Brenda Berube, Taber Terry Fox Committee
These are words no one wants to hear! Last May these are the words that Trina Gedny was told by her Dr. Near the end of April she had discovered a lump in her left breast. She made an appointment for a mammogram the following week. Trina knew she had an increased risk of Breast Cancer because her Mother and her cousin had been through Breast Cancer treatment. When she went for her mammogram they also did an ultrasound, and the technician advised her results would be sent to her Dr. and he would contact her. She left feeling she already knew the answer. Later that same day she had a call from her Dr. asking where Brent was (Trina’s husband) and if she could come in. She said to her Dr. I have Breast Cancer don’t I? He would not confirm her suspicions over the phone and asked her to come into his office with Brent. She called her husband at work, and recalls she callously said “I have cancer can you come home and come to the Dr. with me”. She and Brent went to the Dr. that afternoon and it was confirmed she did in fact have breast cancer. A biopsy was booked for the following week, and a needle was inserted to remove some of the tissue from her breast to confirm the diagnosis. They decided not to tell anyone of her diagnosis for a few weeks. There was a period of time needed to absorb it all, and Trina wanted to know what her treatment plan would be first before telling her kids. She wanted to keep things as normal as possible for them. The girls were busy in their sports and Chase was graduating. She did not want her diagnosis to consume them!
The next step was to see a surgeon in Lethbridge who referred her to Calgary. Trina decided to have a double mastectomy in Calgary where they could perform reconstructive surgery at the same time. She was put on a cancelation list, and May 18th she underwent surgery to remove both of her breasts and have them reconstructed. After a short stay in the hospital, she returned home to recover and await the results of her pathology. Trina had genetic testing done, only to discover she is not a carrier of the breast cancer gene. The genetic counsellor told her she got cancer because she got it, not because of a genetic link!
During this recovery period is where I became a support in Trina’s cancer recovery. I use yoga to work with cancer patients going through treatment, and post treatment. Trina had heard me speak of this work in the past and she contacted me and asked if I would work with her. Trina is a fellow member of the Taber Terry Fox Committee and a friend. I was honoured to support her during her recovery. We met once a week to practice a yoga class designed specifically for her and where she was at physically and mentally. The emotional and mental strain that comes with being diagnosed with cancer is enormous. She learned to meditate to free her mind of the fear and anxiety this diagnosis brings. The physical practice of yoga helped her to regain her range of motion in her arms and to gain her physical strength back. A cancer diagnosis is stressful for everyone, even more so when you are a parent to three children. Putting on a brave face so as not to worry your children comes at a price of withholding a lot of fear. The shower became her place of release, a place she could cry and let it all out! She also took solace in meditation in her back yard. Meditation became a daily practice and combined with our weekly yoga she found a safe space to let go of the fear and anxiety she lived with. She is eternally grateful for everyone that offered support.
The friends she walked with in the morning, the friends and family who brought food to ease the workload at home. The friends who called and visited helped to keep some normalcy at home. She advises other cancer patients, take the help you are offered!
Over the next three weeks Trina grew in physical strength, and with the support of friends, yoga and meditation to ease the mental burden of cancer she recovered from the surgery. She had been awaiting the results of the pathology from her surgery to learn what her treatment protocol would be, and was beginning to become impatient as to why it was taking so long. She received a call from her Dr. advising her that the pathologist said there was no cancer in the pathology. Her Dr. was extremely apologetic and advised that in the twenty years that she has been a surgeon this had never happened before. Somehow they had missed the cancer and it must still be in her chest. You can imagine the range of emotions that one would go through having just been told this news. An appointment was made for a scan which confirmed the tumor was still in her chest. Within days she was back in surgery in Calgary and all of the cancer was removed. The tumor was very near to her chest wall and had been missed in the first surgery. The recovery process began again!
When you are diagnosed with Cancer it consumes a huge portion of your thought process. It is on your mind constantly, so yoga and meditation became a safe haven for getting into a head space where she didn’t think about the cancer. It was a time to let that stuff go! The stuff we carry around and push down deep inside. The stuff we hide from our kids and husband, so they don’t worry. It became an important part of her mental recovery.
In August she began the first of four chemotherapy treatments. That first treatment walking into the hospital, into that room, was one of the hardest things she has ever done. Brent was there for every treatment by her side. Day one of chemo was good they went out for dinner, day two good, day three it hit!
Nausea, every inch of her body hurt, exhaustion, and it stayed for weeks. She developed peripheral neuropathy, tingling in her hands, elbows and feet, so her next treatment had to be pushed back. Treatment number three was not as strong as the first and second, in hopes of reducing the side effects, but treatment three had to be pushed back as well. Her hair began to fall out right after the first treatment. She said it bothered her far more than she expected it would, so to cope she let her girls give her radical hair cuts, bringing a little humour to the situation! She said when she looks back in the grand scheme of things it seems silly to have been upset about losing her hair! Her hair is back already beautiful curly and thick! She took four treatments of chemotherapy over three months finishing at the end of October. She appears physically strong and looks fully recovered, but there is still neuropathy, pain in her ankles and tingling in her feet. Sadly it’s a side effect that a lot of cancer patients suffer post chemotherapy. Hopefully time will remedy it.
Trina is finished her treatment and is recovering well. She is diligent with her follow up and preventative procedures, but she doesn’t let cancer consume her life anymore. She is admittedly more sensitive, and doesn’t sweat the small stuff anymore. Her advice to her family if you don’t like what you are doing change it. Life is too precious to do something you don’t like, don’t waste your time! Trina is positive and full of gratitude for life and everyone that supported her recovery. Her wish is that someday she can pay it forward and support someone else through a crisis.
Cancer can be beaten Trina is living proof! She is special to the Taber Terry Fox Committee. She is one of us. On September 15, 2018 the Terry Fox Run will be held in Taber. Registration begins at 8:30 am and Run at 9:00 am. Pledge sheets will be available at various places around town or you can sponsor yourself the day of the run. The Terry Fox Run donates .82 cents of every dollar it collects directly to cancer research.
Dr. Greg Czarnota, a Terry Fox Research Institute Funded Researcher, of Sunny Brook Health Sciences in Ontario published a study in The British Journal of Cancer (April 2017). His findings has potential to guide treatment, improve Breast Cancer Therapeutics, and may even improve overall disease free survival. Your donated dollars supported this research.
Predicting breast cancer response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy using pre-treatment diffuse optical spectroscopic texture analysis
Thank you Trina for sharing your cancer story! We are all grateful you are back to volunteer at this 2018 Terry Fox Run! We dedicate this year’s run to you!