“About two years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctors found 11 tumours in my breast,” recalled Sandra Kuzyk. “Now, I’m post-treatment, and I’m living my life and I’m loving it.”
Kuzyk was a dedicated registered nurse, who most recently worked with St. Joseph’s Care Group, and had always made sure she went for her routine cancer screening. “I had been for my routine mammograms, and was aware of my health. However, I noticed a change in my breast that made me go and see my doctor, and we investigated it and it turned out to be cancer.”
After undergoing six months of chemotherapy to shrink the tumours, Kuzyk was able to go for surgery. This was followed by 25 rounds of radiation. “All of my treatment was done in Thunder Bay, close to home and family which I appreciated. I also found out that there are many options for reconstruction which is good to know.”
During and post-treatment, Kuzyk felt herself sinking into a slump. She had isolated herself and was feeling depressed. Initially, she didn’t want to start attending a support group because she didn’t want to sit around with a group of women who were complaining and feeling sorry for themselves. But, she begrudgingly went and what she found was the complete opposite.
“The Breast Cancer Support Group is a dynamic and awesome group of ladies. They share their honest stories and experiences which you can really relate to. There is no judgement, and in addition to the emotional support they make it fun. They have been so helpful for me,” explained Kuzyk.
Kuzyk has always made an effort to lead an active life, and in particular, has always enjoyed the outdoors. When she completed treatment, she signed up for the Wellness and Exercise Program for Individuals Living with Cancer (WE-Can Program), a 10-week guided exercise and healthy lifestyle program that targets people who are currently in cancer treatment or up to five years post-treatment. Kuzyk’s goal was to regain her strength and core fitness levels so she could get back to her life.
“Since the WE-Can Program, I hiked Iceland with my daughter, and I also got involved in my new passion – dragon boating with the Dragons of Hope breast cancer survivor dragon boat team. Dragon boating just makes me feel so alive. I am still a rookie, but I absolutely love it,” said Kuzyk. “The Dragons of Hope came to me at a good time, just as I was trying to find something that would help me to improve my lifestyle after treatment. But it’s so much more than just dragon boating to me. It’s friendships and support too.”
When asked about what advice she has for women, she said “Do your due diligence. Go and do all of your health checks and screening. Book your mammogram; there is no excuse not to go in this day and age. Finally, just know that breast cancer is treatable, there’s support for you out there.”
Kuzyk continues to improve her life post-cancer to make sure she gets the most out of every day. “I want to enjoy my family and friends. My husband is now retired, and we just re-booked our trip to China, which we had to cancel after I was diagnosed. I don’t want anything to slow me down now. Everyone should know that there is life after breast cancer.”
Women between the ages of 50 and 74 years should be screened for breast cancer every two years with a mammogram. Women can book their mammogram without a referral from a health care provider. Call (807) 684-7777 or 1-800-461-7031 to book your mammogram today. For more information on cancer screening, visit www.tbrhsc.net/cancerscreening. You can learn your risk of developing six different types of cancer, including breast cancer, using a confidential online risk assessment tool at www.mycanceriq.ca.