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Meet Steff

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It's a new year and time to introduce you to a new member of our community. Please welcome Steff better known in our community as prairiemom and read more about her experience with cancer and deciding to stop waiting "'til later"...


Q: Summarize your experience with cancer.
In July 2015, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I had no symptoms, other than feeling more tired than usual, and my doctor told me afterwards that he wasn't sure, when he found the lump, that it was anything bad, as it didn't feel "typical".  I had a lumpectomy, followed by 4 cycles of chemo. During chemo, genetic testing found that I have the BRCA1 gene mutation, so in November 2014, straight after chemo I had a double mastectomy, to try and reduce my chances of a recurrence. In March 2016, I had a complete hysterectomy and both ovaries removed, as my risk of ovarian cancer was around 50%. It was a complete 8 month whirlwind from diagnosis to my last surgery.  It wasn't until I was done with surgeries etc that the emotional impact hit me like a ton of bricks. 


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Q: What is your status currently?
I am NED - No Evidence of Disease. 

Q: What is one thing you want everyone to know about having cancer?
Hmm..it changes you completely. You think you know how you react if you ever get this diagnosis. It changed how I thought about a lot of things, and I am now taking steps to do things that I had always out off "til later". Later is not always promised to us.  Is that more than one? lol. 


Q: Did you get any “words of wisdom” that inspired you, that helped you through your cancer journey?
I remember someone sending me a meme, and I loved the words on it, which i now have inscribed on a leather wrap bracelet that I wear every day. 

"She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible"  

Other than that, I think my kids pushed me to just get through this as best I could. They were 9 & 7 when I was diagnosed, and it was the hardest thing ever to tell them that I was sick, and see their fear of losing me - all they knew was that people with cancer died, and I was determined to show them differently. 



Q: Who are your supporters? 
Without a doubt, my husband, David, who came to every single appointment with me, and took such great care of me and our kids. He also shaved my head when I started to lose my hair. My kids, Rhiannon and Ethan - they were so amazing through this experience, even though I wished they never had to deal with it. My friends both near and far. They would drop off meals for us, look after the kids, whatever they could do to help. A bunch of my online friends, all crocheters, and some fairly well known designers, got together secretly and made me a blanket to use during chemo, and wrote letters and cards too. My Mother in Law - she lives in England, along with the rest of our families, and was visiting us when i got the call telling me I had cancer. She was due to return to England that day and immediately said she would stay and help if needed. She actually flew back out for 3 weeks to take care of us all when I had my hysterectomy. I was, and still am, pretty public and vocal about my story on facebook, not for pity or attention, but I knew so many people have to face it alone, or are afraid to talk about it for whatever reason. I told myself if just one person booked that mammogram, or had that weird lump checked out because me, then any negative attention i got was worth it. I now have people telling me that I have been really helpful to them through their journeys, and I;m glad to offer my experiences and pay it forward. 



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Q: What are your hobbies or interests? Did they change after your cancer experience?
I love to read, and am a borderline collector of books. I started crocheting when my children were little, and now test patterns for a handful of designers. I now have a yarn collection to rival my book collection, oops! I;m learning other fiber arts too, like knitting, weaving and spinning, and would really like to explore writing too - doing all those things I kept putting off, thinking I would find time for them. Getting sick taught me to stop putting things off, and go for it. 



Q: How has being a member of CancerConnection.ca/Peer Support helped you?
I have met some wonderful people through Peer Support - some local and some from other provinces. It is great to meet people like me that "get it" without me going into huge explanations. I wanted a way to reach out to other people that might be going through cancer, and offer them support. Through the workshops, I've been able to help set up a local in-person support group, and hopefully reach other patients in need of support and hope at a critical time in their lives. 

Q: And now, for the all-important question everyone is asking: If you could choose a superhero power, what would it be?
hmmm, ooh teleportation! Then I could pop over and see my family in England whenever I wanted, visit my best friend who just moved to Winnipeg a few months ago, visit somewhere warm when it's minus 30 and a blizzard, and be back in time for supper! 

Q:What else do you want us to know?
um...don't eat yellow snow? If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you? You were expecting something inspirational and wise here, weren't you? Welcome to my sense of humour! 

Steff


Thank you so much Steff for taking the time to help us get to know you better! Love your sense of hu
mour!  You would be a great writer.




Comments

Steff - love your story, your pictures, and your sense of humour!  So glad they caught your TNBC at stage 2, discovered you had BRCA1 mutation, and you did what was necessary so that you could wear the superhuman badge of honour of being NED.  Congratulations!  All the best to you and your amazing family.
  • Posted Mon 14 Jan 2019 03:48 PM EST

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