My breast cancer journey began in January of 2007 with a diagnosis of DCIS, or Ductal Carcinoma in situ. I had a lumpectomy but the pathology indicated further treatment was required which led to a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.
On March 16, 2007, Dr. Ethel MacIntosh performed a mastectomy of my left breast at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was followed by immediate reconstruction by Dr. Ed Buchel, using the DIEP procedure which harvested skin, fat and blood vessels from my abdomen to construct a new breast. I returned to work 7 weeks after my surgery with no complications, both breasts and looking almost the same as I always had.
The impact of surviving the breast cancer ordeal and still being able to look and feel like myself was a gift I will always treasure. It allowed and still allows me to get past the bad stuff and sometimes even forget I had cancer. I know and appreciate that I am one of the lucky ones and am very grateful to everyone who helped and continues to support me.
The positive outcome and gratitude I felt for everyone who supported me and my family throughout the ordeal led me to create Keeping Abreast. Our first event – held in May 2007 - was an overwhelming success, raising over $26,000 for CancerCare Manitoba and breast cancer research. The May 2008 event raised a phenomenal $100,000! That year, Keeping Abreast partnered with the Health Sciences Centre Foundation to raise funds specifically for breast cancer reconstruction surgery research & education. All donations to Keeping Abreast now go directly to the HSC Foundation.
Through the HSC Foundation, Dr. Buchel uses the funds to purchase computers for support staff and state-of-the-art surgical and monitoring equipment. Funds also help develop patient support materials, like the breast reconstruction program website. The Keeping Abreast committee continues to raise funds for the HSC Breast Reconstruction program, to ensure it remains the Canadian centre of excellence in their field.
Keeping Abreast is a testament that positive results can come from having cancer. Without experiencing it, I would not have been driven to champion this cause so that together we are able to enhance the lives of many women with breast cancer!