Erna (far left) pictured with her family and celebrity chef Corbin Tomaszeski at a pre-event for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown

Erna Vitullo is a breast cancer survivor who has also spoken about her journey at past Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation events

On June 23, 2010 I noticed a lump in my breast. I called St. Michael’s hospital that night and within no time I had my appointment. After going through all the tests, they confirmed I had Stage 1 Class C breast cancer that was already aggressive, but contained. This was during the summertime and the hospital told me that I might have to wait for surgery. I wanted it removed right away – luckily they had a cancellation and on Aug. 16, 2010 I had my surgery.

The real journey began when I started my chemo treatments. I completed them from Sept. 15 – Dec. 22, because I wanted to be finished before Christmas. I also received 21 days of radiation treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital. This time was challenging but I told myself to be strong and keep smiling no matter what I had to go through. I kept my normal routine: getting up early every morning with my two sons, going out driving and running errands. The hope and strength I received from family and friends helped me pull through this tough time.

I believe you should never give up hope. I know that is easier said than done, but you have to instil faith in yourself to feel it.

I am thankful for all the support I received from family and friends and from the doctors and nurses at St. Michael’s Hospital and the radiologist at Princess Margaret Hospital. I am also thankful for all the fundraising for the breast cancer cause. I have been a participant and fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure in the past. I believe that if it not for the fundraising towards research, we would not be this advanced in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Most of all, I am thankful for being alive and I take each day as it comes.