My name is Tracey. I am 50 years old and live in Waterloo, ON with my husband Jason, and three daughters: Amanda (age 21), Ella (age 20), and Lily (age 15). We also have two dogs – Levi and Winston.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2019. I started getting screened for breast cancer at age 29 since my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39 years old. Every year, I would go for a mammogram and often be called back or sent for an ultrasound. For over 15 years, I dreaded those appointments. I have always thought of the what-ifs. What would I do if I got cancer? There were quite a few ultrasounds, and I had tears streaming down my face. In January 2019, I had my regular mammogram and ultrasound. I thought the technician was doing the ultrasound for a long time, but this wasn’t unusual. My family doctor was always considerate and told me the tests were normal. Except, this time, they weren’t. I was given an appointment for further investigation, which could include a biopsy. I knew this was different. I was terrified.
I attended the appointment by myself. I was in the waiting room with a few other women, waiting to hear the next steps. Some left looking relieved, and others looked like I did – in shock and scared. The breast surgeon said he didn’t like what he saw on the ultrasound. He also told me that I had very dense breasts, and he wasn’t surprised that the lump wasn’t caught in previous mammograms or ultrasounds. I left that appointment knowing I had cancer, but I did not know what that meant. It was the scariest moment of my life. The worst part was waiting for the biopsy results – 2 weeks! I had my appointment on February 14th and learned that it was hormone positive, grade 2, and one lymph node was involved. The next step was surgery. I told the doctor I wanted a double mastectomy in my biopsy appointment. It wasn’t necessary, he explained; a lumpectomy would be sufficient. It took a bit of convincing, but I was happy that the doctor listened to my concerns and agreed that a double mastectomy was the right option for my situation. I didn’t need my breasts anymore and was frankly done with them!
Once I healed from the surgery, I started four rounds of chemotherapy. I was terrified because I remember my Mom being so sick after her treatments. Things have changed since then; I was given drugs that helped with nausea, anxiety, and pain. It was hard but not as bad as I thought. After a brief break, it was time to start radiation. I had 30 treatments. I found this part of the journey so hard. I was tired in a way I never experienced before. My skin was raw, and I was in so much pain physically and mentally. The nurses were amazing and always made sure I was doing ok. Once all active treatment was completed, I started hormone-blocking medication that I would have to be on for 7-10 years. Excellent, I was done!!!! It was amazing, but being on the other end of treatment didn’t feel as good as I hoped.
I was still exhausted, scared of re occurrence, worried about my daughter’s risk of getting this disease, and not sure how to start moving on. I did yoga, cared for myself, went to therapy, and spent time with family and friends. I returned to work in January 2020 and faced the pandemic for way longer than anticipated. Today, I am back to work and trying to be kind to myself. I don’t have the energy I used to. I am a different person, but I am moving forward. My Mom passed away at age 59 and went through so much with her breast cancer journey. I was able to get an early diagnosis because of her – a gift she left for my family.