Hometown: St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
What are your thoughts/feelings on Young Adult Cancer?
The success of this organization is mainly due to the awesome person that Geoff is. He is so inspiring; you can’t help but catch his contagious energy. The organization is VERY focused on its target and is constantly trying to find news ways to reach out to them. This clear focus on such a HUGE health issue such as cancer allows the success to be quite sustainable in the future.
What school did/do you attend?
What is/are your career goal(s)?
To become a corporate lawyer.
Your Cancer experience
Who did you support with cancer?
How did you find out about the cancer? What event(s) led to the diagnosis?
I found out through my mom. I had just gotten home from work around 11pm and came into the den to check my email. My parents had their friends over which was nothing out of the ordinary. After they left, dad went upstairs and mom came into the den and told me. Events were primarily routine blood tests which I normally didn’t pay any attention to. My dad was always going to the doctor for some reason or another. I really didn’t pay attention to it. I just thought it was another routine blood test for his cholesterol or something. Cancer was the last thing on my mind. It wasn’t even within the realm of possibility. It truly came out of nowhere.
What year was it? How old were you?
Sept. 1999, I was 18.
What kind of cancer was he/she first diagnosed with?
He was diagnosed with breast cancer and it spread to the lymph nodes under his left armpit.
What were your first thoughts when you found out about the diagnosis?
Most of the thought I had dealt with the future and him not being in it which scared me so much. Will he survive? Will he see me convocate from university, will he walk me down the aisle when I get married? I just mainly felt how empty my life would be without him.
How did your family react?
Total shock and disbelief. It just didn’t make any sense. My dad is a very healthy person and I just didn’t see how something like this could happen to him.
How did your friends react? Did your friends begin treating you different?
Again. total shock. Word got around town pretty fast and everyone had the same reaction of complete shock and disbelief. My friends were absolutely incredible. They did not treat me differently and were a huge reason why I was able to get through the whole experience. They were very supportive and didn’t treat me differently. Everyone that knew us just showed genuine concern for my dad and my family.
How did you support him/her with cancer?
Trying to keep our lives as normal as possible. I couldn’t go to the chemo sessions. It was just too much. My mom was there with him through EVERYTHING and to this day she still goes to every doctor’s appointment with him. Our family became a lot tighter and we just supported each other through everything. It’s amazing how much you can support someone by just believing.
What resources would you have liked to avail of personally since his/her diagnosis?
I know that if I had any questions, there are a number of people out there who can answer them for me. It’s great to just establish your own network of people that can address any issues you may have.
Do you know what the treatment consisted/consists of?
Describe the medical side (chemo, radiation, in-patient, out-patient)
Surgery, then 4 sessions of aggressive chemo followed by 30 days of radiation treatment and oral medication.
In which Hospital(s) was he/she treated?
St. Clare’s for the surgery and the Cancer Center for his chemo/ radiation treatment.
What was the outcome?
He’s been in remission for 5 years! 🙂
How is life different for you now that you have had a cancer experience?
I’m a lot more relaxed. I look at life completely differently. I seek out positive life experiences where I have plenty of opportunities to learn new things. I seek out love and support a lot more then I used to. I’m still a pretty independent person, but maintaining positive relationships with the people I care about is a top priority. The smallest thing used to stress me out and since dad had cancer, I’ve just let things fall where they come. The things that are most important in life rise to the top. I definitely do not take my life or my family for granted and I’m a lot happier and content with the little things in life that give you pleasure.
What was the hardest thing about adjusting to life after a cancer diagnosis?
We had a positive outcome so there really hasn’t been any difficulty. I look out for dad a lot more then I used to. Asking how his doctor’s appointments are going etc. When we go golfing I’m always making sure he’s wearing sunscreen. I think it’s just time consuming being more proactive but it’s not difficult when the outcome is a happy and fulfilling life! 🙂
What is/was the toughest part of having a cancer experience?
Watching someone you love fight for their life and the people they love.
What is/was the best part about having a cancer challenge?
Our family became closer then I thought possible.
What really motivated you to keep going while he/she was sick?
My dad. I knew he didn’t want my life to be different so he just wanted me to live my life as normally as I could. That made him happy. Go to class, go out with my friends and do well in school. I was more motivated to study then I ever had been because I wanted him to be proud of me.
What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Always take time to stop and smell the roses. 🙂
What are your thoughts and feelings about cancer now? How has your perception changed since before you were faced with a challenge?
It’s no small thing, but with something as ugly and as horrible as cancer, many MANY good things come from it. You learn so much so fast that you probably couldn’t learn otherwise.
What are some (if there are any you know of) preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience?
Just taking care of yourself as much as you can. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Know yourself you body etc. Make frequent visits to your doctor for check ups etc. in the event you are diagnosed that you can catch it early. In short, be healthy and know your body inside and out. Knowledge is power!
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
No. I had my family and friends for any support I needed.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer?
Geoff Eaton is amazing. A true inspiration! I’ve heard him speak on numerous occasions and I also participated in the Young Adult Cancer Climb with a group of Newfoundlanders while I was in Ireland in the fall of 2003!