Do you work? Yes, as a Medical Assistant at Appletree Medical Group
What are your career goal(s)? To stay working in the medical field, mentor children/teens living with cancer and whatever else comes my way.
How did you find out you were sick? What event(s) led to the diagnosis?
I’m a childhood cancer survivor so I was at a yearly follow up appointment when the doctor noticed the lump on my right breast. I had a biopsy and mammogram done.
What year was it? What was your age at the time? 2007 and I was 28 years old
At what level of education were you at diagnosis? I was working
What was your diagnosis? Breast cancer
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed? Shock, disbelief, couldn’t believe that I would be going through cancer for a second time before I was 30 years old.
How did your family react?They were shocked but were/are the best supporters and they knew I had beaten it once before I could do it again.
How did your friends react? Were you treated any different?
They were shocked as well but didn’t treat me any different. Some of them talked to me about it but others weren’t sure how to go about it.
What did your treatment consist of?
I had six treatments of chemo over 18 weeks (3 taxotere, 3 FEC-the little red devil is what the doctors and nurses called it), a biopsy, lumpectomy and mastectomy. I was an out patient for everything.
To be honest I didn’t really think about things that much, I just did what I had to do. There were times where I was sick, tired, bummed about what I was going through but just stayed positive and strong.
In which Hospital(s) were you treated? Ottawa General and Civic Hospital
What is your current medical status? In remission, YAY!!!!!
How is life different for you now post diagnosis (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually)?
I look at life totally different now. I don’t sweat the small stuff; I think positively, live everyday to the fullest, laugh, live in the now and do things that I’ve always wanted to do. Physically, nothing much has changed, less energy but I’m slowly getting that back. I’m much more social now and I attend as many conferences and retreats that I can; I’m also starting a young women’s support group in Ottawa. I changed my way of thinking, started thinking and taking care of me first.
What was the toughest part of your challenge? The toughest part, hmmmm, probably just to feel “normal.” My body has changed and sometimes that can be tough but I just sit back and think that I am alive and all that physical stuff really does not matter.
What was the best part about having your challenge? The best part of my challenge is meeting amazing people that have really inspired me, feeling that I can do anything and to just live life.
What really motivated you to keep going while you were/are sick?
My friends, family and myself. I just thought that this wasn’t going to defeat me. I knew that everything was going to be alright and I was alive. My family was always there, they shaved their heads, they did a 12 hour relay with me, they never treated me like I was sick.
What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience?
I would have to say that no matter what you have to live everyday to the fullest. Try to turn the negatives into positives. Live in the now, don’t think what if just do it. You have beaten cancer, nothing is too big for you to accomplish or achieve.
What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now? How have they changed since before your diagnosis?
My thoughts are that I’ve beaten it, nothing has really changed, and I’m going to take everything in strides whatever comes my way I will take it on full force.
What are some (if there are any you know of) preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours?
Monthly breast exams and just know your body and if there is anything that seems out of the ordinary get it checked.
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge? No
If you did not attend a support group, why? I felt like I didn’t need it.
Would you if one had been available? Possibly
Do you think attending one would have helped you? Not necessarily, I had my own support group, my family and friends.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada? I became connected by contacting Karine after I received a pamphlet at a childhood cancer survivor conference.
How did it happen? By email
What are your thoughts/feelings on Young Adult Cancer Canada? I think its awesome, I finally found a group that I can share my story and people can relate.