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Meet Janet

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It's time to meet another member here on our community. This month, we're pleased to introduce you to Janet- better known on our community as Shenpa. Here's a bit more about Janet who answered our Meet your Neighbour questionnaire.


Tell us a little bit about your cancer experience.

My journey down the rabbit hole began in August 2014 when I felt a lump in my breast. It grew for the next two months until treatment began in October 2014. I had 6 chemotherapy treatments, a bilateral mastectomy with removal of all the lymph glands on the left and two on the right, and then 25 radiation treatments. As I had inflammatory breast cancer with skin involvement and damage from the radiation I may not qualify for breast reconstruction. I have tried wearing prosthesis a couple of times but I do not like wearing them. At this time I am breast free and considering remaining this way. I am currently undergoing treatment with Herceptin and will complete this in late November 2015. 

I have felt fortunate to have tremendous support from family, friends and my health care team. I could not have asked more of my husband, my daughter, son-in-law and my son, their love and support has no bounds. A friend, who is an RN, attended almost every appointment with my husband and I, she opened her home (near the hospital) for us to stay as often as needed and she has become my sister on this journey.  I kept friends and family up to date with my experience through a Facebook group and doing so made me feel less isolated; they were also a tremendous cheering squad. My experience in my treatment hospital has been exceptional, I could share many positive experiences but one stands out.

My oncologist had test results that told her I was HER-2 positive the day before my first chemotherapy treatment. She told me she would request that the pharmacy change the orders for my chemotherapy, I was to have Docetaxel and Herceptin first, followed by FEC-D. She explained that the pharmacy was incredibly busy and may not be able to fulfill her request, they did and in an ultrasound clinical trial I witnessed the tumour respond dramatically to the first chemotherapy treatments. After my surgery my surgeon shared my results and told me I had a ten percent chance of getting such excellent results given my original diagnosis. I thanked her and my oncologist for their excellent care and dropped by the pharmacy to tell my story and let them know how much it meant to me that they came through for me and it mattered.
 

Q: What physical changes have you experienced as a result of cancer?

At this time fatigue, joint pain, lymphedema and neuropathy are my main issues. 
I have lost my seemingly endless energy, my ability to work an active 14-hour day, my breasts, and a sharp, busy mind. My body and mind still have some healing to do, the brain fog caused by chemotherapy started to lift in July and I have seen slow but steady improvement. The first year of this illness was about acceptance, I believe the focus will now be patience.


Q: Did you get any “words of wisdom” that inspired you, that helped you through your cancer journey?

Yes, in the beginning I focused on words of wisdom a friend shared years ago, life will bring challenges and sometimes the only control you have is how you respond. I became determined to remain positive and focus on doing what I could to become well.  My two adult children had the same response to my cancer, when they told friends and sympathy was expressed they responded, “don’t worry, she will kick it’s ass”. Knowing they had such faith in me was tremendous. I participated in three clinical trials; one was a psychological study tracking my pain, sleep, appetite and mood during chemotherapy.  The Masters student leading the study had some excellent advice, “make room for a life outside of the disease, people who focus only on the cancer find an emptiness when they recover”.


Q: What is one thing you want everyone to know about having cancer?

 Each individual who has cancer has an experience as unique as they are. I have met many women in the last year, each with their own unique experience of this disease.

 
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Here is a recent photo, my hair has grown back and for the first time in my life I have curly hair.



Q: How has CancerConnection.ca helped you through your cancer experience?

In the beginning the site helped me feel less isolated. Through the peer support program I was able to connect to another woman who had experienced a mastectomy and lymphedema, no one understands better than someone who has been through the journey.  I have appreciated the informative webinars and I have participated in a few discussions, it feels good to reach out to others.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement you provide through CancerConnection.ca .


Q: And now, for the all-important question everyone is asking. If you could choose a superhero power, what would it be?

I would choose flight. My daughter lives out of province, she took a seven-month leave of absence to be with us this past year. It is expensive to fly in Canada and I would love to be able to drop in for a visit with her and my son-in-law any time.







We'd like to thank Shenpa for sharing some of her experience with us, and for answering our questionnaire. If you are interested in being featured in one of our monthly Meet your Neighbour posts, please send a private message to Nicole_admin, or email us at cancerconnection@cancer.ca. 

 




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