I wasn’t afraid of getting it done until about a week before the surgery. I started to get really anxious and aggravated. I guess I was scared. Would the surgery go ok? Would it be painful? What will it look like? Will I freak out when I see what I look like after having a breast removed? All these thoughts were swirling around in my head. I was trying my best to keep positive but it was really tough.
In 2002 I found a lump in my right breast during my daily self-examination in the shower. After getting the opinion of my husband and daughters, my next step was to see my family physician, Dr. Linda Ottley. This was in May. My daughters Debra and Zoe, my cousin Irene and I were told that there was a lump and I was to go for a biopsy and to see a specialist. After all the tests were completed, I learned that I had breast cancer (3.2cm), Grade 3 Stage 2.
I had had a lump in my right breast for some time. It had been diagnosed as a cyst. It had always behaved in a predictable manner in that it was somewhat painful with my cycle. I had my son in 2000 when I was almost 40 and it took me four years to realize that the “cyst” no longer became painful with my cycle. I had an ultrasound and although the cyst was still present, there was a suspicious lump beside it. I went for an aspirate, and then a biopsy. It came back as cancer. I was fortunate in that it was an early form of breast cancer called Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). However, when I heard the words I had no idea what it meant and only knew that I had cancer. My surgeon gave me a book to read, and I had a conversation with a friend of a friend who had gone through breast cancer herself. Halfway through the conversation I mentioned that I had DCIS and she said this changes everything and that I was one of the lucky ones. This all took place within 24 hours of getting the results of my biopsy. My options were lumpectomy and radiation or mastectomy. My son was only four years old at the time and the thought of surgery and the ensuing recovery were overwhelming. I decided to have the lumpectomy and radiation.
It has been eight years now and no recurrence. I go through moments, particularly when I’m going for my diagnostic mammograms, where the fear rears its ugly head. There were many times very soon after my treatment that I wished I had done the surgery since I still had my breasts and felt the risk would always be there. I remind myself that I made the right decision for me at that time. I was also very fortunate to have attended the Centre for Integrated Healing in Vancouver (which is now called Inspire Health). It really helped support me through my treatment and was truly inspirational.
I have walked and run in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure every year since my diagnosis with my sister and my mom. I didn’t want to wear a pink survivor shirt in the first few years – it felt too close and I was still a little raw. In the past three years, I have worn the pink shirt to show how many of us survivors are out there and how well we are doing. It is still very emotional, especially when I read all the reasons why everyone is participating but so very positive as well.
This year I plan to have my son join me.
I am 25 years old and was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 23. At this point in my life, I have endured eight rounds of chemotherapy, 29 radiation treatments and continue to receive treatment every three weeks. On Feb. 9, 2012, I had a complete bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. The way I look at it, “no cancer, new boobs.”
Over this past year, I have encountered many challenges, mostly emotional. Having to cope with the loss of the majority of my left breast, my hair, and my independence were the greatest struggles. However, I was able to find an inner strength through the love and support of my wonderful friends and family. This past July, my MRI showed that I was clear of any cancer cells.
Over twenty years ago, a courageous group of volunteers stepped forward to hold the first Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. But there is another story to be told – one in which some of those volunteers were also employees of one of the largest financial institutions in Canada: CIBC.
CIBC branch staff members were so passionate about the cause, that they approached its senior management team to advocate for greater involvement from all CIBC employees and CIBC – one of the main driving forces behind CIBC becoming the Title Sponsor of the CIBC Run for the Cure for more than 15 years. We continue to be grateful to those pioneering employees and to their leadership team for their unwavering support. They helped the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation build the largest single day breast cancer event in Canada, which last year alone raised more than $30 million to support our vision of creating a future without breast cancer.