It was discovered on August 11, 2022 that I was likely to have bilateral breast cancer, which was later confirmed. Due to this medical condition, I will be undergoing chemotherapy treatment, surgery, and likely radiation.
My experience as a medical Social Worker in health care has taught me about the Saskatchewan health care system and the importance of advocating for one's own well-being while understanding, participating in, and navigating one's own health care within multidisciplinary medical teams.
May 4, 2023 Update
My cancer treatment has consisted of 16 rounds of chemotherapy since I was diagnosed. My last four chemotherapy treatments were very difficult to manage since they made me very ill. Despite wanting to stop twice at the end, I managed to complete them.
On April 4, I underwent a double mastectomy and am recovering from the procedure. Based on the pathology report, I had a complete response to chemotherapy on the left side (Stage 3 Triple Negative), which means no cancer was detected in the breast tissue or lymph nodes. On the right side (Stage 1 ERPR+), a 6mm piece of cancer was found in the breast tissue, but it was removed; no cancer was found in the lymph nodes. The results of these tests indicate that I am currently cancer-free.
I have begun immunotherapy (1 out of 9) triweekly, and I will meet with the radiation oncologist on May 5, 2023, to determine my radiation schedule.
It has been almost nine months since the beginning of this cancer journey and treatment. I have experienced a difficult journey, but it has been a necessary one for my survival. Thanks to coping strategies and support, I was able to navigate this journey in a somewhat less traumatic manner.
After watching my mom undergo cancer treatment and then facing my own battle with the disease, it has certainly been a unique experience for me. I have gained a different perspective from both experiences.
Through supporting my mother and coping with my cancer diagnosis, I have learned that the most important thing is to listen to what a person truly needs, as everyone's journey to wellness is unique.
Sadly, cancer can sometimes bring us to a point in our lives where we must consider our mortality. Having been given a "poor to intermediate" prognosis on paper, I was forced to contemplate the possibility of my own death. In accepting this potential outcome, I was confronted with a lot of big emotions and thoughts about what this would mean for my family, friends, and myself. Fortunately, my experience in the medical field with death and dying provided me with some comfort in knowing that a peaceful death is possible.
At this point, in time- right now in this moment, I am okay.
September 14, 2023 Update
I completed 25 rounds of radiation to the left side of my chest. The process itself was tolerable. However, my skin needed some recovery from the radiation itself. I have two more scheduled immunotherapy treatments in October 2023. By the end of October, I will have received 17 immunotherapy treatments.
Outside of my planned treatments, additional appointments are required to follow up on any issues arising from the treatment and diagnosis, such as follow-up with a respirologist for potential lung issues. As I near the end of treatment, new anxiety starts to surface about not receiving active treatment and fear of reoccurrence. But today, at this very moment, I am okay.