Last September, I had an ultrasound and a biopsy that detected stage 0 breast cancer that had not shown up on my mammogram. I like to think that I was lucky in my misfortune: true, I had been diagnosed with cancer, but at least I could start getting treatment very early.
You could say that I’ve got quite used to with living with cancer since my father’s two sisters and my father have had to deal with the disease—breast cancer, esophageal cancer and lung cancer.
But such familiarity didn’t lessen the shock of being diagnosed. Even with my 63 years of life experience, it’s just as painful, and the doubts and questions grow more numerous with every passing day.
On top of that, there are considerable side effects: my nights are particularly difficult, I get too hot, I sweat, I have frequent mood swings. Stress and uncertainty disrupt my daily life and play havoc with my habits and plans. I even had to stop working, even though I plan to resume eventually.
In the midst of all the confusion, I needed clear explanations, about the treatments for example, and my chances of a relapse. But the health care system was overloaded and the doctors were overworked, so I turned to a psychologist to find a way of calming my anxieties. Then I heard about organizations that help out people with cancer.
It was during follow-up at the CHUM that I was first able to benefit from the services of the Fondation Virage, whose premises are located right at the hospital. That was when I heard about the free or low-cost services offered by the Quebec Cancer Foundation. So I decided to drop by and give them a try.
First, I tried the massages given by the extraordinary massage therapist, Dany. She is an amazing person. I’m used to massages and I’ve had a lot of them in my time, but the ones I’ve had the good fortune of receiving at the Foundation are the best by far.
I also loved Lucie’s art therapy workshops. They did me an immense amount of good. Art therapy works on you from inside; it offers you pure moments of reflection and emotions that help you move forward in your life. During those workshops, I cried and discovered talents that were buried deep inside me. I am now a passionate painter. All thanks to wonderful, talented Lucie!
Today I know how profoundly a cancer diagnosis can change every aspect of your life. It gives you a lot to think about, and a lot to face. It’s a good thing organizations like the Foundation exist! I’m so very grateful.