Updated: May 31, 2018
My name is Joanne (but I go by Jo), and I’m a 34-year-old breast cancer survivor from Saskatoon, SK, Canada. I was diagnosed with ER/PR+ HER2+ Invasive Ductal Carcinoma at age 30 after discovering a lump myself. At the time of diagnosis, our son was just a month shy of turning 3 and I was angry that my time with him was going to be taken away. As a plan was set in place, I realized I needed to do everything I could to ensure none of the precious years ahead were stolen from us. I took it head on and with an aggressive treatment plan, and a positive attitude, I kicked cancer in the ass.
I found it hard connecting with other young moms with cancer to help me navigate the challenges of getting through treatment with children, so I started a blog. I want them to know there are many other young mothers with cancer and to provide encouragement and information to get through what may be the toughest fight of their life.
Throughout treatment, my family and friends really carried me with their love and support. They also helped me feel normal amidst a world that had been flooded with appointments and side effects. My girlfriends, in particular, kept me laughing throughout.
One of my favourite memories actually happened just after my reconstruction. I had DIEP flap reconstruction (abdominal tissue harvested from my abdomen and grafted to my chest to create breasts-it’s some real sci-fi stuff!) and was not mobile for a good while after. A few of my girlfriends came over to hang out one evening and one of them brought a couple bras that didn’t fit right to give to another girlfriend. At the end of the night, they all left and I made my way upstairs to bed. My husband went to take the garbage bin to the curb for pick up the next day. When he came inside, he made his way upstairs, stood in our bedroom doorway and said “what kind of get together did you have tonight?” as he held up a bra that he found on the front walkway! It fell out of my girlfriend’s bag when she left.
I found it even more funny as the next day, we had volunteers for our civic election coming by so I could vote! How embarrassing if they would have walked up to that on the walkway!? I couldn’t stop laughing, which I tried very hard to do because any amount of muscle engagement after major abdominal surgery is not pleasant. I just couldn’t help it though! Laughing felt so great despite the pain I was feeling because after a few weeks of being in agony and bed ridden, I wasn’t exactly loving up life. My reconstruction ended up being one of the most challenging parts of my journey, as I suffered major complications. By finding the positives & humour in my worst times, I was able to get through.