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Betty’s breast cancer journey

By October 9, 2012Moments

Betty McKay is a former Classic LifeCare Nursing Supervisor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2008.

Other than regular life stressors which caused more fatigue she did not feel that anything was wrong until she visited the Doctor. Life changed that day for Betty, and for a lot of us and an emotional response followed between family & friends.

Betty had a Lumpectomy soon after– she laughed as she told us that the surgeon wanted take a little more, and then a little more still, until she finally caved and told them they may as well take the whole breast! Betty then had a full mastectomy.

This was followed by six treatments of chemotherapy and a tough time emotionally and physically as she watched all her hair go.

With her weight dropping, and humour as her foil, Betty suggested that the chemo was helping her get “bikini-ready” for a trip she and her husband were planning.

Betty took a full year off from Classic but returned in the fall of 2009 to work very part time and build up her hours again, as she regained her strength. At that time her parents’ health was suffering meaning she was spread pretty thin between work, home and Camrose, where her parents lived.

Betty’s father passed away in the fall of 2010. Just two days after the funeral, she received the unfortunate news that her cancer had returned. Her 18 month check up turned up a lump above the collar bone. Due to the location, surgery was not possible so she underwent four treatments of chemotherapy at a 25% lower dose so as not to be as severe on her body, yet sufficient enough. As time passed, they assessed the response to the treatment. The chemo did shrink the cancer but the decision was made to undergo radiation therapy, seeing her recieve 28 doses altogether.

As breast cancer will typically spread to the bone and the liver, tests and CT scans were performed, which fortunately all came back clear. They did confirm that the tissue from the first biopsy was connected to the second diagnosis.

Betty returned to a somewhat regular life feeling as positive as she could, in moving forward. She joined a Prayer Support Group with her church and belonged to a Prayer/Fasting Group for others. She was comforted and less afraid because of her faith.

Moving on, she suffered from depression/anxiety even though she felt she had been coping well. Everything around her that should have been joyful such as kids returning from University for the holidays and Christmas preparation, that she struggled along. She said that all the reasons to be happy, almost make you fear for the unknown even more.

Today, after low-dose treatment for depression and anxiety, she feels good. And looks incredible at age 62.

But she’s found herself questioning.

“Why? Why did it come back, was it something that I did? That feeling of being so close to the fear of what might be.”

Betty told us that she watches others carry on with their own lives for inspiration. These other women – who have been through depression and trial and treatment – have given Betty the perspective that she needs.

She has the Oncologist and wonderful support staff to thank, as wel as Classic LifeCare for the support and flexibility. She also points to the Breast Cancer Supportive Group who helped get a lot of her issues sorted and took a genuine interest in her life.

Betty’s husband has been a pillar of strength to her – taking a year off work himself. She confided that their marriage is stronger, that Curtis has stayed the course and has been devoted to pampering her, and that this has been a real demonstration of his character, she sees that he is there for the long haul.

There is now a strength within her family Betty nad not seen before. All six siblings in the family have pulled together to support her. In fact, her distant brother was the first to sponsor Betty for the Run for the Cure!

“This life isn’t forever, and it’s not like we won’t have burdens later in life. Aging alone is hard. Seeing what my parents went through…if your goal in life is to have a good time, well that gets thin after a while. Family is so important and strengthening those family ties is the real stuff.”