Catherine Verdon Diamond Testimonial

Share on

About five or six years ago, I woke up one morning and noticed blood on my sheets. At first glance, I thought I might have had a nosebleed during the night, or perhaps scratched myself, so I didn’t think anything of it and ignored it. However, as this kept occurring, I made it a point to pay closer attention to my body to find out where this blood was coming from. One day after returning home from work, I started undressing, took off my beige bra, and noticed blood on the inside of the cup of my right breast. I was shocked when I realized that the blood was coming from my breast.

My first impulse was to ask the people around me if this was normal. I asked family, my friends, coworkers, and everyone said the same thing. “Nope, never experienced this”. When something like this happens, you don’t want to panic, but I knew it was time for me to seek medical advice. 

Catherine Verdon Diamond Testimonial

I contacted my family doctor and was given an appointment very quickly. I’m lucky that the receptionist at my doctor’s office knows me and is a fan of what I do because I swear I feel I get seen faster because of this. When I went in to see Dr. Lorber, she examined my breast, squeezed my nipple between her fingers and blood immediately poured out. She immediately made appointments for me to be seen by a specialist for a mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, MRI…the work.

Throughout the ordeal, I don’t remember feeling particularly anxious. It was only at the biopsy stage that I started to worry. I knew having to wait for the results would be emotionally taxing. When the results finally came in, they informed me that I had a 3mm mass behind the nipple. And thankfully the results of the mass came back benign.  After the biopsy, I was fine for about a year and a half, but then the bleeding came back. So off I went again for all the same tests. This continued for about 5 years. 

When my breast surgeon Dr. Margolies retired, I was taken on by Dr. Karyne Martel at the Jewish General Hospital. She said to me: “Catherine, you are young, I don’t like that this mass keeps returning. I think it’s time we did a partial mastectomy to remove the mass and the tissue around it, to ensure it doesn’t return.” When you hear the words mastectomy you go down the rabbit hole of what does this mean…am I dying? Will they discover breast cancer? But I knew I had to follow my doctor’s orders and I trusted her with my whole being.

I of course had questions about my breasts after surgery. Will my breasts look the same? Will I need lots of time off? Will I wake up from the anesthesia (I had never been put under)? Dr. Martel did her best to reassure me that everything would be fine. And she assured me that my breast would retain its natural shape with very little change. 

The surgery took over three hours! Way longer than anticipated. During the surgery, my doctor couldn’t find the metal marker they had inserted the week before to identify the mass. So she had to call for a team at the breast clinic to bring down a machine that would detect the marker. My poor husband who was waiting to hear back from the nurses in the waiting room was starting to panic. Thankfully they found it, and they were able to remove the mass and tissue around the area and return me to recovery. Everything was sent to oncology for testing and I would have to wait 3 weeks for the results. The longest three weeks of my life. It’s moments like this where I sometimes wish I had the insurance to be seen in the US. My friend who lives in California says they will roll out the red carpet for you when you have great insurance. She waits a maximum of 24 hrs for results…24 hrs!!!! I thought I would return to work the next day after my surgery, but I ended up staying home for almost three weeks. I was in a lot of pain and my body didn’t do well with the anesthesia. I ended up with a bit of fever and diarrhea too. So I had to stay home until I was 100% better.

When the results came in I went to my appointment with my mom. I didn’t want to bring the entire family with me. My husband and I were already preparing for the worst. If it’s cancer we thought…will I need chemo, radiation, more?? How will we break the news to the children? These are all things we tried to prepare for. We tried not to stress too much though, because we knew it was out of our control.

Although I was fearing the worst I ended up getting the best news. NO CANCER FOUND! Turns out the mass was a papilloma…AMEN! The relief was almost instant…it was the best-case scenario and I was so glad it was over. With the papilloma completely gone I would now only have to go see my breast surgeon once a year. At one point I was seeing them every 4 months.

The day of my surgery I finally shared my story on Facebook and received so much love and support. I went into detail about my 5-year struggle and advised everyone to listen to their bodies and to make sure to have regular checkups with their doctors. I was lucky…so many aren’t as lucky as I was and I am fully aware of that. I lost my mother-in-law to breast cancer, my sister has breast cancer, and I have also lost friends to the disease so I know this all too well. People were sharing stories with me and it created this beautiful forum for women to be open and gave a voice to those who are silently struggling or afraid to go see their doctor for abnormalities. 

As a proud Black woman, I am very aware of the statistics surrounding Black women and their negative experiences with healthcare providers. I am hoping that my story gives someone the strength they need to be their advocate and seek the help and proper care they need. Too many of us suffer in silence. I too have had bad experiences in Quebec’s health care, while giving birth, and during one of my many routine mammograms. Don’t be afraid to ask for a new technician, a different nurse, or a different doctor. Get that second opinion, but more importantly, trust your gut. And last but not least…feel your breasts and learn how to practice breast observation. There are so many references available online. Early detection saves lives.