As a ten-year employee of the IWK Foundation, I have walked through the doors of the IWK Health Centre thousands of times. But there are times that stand out more than the rest; my first Telethon, the opening of the Ron Joyce Operating Suite, the day the Garron family donated $10 million. Then there are also the days each of my two children were born, the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer and the day I had my right breast removed.
In June of 2017, I was on top of the world. I was a happily married 31-year-old with a million dollar family. My son, Peter, was turning one and my daughter, Rosalie, was three. I was preparing to go back to work after maternity leave, I was also waiting to have a mammogram at the IWK after discovering two lumps in my breast. But I wasn’t worried. I was still breastfeeding and they were likely clogged milk ducts. They should have been clogged ducts. They weren’t.
I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma — the most common form of breast cancer. I immediately underwent a mastectomy and axillary node dissection — a surgical procedure to remove the lymph nodes under my armpit. I had six tumours in my breast. My cancer was aggressive and it was stage three.
Since my diagnosis, I’ve visited the IWK Breast Health Centre — a place I helped raise money to create nearly a dozen times. I’ve also received a bone scan, MRI, two CT scans and two additional mammograms, all at the IWK. As part of my treatment plan, I have also completed six rounds of chemotherapy, 25 radiation treatments and 18 infusions of a targeted drug therapy through the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre.
Each time I’ve walked through the doors of the IWK as a patient, I’ve been treated with the compassion, kindness and top-notch care I’ve come to know over the last 10 years. It is the magic that makes this place so very special.
We all know the important role that the IWK plays for Maritime children. But it is also here for our women too. Women just like me.