What school did you attend? Lord Tweedsmuir, Douglas College, University Of British Columbia.
Do you work? I am still off work (work as a Recreation Therapist and Personal Trainer).
What are your career goal(s)? To become an inspirational speaker and write a book.
How did you find out you were sick? What event(s) led to the diagnosis? I have twins that just turned two in March 2010. I always carried them on my right side (on my hip) and when they leaned against me I could feel a lump in my right breast.
What year was it? What was your age at the time? It was May/June 2009 when I felt the lump and August the 3, 2009, when I was diagnosed. I was 35.
At what level of education were you at diagnosis? University degree.
What was your diagnosis? Stage two, triple negative breast cancer.
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed? I was sure it was a dream!
How did your family react? My brothers were shocked and my parents shut down emotionally. My husband has been and still is amazing!
How did your friends react? Were you treated any different?
I pretty much got a full on education in a very short time. I became very task oriented (as I already am) and got everything organized. Yes, I was treated differently. People liked the “poor Shannon” words. I emailed everyone and asked them to be positive and make me laugh when they saw me! It worked!
What did your treatment consist of?
The point form list below is my team. I used a combination of alternative medicine versus conventional medicine. This really worked for me and I felt that I got amazing care. Part of the reason I got amazing care was because I made sure of it! My outlook was the whole person approach!
- Dr. Strovski – GP
- Joe Haegert – Friend and ER Doctor
- Rhonda Janzen – General Surgery
- Dr. Adrian Lee – Reconstructive Surgery
- Dr. Sasha Smiljanic – Oncologist
- Dr. Janice Wright – MD at Inspire Health
- Dr. Alison Vandekerkhove – Naturopathic Physician
- Martin Phillips-Hing – Psychologist
- Dr. Alison Vanderkerkhove – Acupuncturist
- Barb Harris – Massage Therapist
- Lee Chamberland – Life Coach
- Lisa Marie Bhattacharya (Whitaker) – Registered Holistic Nutritionist
- Callanish Society
- Helping Hands
- Other survivors – three girls I knew through work and friends. Amazing to have them there to talk to when you needed them.
- Martin Simpson – Husband, friend, fireman, business owner, father of twins, and the most amazing person I know.
In which Hospital(s) were you treated? Surrey Hospital and Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.
What is your current medical status? Cancer free!
How is life different for you now post diagnosis (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually)? Physically I am still getting used to my new boobs, I am tired and I am not as strong as I used to be (not yet)! Emotionally I am doing pretty good. I have been seeing my psychologist and going to the Callanish Society support groups. It has been a roller coaster of emotion for sure! Socially I am starting to get back out. I still have no hair and hope to be feeling my social self by summer time. Spiritually I have most changed for sure. I take more time for me (going for walks and loving me), I worry less, love my family and friends more, learning to meditate and breathe and share my new passions with anyone who wants to listen.
What was the toughest part of your challenge? Trying to be a mother to my two-year-old twins and watching my husband trying to do everything and recovering from two broken hands.
What was the best part about having your challenge? Learning to appreciate what is really important in life at such a young age.
What really motivated you to keep going while you were/are sick? My husband and my twins (Abigail and Nolan).
What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience? Small things are really small. Use your resources, ask for help, love yourself and surround yourself with positive people.
What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now? How have they changed since before your diagnosis? I never thought I was going to die. The minute I was diagnosed I thought, “who do I need to call? Let’s get this cancer out!” Now that I just finished my chemo I still feel the same. I am a much better, smarter person because of all this. My kids (family and friends) are also going to benefit from my experience.
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? Eat Organic! Take care of yourself (the whole person). Mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. Enjoy life now! Don’t live to work! Work to live!
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge? If so, what was it like? I did not like the local group. I found the women to be much older and not dealing with the same things I was.
Did you find it helped? I went to the Callanish Society (still do) and they are amazing. I did a week long retreat with them that changed my life. Really!
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada? Through the Callanish Society.
How did it happen? I am going to the YACC retreat in May 2010 with my husband. Can’t wait!
What are your thoughts/feelings on Young Adult Cancer Canada?
Don’t know too much about them (yet) but I am sure I will know a lot more by the end of the retreat. The fact that they are associated with Callanish means they must be good.
Learn more about Shannon on her blog, Shannon’s Tool Box!