When I was told I had cancer, I think I was in shock for two years. Everything happened so quickly from being diagnosed to having surgery two weeks later to having chemo a month after that. Radiation followed chemo, I had my ovaries removed, and then I started 10 years of hormone therapy. I experienced almost every side effect.
I wasn’t prepared for the pain from the three-year recovery from the double mastectomy with reconstruction using my stomach or from chemo and the burns and holes on my body from radiation. I also wasn’t prepared for the mental pain from financial struggles and distance from family members, best friends, and my partner of 15 years. I wasn’t prepared to have my whole life turned upside down and inside out.
January 2017 was the beginning of my depression. I was in heart failure and my world was crashing down around me. I was sitting at my expressive art class and the teacher gave me a flyer for YACC’s Big Cancer Hook-up. I was the only young adult in the class.
This event changed my life. I was instantly connected to a group of young adults who felt the same as I did. We didn’t want that evening to end, so we put our heads together and a year later, we had an official Localife chapter in Winnipeg with over 90 members!
I have been to two Survivor Conferences, Retreat Yourself BC, and I’m one of now three Localife Winnipeg leaders. YACC has helped me tackle depression and isolation through workshops on how to thrive after diagnosis, and by connecting me to hundreds of young adults dealing with cancer across Canada.
I am so incredibly honoured to be one of 15 Yacctivists. My mission is to #findthe21. Twenty-two young adults are diagnosed every day in Canada, but YACC only hears from one new person each day. I want to continue to help pull others from the isolation that cancer causes. I want to incite change the medical world with how they treat young adults prior to and post diagnosis. You are not too young for cancer. There is no good cancer. Don’t settle for letting real symptoms be brushed off as anxiety.
Every cancer, every stage, YACC’s got your back.
Diagnosis: Stage 2 grade 3 triple positive invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer
Age at diagnosis: 30
AROUND THE WEB:
- Andrea’s survivor profile
- Andrea’s YACCtivist blog posts
- “The magic of storytelling: A chat with Andrea Whittle” on Soar Above Cancer
- Cancer rates among young Canadians on the rise (November 18, 2019 – CBC)
- Young mother finds support at YACC (September 26, 2019 – CTV News Winnipeg)