Back in the ‘90s, my grandmother passed away from breast cancer. I saw her go through the whole thing. Ever since, I’ve done monthly self-checks. I always advocate for other women to do so, too. On December 22nd of last year, I was doing my self-check and felt a hard lump. Going into the walk-in clinic and then for the mammogram, I was hopeful, but I had a bad feeling. After an ultrasound, biopsy, and X-ray, it was confirmed that it was indeed cancer in my left breast. Despite my instincts telling me this was coming, it was still crushing news. You really don’t want to hear those words: “Yes, you have cancer.” My husband and I sat in the doctor’s office crying.
Right now, I’m going through chemotherapy. After, I’ll be having a single mastectomy and reconstruction, and then radiation. Chemo has been a rollercoaster. I’ve had days when I’m tired and really emotional and weepy, and then I have days when I’m energetic, out doing my gardening and walking the dog. We live in New Brunswick in a subdivision, surrounded by nature, and it’s really beautiful here. I love going on hikes and seeing all the wildlife – loons and geese and blue herons. We saw a coyote walk across the lake in the winter, and we have some muskrats and a beaver, and otters and tons of deer. I love living here.
My parents and siblings are all in Ontario, as are my husband’s family. Being away from family during this time has been hard.
I’ve tried hard to maintain a sense of normalcy for my kids. We’re a family of six – three girls, one boy, my husband and I, plus a dog and two cats. One thing I’ve done that has really helped is the cold capping system1 – because of it, I haven’t lost much of my hair or my eyebrows. I don’t look as sick for my kids2 – but they’re still aware of the seriousness of my diagnosis. My youngest, my 11-year-old son, has been hugging and kissing me a lot more, and he shared that he was worried about me. We had a talk about that.
Attending a Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) workshop has really helped with that feeling of normalcy, too. My mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor as well, and she recommended it to me. I don’t wear a lot of makeup to begin with so I wasn’t very confident in my application, and I figured if I’m going to lose my eyebrows, I want to be prepared and to know how to draw them in. I followed along during the workshop, doing my makeup while the instructor showed detailed close-ups of how to do the different steps. I found that so helpful.
The LGFB workshop helped me regain a sense of control – and also a boost of confidence. When I’m feeling down, now I’ll put on a bit of red lipstick and it’s the perfect little pick-me-up – even if I’m just going to see a friend or walking my dog. It helps me feel like I’m still living my normal life, before cancer.
Life still feels very busy for me these days – I’ve got a lot going on. My 13-year-old daughter needs braces and glasses, and COVID is still going on, and some days it just feels like it’s been one thing after another. Having some peace of mind is greatly treasured right now. I’ve been turning to meditation, listening to music and playing the guitar, fishing on the lake, hiking, and cuddling my awesome pets.
My neighbours and friends have also been amazing. Everyone came together to support me and my family, and I felt this incredible sense of community. That really stood out. We can’t do this alone. And LGFB has been an important piece of that sense of community for me.
1. Click here to read more about cool capping systems, on page 46 in the LGFB magazine.
2. Click here to read more about How to Talk to Kids about Cancer, on page 24 in the LGFB magazine.