After experiencing some pain in her left breast, breast cancer was not on Grace’s mind. At the age of 44, mammograms are not part of routine screening and check-ups, as they are recommended for patients who are of 50 and older.
“I went to my regular doctor; she examined me, and then referred me for a mammogram. It was my first mammogram, I didn’t know what to expect. I was young, but until I experienced pain, I had no other previous symptoms.”
After the mammogram, the doctors had asked Grace to stay for further testing. She received an ultrasound and a biopsy the same day as her first mammogram.
“Although my initial visit was longer than I had anticipated, I was so grateful. They did everything on the spot, and it saved me time and multiple visits, and provided me with a quick diagnosis. I had stage 2 cancer; it started as breast cancer, and had already spread to my lymph nodes. The doctors estimated that I had cancer for about a year prior to being diagnosed.”
After a quick diagnosis, Grace was able to begin taking action by following her treatment plan. Within the next month, Grace had regular visits to QCH for multiple appointments including MRI’s, visits with specialists, etc.
“I was confident in the prognosis – mastectomy of the left breast, 6 rounds of chemo, and 25 rounds of radiation. I believed that I was going to be fine. There was a lot I was scared about and that’s okay. The staff treated me so well, and the symptoms of chemo or radiation are gradual. The doctors at QCH were very thorough and complete; I was very happy and reassured by their care.”
For 2 years after the initial treatment, Grace had check-ups every 3 months. She is now 6 years in remission, and doing well.
“I feel confident in my health every time I go back for a checkup. My mother used to tell me, ‘God would never give you anything you can’t handle’, and I believed that. I told myself, ‘you’re going to be fine’. I truly believe that a positive attitude is half of your healing. As a staff member at QCH, it’s nice to know that I’m human too, and it’s okay. If the cancer comes back, I’ll be ready next time.”
People ask Grace ‘how did you find it?’. She explained:
“Everyone has their own experience, but the more we can educate people and encourage early detection, the better the outcomes will be. Breast cancer today is highly treatable. Have faith, and a good support system. I am confident that others will receive good care, like I did.”
Because of a quick detection and diagnosis, QCH staff were able to begin treatment for Grace, immediately. With support from our community, the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation is fundraising for a new mammography machine for faster detection, clearer improved imaging, and earlier detection of breast cancer for thousands of women and men for years to come.
To support our mammography campaign, please click here.