Increasing Awareness for ALL Women
There was no history of breast cancer in my family and yet… 31 years old, breast cancer! A massive blow. A total upheaval, my world collapsed around me. Time stopped and my life turned upside down. Fear invaded my soul, my body, my mind and my heart. The disease, the damn word “cancer”, it is terrifying. Anyway, the news of my breast cancer came like a bomb. I never thought I would be touched by this disease. Regardless of age, cancer hits hard for the person affected and those around them. At 31, I saw my dreams and projects go up in smoke. Putting everything on hold for an indefinite period is extremely difficult to accept.
During the last year, I have certainly lived through the most traumatic period of my life. I thought I had had my share of hardships, but no. If I had to keep one word to define the last few months, it would certainly be “fight“.
Following my diagnosis, my doctor talks about calcifications, stages, biopsy and possible surgery. I don’t understand, my ears are ringing and I feel dizzy. The rest of the day, I don’t know if I was still in my body… Afterwards, everything happened very quickly, it was the biopsy, 2nd biopsy, which failed, then a partial mastectomy to remove this piece of me that was worrisome and my lymph nodes that would be sent to pathology.
I feel like I’m losing control of my body and my life… It’s a difficult adjustment and mourning. It’s feeling extremely alone at times, even if you are well surrounded. It’s saying that word knowing that you are breaking the hearts of those you love most in the world and learning to respect their reactions, because they are all different from one person to another. Sometimes they are without words, surprised, but still it is a violent news. Some fled and I understand them so much. For me, I had no choice but to face it, even if at times I refused the diagnosis and treatments with all my might. Thank God I wasn’t alone in this ordeal.
Yet, there is beauty behind this darkness. By pushing me to my limits, it will have pushed me to try to reconnect and to set my priorities. In 2020, I learned about fear and loneliness. The ones, you know, that stick to your stomach, keep you up at night and squeeze your heart for days on end. The deep feeling of loneliness and/or emptiness. But there are also some positive sides. My relationship with my father, which has grown stronger. Watching the sky, the sun and the stars. Writing a few times. Discovering unexplored paths.
And I hung in there as best I could. The most difficult part was the hair loss, which I was so afraid of, and also the post-treatment period. In a short time your body is transformed, put to the test. Breast, hair, skin… nothing is spared! And the reconstruction of a new body is very long. The operation that mutilates your body and then the treatments, chemotherapy and radiotherapy that complete it. I am still working hard to regain my femininity and my energy from before. I now understand that it takes time. My hair, eyelashes and eyebrows had to grow back for me to feel good about my body again. I had to digest what I had been through because everything happened so quickly. The reclaiming of one’s body and sexuality after losing a part of ourselves. The excesses in which I took refuge after chemo, as if to taunt the disease and death. The hardest thing right now is the fear of recurrence. I am also working hard on accepting my medication: hormone therapy for 10 years, which causes me many side effects.
Fighter. Well… In my opinion, I didn’t fight anything. I just did what I thought needed to be done and tried to go with the flow as best I could. It was also a very difficult time for my couple. This ordeal revealed the flaws in it. However, we have been through so much together that I am confident about the future. We are learning to live with the aftermath of cancer.
From the beginning, I would have liked to have been more informed, in more details, about my type of cancer and what it would mean in my life from now on and on a daily basis. To offer psychological support to the patient from the start. And to be informed of the different organizations and foundations to receive moral, psychological and sometimes even physical help. Finally, the aftermath of illness is not easy to manage, because we inevitably keep physical and psychological traces, yet the accumulated fatigue often makes us weaker and more vulnerable.
– Karine Desrosiers