Name: Sonia Couto
Occupation: Director of Operations
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 38
Breast cancer type: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Breast cancer stage: Stage #1
Treatment: Left Mastectomy, Hormone treatment (Tamoxifen).
Next steps: Right Mastectomy, Reconstructive breast surgery.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer:
I love to have fun and one of my favourite pass times is salsa dancing.
What’s your go-to pick-me- up song?
Pharrell Williams “Happy”
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I found the lump myself while laying down.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
I felt numb, like someone had smashed my head up against a wall. Then I thought “how bad is it and am I going to survive this?”
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
You’ll get a boob job.
Who or what is/was your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer?
Google who provided me a large amount of information and resources. My sisters, friends and co-workers.
What is/was the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
Having a breast cancer diagnosis feels like a death sentence until you get all your facts straight. As a single woman the most difficult part is feeling like I’ll never find a partner, because who wants to date someone with Cancer? Looking in the mirror is very difficult, I don’t mind scars but I don’t feel like a woman. Having only one breast is just plain weird! There are days when my mind thinks that the breast is still there. Clothing doesn’t fit right and I slowly I started letting myself go, stopped caring about wearing nice clothes and looking my best, even for work.Another challenge is running a company while scheduling multiple surgeries, and doctor appointments. Being in a leadership position and having people depend on me daily made me feel like I was letting them down by not being able to be present in everyday activities.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer?
I learned that people around me see me as a very strong person although I did not see myself that way. This made me analyze myself and my life and I came to the conclusion that it is true, I can take on a lot. Every time I would meet with my doctors they would always make comments of how surprised they were that I was working full-time while going through this, that I was so well informed and educated about the actual disease and had plans and solutions for my health going forward.
In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Don’t panic! Establish a good relationship with your doctors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get a second opinion and do lots research.