City: Torbay, NL
What was your diagnosis?
Stage 2 Lobular and Ductal Carcinoma of the breast
What year was it? What was your age at the time?
2014; I was 35.
What is something you’ve done that you’re really proud of?
I finally built up the courage to blog about my cancer journey and its effect on my family life.
What is a top item on your life to do list?
To help other women who are going through similar experiences as me.
What are your hobbies?
-Entertaining my four children
What was your life like before your diagnosis?
Normal; I was a homemaker raising my four children.
How did you find out you were sick? What led to your diagnosis?
A regular pap test and breast exam. I didn’t have any symptoms.
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
“I don’t want to die, I don’t want my children to grow up without a mother.”
In which hospital were you treated?
Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Center, St. John’s NL
What did your treatment consist of?
Left breast Mastectomy, lymph node dissection, right breast lumpectomy, and sentinel node dissection. I had a port-a-cath where I received six rounds of chemo, 29 radiations, and 18 rounds of Herceptin.
I was really emotional; it took almost two years before my emotions subsided. Physically I was very weak. Once I finished chemo, my energy levels came back within four weeks. I experienced memory loss, lost my hair and eyebrows, gained 30lbs, cried all the time, vomited occasionally, lost my sense of taste, and experienced a little loss in eyesight.
What is your current medical status?
April 22, 2016 will be my two-year anniversary of being cancer free.
Life after cancer:
How is life different for you now post diagnosis?
I fell into a depression, developed anxiety, and took panic attacks. I also found it hard to socialize.
What is the toughest part about having cancer as a young adult?
Having to watch my children watch me go through such a tough time in my life. They had to take care of me when I should be the one taking care of them.
What really helped/helps you to keep going while you were/are sick?
My family and friends. Also, knowing that there was going to be light at the end of the tunnel.
What kept you/keeps you busy during treatment?
Having friends or family accompany me and sharing stories and laughing. Laughing definitely helped!
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada? How did it happen?
I am currently coordinating a Shave for the Brave in my town.
Did you feel isolated from your peers since your diagnosis?
Did anyone talk to you about fertility options before treatment?
Yes, but fertility didn’t seems to be an issue — I am pregnant!
Has your cancer diagnosis affected any of the relationships in your life? If so, how, and how are you managing them?
I grew closer to some family, I realized the people you can count on. I had to work on issues with family members that chose not to help during one of the most difficult times in my life. My marriage broke apart shortly after treatment.
If you have children, how has your diagnosis affected the way you parent? Do you have any tips for other parents on talking to their children?
I felt guilty disciplining the kids. I wanted to be more loving and spend more time with them doing whatever they wanted.
How has your cancer experience affected your body image, and your relationship to your body?
I had difficulty with my body. I found it hard to accept my “new” body, but with a little counselling, I learned to love myself and my body. This is the new me!
What are some lifestyle changes you’ve made since your diagnosis?
I eat healthier, exercise more, and embrace everything around me.
Resources and recommendations:
What are your favourite blogs and websites for passing the time?
I write for my blog, myunexpectedjourney2016.wordpress.com.
Stay in touch:
Are you interested in helping others facing cancer challenges?
Yes! You can reach me by email or phone.
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