I am a mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I love the outdoors and have an active lifestyle. Some
of my favourite things to do are hiking, skiing, paddle boarding, roller skating, and playing
basketball with my son.

I have worked for TELUS for over 15 years and joined TELUS Health in 2018 after my father
passed away from a stroke. I wanted to help impact change in our health care system. I wasn’t
expecting that 4 years later, I would have my own health challenge to navigate.

Last July (July 25th 2022), I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42.
I went for my first mammogram May 2022 after my friend informed (nagged ha-ha) me that I
should go for one because I was over 40 years old. Like many women. I put this off because I
was too busy, and I didn’t have a family doctor. In BC, you can self-refer at 40 years old but you
need to send the results somewhere. If I didn’t know about virtual care providers as an option, I
wouldn’t have been able to have my mammogram. Scary reality!

After the first mammogram I was called back for a second one and an ultrasound on July 4th
2022, and that is when they detected two lumps on my left breast. On July 15th, I went for a
biopsy and on July 25th, I was told by a virtual care doctor I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, a
type of breast cancer. Within minutes of my virtual consultation, my world was turned upside down! I felt like a totally different person. I could not feel the lumps, and I had no family history of breast cancer. I was shocked at the news of my diagnosis. I was also shocked to learn that 85% of women that have breast cancer have no family history! How did I not know this?

The next three weeks between diagnosis and meeting with my oncologist were extremely stressful. I was living in fear and uncertainty. I also was struggling with how and when I would tell my 10-year-old son. I never expected to have that conversation with him. I would sneak off to my car to cry or to take a medical call because I didn’t want him to see or hear me. Hiding my diagnosis was taking a toll on me and my husband and we finally told my son on Aug 16th, after my first oncologist appointment when we learned that the cancer was caught early.

That was the first time in weeks that I finally believed that I was going to be ok!
On Aug 24th 2022, I had breast surgery, a lumpectomy, plus they removed 3 lymph nodes. I
found out on Sept 7th that the nodes came back negative and the cancer hadn’t spread. I can
confidentially say that early detection was the reason for this outcome.

After more testing my medical oncologist confirmed my treatment plan after recovery of surgery
would be radiation and hormone therapy for 5 years. The hormone therapy was partly due to me
being pre-menopausal and cancer grows faster in pre-menopausal women. Another fact I did
not know!

I started treatment in December 2022, two weeks before Christmas and during a snow storm,
which reminded me that cancer does not pause for Christmas or snow storms. I drove everyday
for 10 days an hour away to get treatment and hoped it would be completed before Christmas. I
finished my radiation treatment on 12/22/22. It really was a Christmas miracle! On your last day
of treatment, you get to ring a bell and people clap and cheer for you! They are excited for you
because they know first hand what you have been through. It’s a big moment!
After treatment was done it took a few weeks for me to recover physically and then I needed
support mentally. I was on auto pilot and don’t think I really digested what had happened to me
and my family over the last 7 months. Care after is just as important as during. I took the time I
needed and got the support I needed to integrate back into my new life’s normal. I went back to
work in April 2022, after 9 months, and had amazing support from my employer to make my
return to work manageable and the best fit for me. I am so grateful for this.

I want women to know that early screening and early detection save lives! We need to be
screening at 40 years old and not 50. If I waited until I was 50 for my first mammogram my
outcome and quality of life during treatment would have been very different. if you don’t have a
family doctor, you can still get access to care through a virtual care provider. In BC, you can self
refer at 40 years old and do not need a doctor’s referral. Breast screening guidelines are
different by province so you need to advocate for your health! Preventative health measures are
key to driving improved health outcomes. If you need help, reach out to me! Lastly, inform all the
women in your life about breast health and the facts!

What this experience has taught me is that I need to prioritize my health and well-being, and I
am not going to feel guilty about it. I hope my story empowers others to do the same!

Stay healthy!!