In Memory: Stephanie

In Memory: Stephanie

We were very saddened to lose Stephanie shorty after this photo series. Here is her story in her own words:

About Me
I’m a mom to three wonderful children and a wife to an amazing man who I love deeply. I am also a full time cancer fighter. I have an incredible support system made up of an amazing extended family and an exceptional group of friends. My Dad was born in Croatia and my Mom was born in Canada. I’m 39 years old.

My Breast Cancer Story
In July of 2019, I delivered a surrogate baby for a same sex couple. I pumped breast milk for her until October of 2019 and when I started to wean from pumping, I noticed a lump in my breast. I let it be for two weeks, thinking it was just from breastfeeding but after two weeks it was still there so I called my family doctor. She recommended a mammogram and ultrasound just to be safe but as soon as those tests were done, I was deemed high risk for breast cancer and required a biopsy. All of this came as a complete shock.

On December 21, 2019, our fears were confirmed that it was in fact cancer. Thankfully, at the time, I had no lymph node involvement so we believed I was early stage and planned for surgery. In January 2020, I had a lumpectomy, and we believed I was cancer free and I would do chemo as a preventative measure. Prior to starting chemo, I had a CT scan and bone scan done to ensure there wasn’t any cancer anywhere else in my body. To our absolute dismay, we learned on March 6, 2020, that my cancer had metastasized to my pelvis and I was deemed stage four. The week the world shut down because of Covid, I walked bravely, alone, into my first round of chemotherapy with the hopes that it would give me more time with my children, husband, family and friends. Also in that time, a new tumour had grown in my breast again, and I had a second lumpectomy in June of 2020.

As of today, I have completed 96 rounds of chemotherapy and multiple rounds of radiation to my collarbone, spine, neck and pelvis. I’ve had countless CT scans, weekly blood work, multiple biopsy procedures done. It has not been an easy road but I plan to continue to fight for as long as my body will allow me to. I will do anything for more time with my loved ones.

I Want You to Know
Breast cancer does not discriminate. I have no family history of breast cancer in my family and I was only 35 years old when I was diagnosed. If you find yourself diagnosed, you need to know that you didn’t do anything wrong. Cancer picks happy, healthy, generous people and there’s nothing we can do to change that. The only thing you can control is how you react to the situation. You have that in your control.

I want you to know that we need you. It may not always seem like we do but we need you. Accepting help is a very difficult thing to do. Walking through cancer is extremely draining, physically, emotionally and mentally. We need people in our corner that are going to show up when we need them. It could be immediate or it could be months into treatment but you need to know that we need you.

Diagnosed at 35