Melissa is one of the 26,000 women in Canada that was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Like many women, her treatment consisted of surgery, chemo, and radiation.
One of Melissa’s favourite hobbies is knitting. She also volunteers a lot of her time training service dogs for those in need. At the time of her diagnosis, she was training a dog named “Jello”. The beautiful black pup could be seen by her side everywhere she went. As Melissa went from appointment to appointment, treatment to treatment, Jello was always by her side. She says having Jello there, with her at every appointment was very calming. Taking care of Jello reminded her there were other things happening around her outside of her cancer journey.
If she could give advice to someone going through the same thing, she would tell them to “Ask more questions!”. The patient perspective sometimes gets lost when speaking to a lot of health care professionals. Like most, she felt lonely at the beginning. By connecting with other cancer survivors, she knew more about what to expect, and what questions to ask her health care providers. Some of the important lessons she’s learned from it all are to take rest between steps. Don’t try to rush through everything and give your body time to heal. “Recovery takes time and you can’t push it to go faster,” she says. With the help of physio, she’s now trying to improve her cardio by walking her dog farther each day. She’s getting strength back in her arms which has allowed her to continue her hobby of knitting.