In 1968 Sara age 17 was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a type of lymphoma. Sara spent several weeks in Princess Margaret Hospital fighting for her life. Chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgery to remove her spleen took it’s toll, Sara’s body was emaciated, thin and gaunt. IV chemotherapy bruised and reddened her thin arms, her chest looked as though she was sunburnt. Sara should have been out enjoying life with her friends, not spending her 18th birthday in a hospital.
After several months of grueling chemotherapy and radiation treatments Sara finally won her battle with stage 4 Hogkin’s disease. Doctor’s had told Sara it was unlikely she would ever have children, her cancer treatments had done irreversible damage to her ovaries. Hormone replacement therapy was ordered to regulated her menstrual cycles. Sara defied the odds and in 1979 gave birth to a daugher.
For several years after her diagnosis Sara would have to follow up with her oncologist. At first it was every 6 months, then every year until finally every 5 years. By 2001 Sara had been cancer free for over 30 years!
Then the unthinkable happened. It was 2008 when Sara started to notice subtle changes in her left breast. The nipple seemed different, slightly indented. Sara didn’t pay much attention to this symptom not knowing it could be a sign of breast cancer. Sara also noticed she was more fatigued then usual and began to have night sweats. Sara thought she was still going through menopause and once again ignored her symptoms. Sara had a natural fear of Doctors, this fear had stopped her from getting regular check ups, Sara would only see the Doctor if she had an immediate concern. Sara couldn’t ignore her latest symptom, a brownish discharge coming from her left breast, she immediately contacted her family doctor.
Sara’s Doctor did not hesitate, she was booked for a mammogram the following week. This procedure is unconfortable but generally not painful. Sara waited in the little room anticipating her test, her heart raised with worry Sara had no idea what she was up against. It was only a few minutes into the mamogram when the nurse suddenly stopped the procedure and ask Sara to wait in the waiting area. Sara felt uneasy she knew by the nurse’s reaction something was wrong. Sara overheard the nurse paging the oncologist, her anxiety level was going through the roof. After what seemed like an eternity Sara was called back into the examining room, the usual 4 pictures were taken then another 4 pictures were added, these were concentrated on the nipple area of the left breast. Sara was again asked to remain in the waiting area.