Cancer is personal – when a person gets cancer, their life, and their family’s life, are never quite the same.
Sandra, her husband and two boys – ages 7 and 10 – came home from karate class like they did every week. This time though, right before she was about to take a shower, she felt a lump in her left breast.
“I tried not to panic. I called my husband in to double check the lump,” Sandra shares. “I was shaking when he confirmed he felt what I felt, so I called my family doctor first thing the next morning and had a mammogram and ultrasound booked that week.”
Both scans confirmed a lump. From there, Sandra had a biopsy which confirmed that the lump was cancerous.
Soon after receiving the results, a lumpectomy was scheduled.
Sandra’s lumpectomy confirmed her diagnosis was a very aggressive form of breast cancer: triple negative that had spread to one lymph node.
A CT and bone scan was scheduled to make sure it had not spread to the rest of the body, followed by six rounds of chemo and radiation at Trillium Health Partners, Credit Valley Hospital.
According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, triple negative breast cancer accounts for only 10 to 20 per cent of all invasive breast cancers, yet is responsible for a large portion of breast cancer deaths. Because it is an aggressive form of cancer, it’s more likely to have already spread to other parts of the body before diagnosis.
“As an emergency room nurse who had never been sick before, it felt strange to be a patient and not the health care provider,” Sandra shares. “But I was determined to be strong for my young family. My mom had breast cancer and I was desperate to beat this, just like she had. My determination to go through my cancer treatment came from wanting to show my two young boys that no matter what life hands you, you should handle it the best way possible with a positive attitude, regardless of the outcome.”
Today, Sandra is cancer free and doing well. She is back to work, earned her orange belt in karate and recently participated in a karate tournament. She particularly remembers the care she received throughout her patient journey and the services she was offered that helped make her journey that much better, in what was a very difficult time in her life.
“Nobody expects to get cancer,” Sandra explains. “We’re so fortunate to have a health care system that takes care of us – especially in our time of greatest need. Trillium Health Partners saved my life. I’m cancer free today because of amazing staff that work at the hospital. I can’t thank them enough! If I can support mothers with families like myself on their cancer journey, and to keep being positive throughout, then I am happy.”
And you can help too.
Trillium Health Partners Foundation is currently raising the critical funds needed to advance the hospital’s cancer program. The next phase of redevelopment at Credit Valley Hospital, which is currently underway, will include the creation of a comprehensive Women’s Imaging Centre for breast cancer and osteoporosis. Together, with your support, we can continue to help patients like Sandra receive the advanced, high-quality care they deserve.I'm Inspired to Give