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Column: Cancer is personal for me

Recent fundraiser caused reflections on battles with cancer.
Stephanie Zoer
Stephanie Zoer

After attending the Creative Tables fundraiser recently, that evening brought back a lot of emotions for me.

I listened to the horrific stories of the ladies that have battled, not only breast cancer, but other cancers as well.

One of the scariest things a doctor can tell a person is, “I am sorry, but it is cancer.”

I know this feeling as I heard these words 30 years ago.

This all came flooding back as I sat and listened and wrote down key notes from that evening.

I was a young wife and mom of two children. I was not sure how my daughter would react or even understand as she is special needs and at that time had the mental capability of a five-year-old. My son, on the other, did understand and said he would no longer talk to me, because I was going to die, just like his Uncle Albert.

My dear brother-in-law had passed away two years before this of colon cancer, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, and it did not look good, and now me. My dad passed away the following year.

My world came crashing down. I already had health issues that required several surgeries and now this.

And how in the world do you explain to young children that you are not going to die. I frankly did not know this, but I did not want my children to live in fear.

When I think back on those days, they are foggy. I found out in July and had surgery in September, the day after my wedding anniversary.

I remember waking up and the doctor telling me they got it all and seeing a boutique of red roses from my husband.

I felt lucky. I did not need chemotherapy or radiation.

Needless to say, the emotions are the same. The fear is always there, but you learn to live with it.

I have always been a firm believer in getting things checked out. Pap tests, mammograms and knowing your body. Early detection is key and why mine was caught so early.

Ten years later my sister had ovarian cancer. She was not as lucky as me, she did need to go through treatment and lost all her hair. Although she lost her hair, her wig was amazing, and no one knew it was one.

She too, is lucky as she has been cancer free for over 15 years now.

Cancer runs in both our families, so I worry about my children. My husband’s mom had breast cancer and so did my dad’s sister. My sister-in-law just had a lumpectomy.

Being diligent about testing is so important. It is an hour out of your life to have a mammogram. Mind you, if you go to Regina, it may be longer, but one can always make a day of shopping out of it.

I wish programs like Look Good, Feel Better were available back then, as it could have helped a lot of us who struggled alone.

I think about it every day, the thought never really goes away, but as you go through this, know that there are great support teams out there.

Do not delay, get your tests done, it could make an enormous difference.


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