Inspiration from Survivors
Read three inspiring stories from women who have battled cancer and who offer very personal and moving perspectives about the need to support research into women’s cancers:
At a time when most young people are carefree and having fun, Tanya was diagnosed with cancer at age 21 after finding a tiny and hard lump in her breast while she was in the shower. Her cancer story has had multiple chapters, with the disease recurring twice since her first diagnosis.
Tanya turned to the Canadian Cancer Society for support through her cancer journey. Tanya was matched with a trained volunteer who had been through a similar cancer experience, someone who could draw upon her own story to offer Tanya encouragement, compassion and helpful information.
Three lumpectomies and a mastectomy later, Tanya has been cancer-free since 2005. The disease has not stopped her from living an active and fulfilling life. Now a mother to one daughter and a son, Tanya says her cancer experience made her personally stronger, and was the impetus for her to become an entrepreneur, starting up her own company, selling natural health products.
Tanya now volunteers her time with the Canadian Cancer Society, and encourages women to get together for Girls Night In. "It is a great way support an organization which is making a big difference in the lives of cancer patients and their family members," says Tanya.
In 2001, Antonel was looking forward to a future that included marriage and a family. At 31 years old, a diagnosis of both ovarian and uterine cancers came as very unexpected and traumatic news. Her doctors prescribed a hysterectomy amongst other procedures and scheduled a round of exhausting daylong ovarian cancer chemotherapy sessions. Antonel was in shock. Not only was she facing a life-threatening disease, but she also had to mourn the fact that she would never be able to get pregnant and have her own children, something she had always dreamed about.
Throughout her cancer journey, Antonel took it one day at a time and remained positive. She was thankful to have the support of her fiancÚ, family members, friends and colleagues.
Proof that cancer stories can have happy endings, Antonel beat the odds and has been cancer-free since 2002. She married her fiancÚ later that year. In 2005, the couple adopted a beautiful 22-month-old boy. Antonel now not only balances motherhood and work in the social services field, she also makes time to volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society. She believes that it is important to spread the word to women that they should be aware of any changes in their health and to report them to a doctor. “Girls Night In is a great way to have your friends over, bring awareness to women’s cancers, all while raising funds to support a good cause,” says Antonel.
Everything about Penny’s life changed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35. After a swift diagnosis, Penny underwent a lumpectomy, a lymph node removal procedure and six months of chemotherapy and radiation.
Beyond her own health, the busy mom of three young children worried about the emotional and financial toll the disease was taking on her family. Penny had to stop work while she was in treatment. Her house, once a haven for her children’s friends was isolated. Visitors were limited because treatment had affected Penny’s immune system and she couldn’t chance catching the common cold or flu. Penny didn’t want the disease to stop her from being a parent to her children and she refused to spend a day in bed. On the days when fatigue did catch up with her, she remembers her son and two daughters joining her couch-side to play cards and board games.
Cancer-free since 1995, Penny has been a Canadian Cancer Society volunteer for 10 years and feels rewarded to be able to provide support and encouragement to women who share a similar cancer story.
Due to a family history of breast cancer, the disease is never far from thought. Penny worries for her now grown daughters, whether or not breast cancer will someday change their lives. She hopes that research progress will one day banish these worries. Penny encourages women to support the Girls Night In fundraising initiative. “Funding research will provide us with new information about cancer such as finding other genetic links to breast cancer, so that one day we will be able to limit the impact the disease will have on future generations of women,” says Penny.