosed Stage IV de novo by my oncologist after a single mastectomy on May 21, 2021. It was very difficult to hear the words “you have cancer”; it is a shock and something you never want to hear. I didn’t choose to have chemotherapy or radiation treatment; instead, I’m taking Ibrance and Letrozole.

Support Matters. How You Can Support Yourself & Other Breasties

During treatment, when I laid on the couch or in bed recuperating, I found support in a promise to seek and find more joy and purpose in my life once I resurfaced from feeling deep, deep under water. I kept it too, by returning to coaching competitive synchronized swimming athletes after a near 20-year hiatus from the sport. This has been incredibly rewarding. Along with the support of joy it continues to give me, coaching allows me to focus my energy and attention on others instead of on myself and to give back and support a community of young athletes I believe in very much.

We Are Not Counted

I am writing this from my hospital bed. One of many cancer-related hospital stays and visits. This hospital has become my second home. Fortunately, it’s a great hospital. That doesn’t mean I want to spend a lot of time here though. But that is inevitable when you have metastatic breast cancer, otherwise known as mBC. That is Stage IV cancer. Cancer that has travelled outside the breast and has metastasized into other areas of the body. 

Breast Cancer at 36

I had a few benign tumors (Fibroadenomas) that I would check every six months via ultrasound, and I had one lump which was classified as benign and was told it was nothing to worry about. Three months after my last ultrasound, this lump grew very quickly and became painful. I went back for another ultrasound three months earlier than suggested, and it showed the lump was changing and growing extremely fast. I had a biopsy on June 8, 2022.

60 to 0 in Seconds - Being a Breast Cancer Patient

I am a woman. I am active. I am a mom. I am also living with metastatic breast cancer, and I am living well. I have been active all my life. I played a variety of sports ever since I was little, like competitive fastball and hockey. So, how could a super active, fit, and healthy individual, with no breast cancer or any other type of cancer in her family, all of a sudden be told she has stage IV breast cancer?