1 in 8 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year – that’s 26,300 women. According to The Canadian Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canada.
That is why it’s so important that every October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month takes place. The month is dedicated to help increase awareness, raise funds for research and to call-on action to save lives.
One of my first questions was “am I going to die?”
Thousands of women are faced with what seems like their only option: undergoing mastectomy. Like many of these women, breast-cancer survivor Barbara Hutchins, knows exactly what it’s like.
“The first thing that went through my mind was, ‘what did I do to deserve this?’, and that’s the important thing for women to understand. That we don’t deserve this. It’s nothing we did. It just happens. It doesn’t respect people. It just picks who it wants.”
Hutchins was diagnosed in 2013. Until then, she spent two years getting to the healthiest state she has ever been in. She had successfully lost 50lbs and had just completed her first 10k. But one morning when she was getting dressed for a run, she felt a lump in her breast and knew things were going to be different.
“The grieving process. The denial. The anger. The bargaining… You very much go through that. You grieve the lost of a part of body. It’s like losing a part of yourself and that part dies. For me, it was a rebirth afterwards but it’s taken me three years of consulting to be able to handle it.” She says it’s important to trust your instincts and go with your gut when making decisions, as time is a critical piece.
Today I feel very proud of myself. I’m a fighter. I am alive and I’m grateful.
St.Joseph’s hospital hosts an annual Breast Reconstructive Awareness (BRA) day during the month of October. The purpose of BRA day is to help educate women, friends and families on the procedures and answer any questions.
Numerous rebuilding options are available depending on the woman’s treatment, sometimes giving them the option to choose which suits their wishes best. Research has proven a significant improvement to the quality of life in women after receiving reconstructive surgery.
Dr. Aaron Grant is a plastic surgeon at the University Hospital in London and says the reconstruction surgery is a huge confidence boost, and has helped many through the coping process.
“it is nice to see women feel more comfortable in clothing. Sometimes they change the clothes that they’re wearing. Something I noticed is that when a woman will come in with tan lines from a bathing suit, where they would never have worn a bathing suit before without breasts or with a prosthesis. But now they do feel more comfortable in clothing.”
Reconstruction surgery is available in Canada and is covered by the government. Survivors and medical professionals encourage more women to ask questions. For more information, speak to your doctor or go to the Canadian Cancer Society website.