"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." These words from Dickens’ "A Tale of Two Cities" aptly describe my life in 2012.
The best of times began in April when my husband, Darryl, and I were married on a beautiful beach in Punta Cana. Back home in Port Elgin we celebrated again with all of our family and friends.
Our "happily ever after" was short-lived when I discovered a lump in my breast in October. A mammogram and biopsy confirmed cancer and within a matter of days I underwent surgery. Chemotherapy began in January 2013 (through some notorious Bruce County winter drives) and spring and early summer were spent in London for daily radiation treatments.
I opted for surgery and chemotherapy at the Owen Sound Regional Hospital to be closer to home and surrounded by the support of family and friends. I observed first-hand the less than ideal conditions that the excellent Oncology Department staff endures day in and day out.
Cramped quarters, with treatment chairs packed side-by-side, make it difficult for staff to administer medications and afford no privacy for patients. Oncologist’s offices on different floors make communication more difficult and time consuming. The waiting room area is spread out and though there are many caring and compassionate volunteers who try to make it a more welcoming place they certainly have their work cut out for them.
A centralized and modernized cancer care facility is required and essential in order to attract and retain oncologists and support staff and to maintain a high standard of care for cancer patients across Grey Bruce. Your generous donations to The Hospital Campaign will serve to improve the chemotherapy treatment experience and provide a more comfortable environment for patients and caregivers.
Not once would I ever have imagined that at 34 years of age I would be a cancer survivor. Obviously, it can happen to any of us, at any age, at any time.
Please give today.
Kelsey Hehn, Walkerton, ON
Kelsey woke up one morning and couldn't breathe.
This was just months after she'd graduated as a Heavy Equipment Operator from Conestoga College and was working in the family construction business.
"I went to see our doctor and he sent me for chest x-rays," Kelsey remembers. "It wasn't long after that they told me I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma."
"It was like the bottom fell out of our world," Kelsey's mom Pamela says, "it was just horrible, just unreal."
The family was referred to the Oncology Unit at the Owen Sound Regional Hospital.
"We went to that appointment braced for the worst," Pamela recalls, "and the first words out the doctor's mouth were 'We can cure that'. What a relief."
Kelsey started chemotherapy in what she refers to as 'the most positive, most upbeat environment', she could have imagined. "Everybody was so friendly and so helpful. They went out of her way to make sure that I had the best care."
Her mother admits they had doubts about cancer care in Owen Sound. Until Kelsey's diagnosis, they didn't know cancer care was available so close to home.
"At first we thought maybe Kelsey should go to a bigger hospital to get the best possible treatment. Then we met the doctors and staff in Owen Sound, and we knew the care was going to be the best she could get anywhere." Following chemo, Kelsey had radiation treatment and eventually, a bone marrow transplant.
Now 22, Kelsey is cancer free.
"The Hospital created new possibilities for me," Kelsey says. "Continuing on with my life is one. But they also gave me such a positive attitude. Every day is a gift and I plan to make the most of my life."
Creating Possibilities is the name of the video created for the Hospital Campaign. Watch the video below.
Almost every cancer diagnosis starts with a lab test, and once you have the test, you can determine the best course of treatment. The latest lab technology is crucial in ensuring a fast and accurate diagnosis.
Heather De Jong, Director, Laboratory Services, GBHS