February 2016… I was at a private clinic on Sherbrooke Street, after a particularly difficult day at work, for an ultrasound scan of a lump that had been discovered in my right side breast. I had a biopsy at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital the following week. A few weeks later, I received a telephone call to schedule an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). I was diagnosed with breast cancer in early April. I underwent a fertility preservation procedure at a fertility clinic a few days later because cancer treatments could interfere with my ability to have children. My right side breast was removed one week later.

Having cancer is a bit like being in the eye of a storm. Everything is topsy turvy and hectic. Meanwhile, you feel suspended in time. I remember feeling very out of sync with the people around me. I was living in an alternate universe, or so it seemed, and I didn’t want to be there. I desperately wanted to get back to my old life. I so wished to be the person providing consolation, instead of being the one receiving it.

Your life, throughout this period of time, seems to be in everyone’s hands but your own. The appointments, the operations, the downtime, the medication, and all of the secondary effects… you aren’t in control of any of it.

Cancer, vivre, Santé

Source : Jolyane Pelle

I was pronounced “in remission” one year after being diagnosed with cancer. You could say that I was one of the lucky ones.

In time, I came to realize that there’s one major aspect of cancer that goes unheard… and that’s life after cancer. You’ve been jostled left and right and found yourself at the centre of everybody’s attention, and then you’re “suddenly” pronounced “healed” and you’re expected to go back to your old life but you feel all torn up inside.

It was a very difficult period in my life.

When I had learned that I had cancer, I invested all of my energy in getting through the ordeal. I was living on adrenaline and paid no heed to my emotions… at any rate, I figured I didn’t have the luxury of time. We’re told that the people who survive cancer are the ones who maintain a positive attitude so we bottle up any negativity or fear deep within us.

This fear of dying, the sadness of seeing friends and family, feeling sad and worried, the pain of seeing your father cry for the first time, wondering if you’ll be around to see your nephew grow up or if the man you love will start a new life with someone else and forget all about you, should you disappear…

It all came to the surface when I was in remission. At the same time, I didn’t feel like I could talk about it with the people in my life. They didn’t want to hear about it because they wanted to put it behind them and, above all else, they were so happy that everything had ended well.  Thank goodness I discovered the Happy Hour get togethers organized by Fondation Virage for young adults living with cancer.

I felt very much at ease sharing my thoughts with people of my own age; people who had so warmly welcomed me into the fold. I could relate to the stories they shared and was inspired by their strength and positivism. The get togethers are held at the Sandhu restaurant on Papineau Street and all participants are offered a meal.

Details here (available in French only).

Finally, I felt like I could close this chapter of my life and move forward.

Source of headline image @Kathrin Honesta

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