I felt a lump about a month before I was scheduled to return for my routine mammogram at the Chedoke Ontario Breast Screening Program. I didn’t worry too much, but told the technician about it before my exam. My surgeon, Dr. Heller, was the one who told me we were likely dealing with cancer. This all happened right before Christmas and I had to wait for the biopsy until January. Following my diagnosis, we had a cruise planned and Dr. Heller kindly told me I could go ahead with my vacation. We got home from our trip and I was scheduled for surgery the next day.
I underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and, I have to say, I got through it okay. I can recall only one bad day of chemotherapy. I held onto advice from my family physician and son, who said that my attitude and outlook was the most important thing that could help carry me through. My family had to know that I was willing to accept help. I had to keep going on with my life. I continued walking, running, kayaking, and volunteering. I didn’t hit a wall until I went back to work, which I understand can definitely happen. I had to go off work again and get some much needed help from the supportive care professionals at the Juravinski Cancer Centre. They helped me get back on track.
I was on vacation when I noticed some bruises that weren’t going away. My family physician saw me right away and in short order, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I was hospitalized in 2012 and I was sicker than I have ever been in my life. I had to confront treatment again. The one thing that kept me going was my doctor’s promise that I would finish my treatment before my 50th wedding anniversary. I finished my treatment on February 9 and my family and I went on a vacation to Mexico on February 13.
For me, the BRIGHTRUN is about people – Kathie Ward, an amazing oncology nurse who introduced me to the BRIGHTRUN at a dragonboating race; Margaret Forbes, another wonderful nurse who visited me in the hospital the day after I was admitted with leukemia; Nancy McMillan who introduced herself to me after seeing my personalized license plate; Dr. Ralph Meyer, the president of the Juravinski Cancer Centre, who walked and talked with me one year at the BRIGHTRUN. The BRIGHTRUN is also about family. Team Aleta is a true family effort. My sister-in-law and daughter-in-law walked in 2012 in my honour while I was in the hospital, too sick to attend.
I support the BRIGHTRUN because I feel blessed to be alive, to have been cared for by such amazing people at Juravinski Cancer Centre and I want to give back. Team Aleta is alive and well and will be at BRIGHTRUN 2015 in full force!