Why I Share My 18-Year Cancer-Free Story
I am happy to say that I am an 18-year cancer-free breast cancer survivor! I will always be thankful for all the support that I received during and after my year of treatments. To this day, people are congratulating me for the many years that I have been a breast cancer survivor.
I discovered a lump in my breast just shortly after Christmas of 2002 and immediately went to see my physician. Within a week, I had a mammogram, ultrasound and core biopsy. I had a lumpectomy in mid-January and two weeks later, had a partial mastectomy with removal of lymph nodes under my arm. The tissue from the breast was clear but the lymph nodes were positive.
I was then scheduled for six months of chemotherapy. I was extremely lucky that I was not too sick and did not lose my hair but the chemo pills did give me quite a tummy ache. Radiation was next, for 18 days, making me very tired. I had very slight sunburn on my breast but used cortisone cream for relief. I was so very thankful for my family and my friends who were such a wonderful support team.
Because of the wonderful treatment I received at the Cancer Centre, I felt that I had to give back to those that were going through the same thing I did. After a year, I took training with the Canadian Cancer Society to be a peer support volunteer and talked to newly diagnosed cancer patients for almost 10 years. Many of those women felt comforted knowing that I also went through breast cancer and seemed to be at ease talking to someone who got it.
I am now a receptionist at our local Erie Shores Hospice. I have lived and worked in my community for the majority of my life so I know many people here. When a patient comes to our Hospice, many times it is someone that lives in our town or worked at the same place I did. The resident and the family take comfort in seeing a familiar face and knowing that I am also a cancer survivor.
I tell my friends who are currently going through treatment for breast cancer that they have to have one word etched in their minds…HOPE!! I never, ever gave up hope that I would beat this and it would not beat me! When I see a familiar head-covering, I will approach that person and ask if they are a breast cancer survivor. If they say YES, I tell them that I too am a breast cancer survivor and the look on their face immediately changes from skeptical to a big smile! It’s good to be an advocate for something so life-changing for a lot of women today! – Mary Jane MacVicar