Last spring, Katie was playing soccer when she got elbowed in her left breast. Reacting to the hit, she brought her hand to her chest – instantly feeling a lump. At only thirty-years-old, cancer was not something that crossed Katie’s mind. She was concerned about the lump, but she assumed it had formed because of the trauma to the area from her soccer injury.
Katie credits the internet for this assumption. She encourages other women to trust their instincts, know their bodies and “please, do not under any circumstances search something online before going to get it checked out!”
Over the next couple months, the lump grew larger, harder and had started to feel painful. At the urging of a friend, Katie went to the hospital to get it checked out. Within a few hours she had an ultrasound, mammogram, biopsy and a diagnosis, hearing the word ‘cancer’ for the first time – stage 3.
Katie went through 8 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by a bilateral mastectomy and 25 rounds of radiation.
“Fortunately, I had what is called a full response to chemo, so it completely got rid of my cancer. But due to my age and aggressiveness of the cancer, it has a higher probability of coming back, which is why they did the surgery and radiation.”
When her oncology team prepared her to begin chemotherapy, they told her to expect hair loss after the second treatment.
“I was told that I would lose all of my hair, including my eyebrows and eyelashes. That’s when my oncology team informed me of the Look Good Feel Better program. I signed up right away and by the day of my workshop, I had already begun to lose my hair. It was kind of perfect timing.”
At the LGFB workshop, Katie met other women who were sharing a similar experience.
“It was one of the first times I could connect with other women going through similar circumstances that actually understood what I was going through. I realized there that I was not alone in this journey. I even made one good friend that I still keep in contact with.”
As well as an opportunity to meet other women, Katie says she learned many practical tips and techniques to help her through the appearance-related effects of treatment.
“They helped me try on different wigs and head wraps and showed me the different ways that I could wear them. They taught me the importance of cleanliness and hygiene and about using disposable make up brushes - which I never would have thought of! You essentially have no immune system while going through chemo so keeping everything clean was extremely important. They showed me how to properly put on eyeliner and recreate eyebrows, which oddly enough I actually didn’t end up losing until I was completely done with chemo. By that time, I thought I was in the clear, so it was a bit disappointing. But I was glad I had learned the things that I did at LGFB. They sent me home with a packed kit with all the product & tools I would need. Now that I’m finished treatment and my hair is growing back, I joke that the only thing they didn’t prepare me for was the chemo curls!”
Last year, while still in the midst of her treatment, Katie attended Bubbles & Brunch in support of Look Good Feel Better. It’s an annual event that brings together supporters of the charity to raise glasses – and funds – for the beautiful cause of helping women and teens with cancer feel like themselves again. Katie attended the event with the new friend she had made in her LGFB workshop.
Last weekend, Katie attended – and spoke – at the third annual Bubbles & Brunch in support of Look Good Feel Better. She joined the stage with host, Kim MacDonald, Weather Network presenter and LGFB workshop ambassador, to share her story with the more than 325 guests that had gathered to do something beautiful for the women we love.
Rocking the gorgeous chemo curls she likes to joke about, she thanked the room for supporting the program that was there for her – and for making it possible for more women and their families across Canada to receive the same support.