Over the years, many friends, neighbours and relatives have been diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, too many have lost their battles. I have two close girlfriends who are currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Very recently, two of my closest friends -- both young, health-conscious individuals -- fought valiantly but succumbed to the disease.
When it comes to fighting brain tumours, having a strong and supportive team is the greatest weapon. I've been a social worker on the neurosurgery floor of a hospital for over 26 years. As one of the first people to have contact with a newly diagnosed brain tumour patient, I can attest that a strong network, a resilient team, is one of the greatest assets a patient, and their families, can equip themselves with as they begin this new chapter of their lives.
A few months back, I found a lump in my breast. Where the hell did it come from? My husband and I made our way to my doctor's office. She chit-chatted a bit, and then got down to business. "Unfortunately, I don't have good news today. The biopsy showed that you have cancer." What. The. Hell. And that was the beginning.
I vividly remember the light-hearted conversation my sister and I as we waited impatiently in the hospital waiting room. "Oh, it's nothing," I told her. "You're too young. And besides, benign tumors are a family affair." In the end, she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. A frightening diagnosis for even the most adequately prepared patient.
I received a call in early January 2006 telling me that I had prostate cancer and suggesting a treatment -- surgery. As a 49-year-old healthy and, yes, hockey playing Canadian, cancer was the last thing on my mind Well they say things happen for a reason but I was having trouble figuring out just what that meant.
I remember the car ride home from my oncologist's office that day. My head felt twice as big with all the new information I had just received, tests that were required and phone numbers to schedule surgery, all stuffed in there like a sock drawer with too many socks. But to all those newly diagnosed sisters and brothers out there, take heart. It will not always be this way.