It can be tough to find the positive when you are told you have cancer but Lisa Davidson from Regina tried to do just that.
Just before the Labour Day Long Weekend in 2016, her suspicions were confirmed…breast cancer.
“I guess I just knew in my heart what it likely was because, what are the chances it isn’t when you have a lump under your armpit and in your breast,” she says.
The prognosis was good but she would still require chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiation.
“I didn’t even question whether I was going to beat it or not. I just knew I was going to kick ass as much as I could,” Lisa explains.
Finding the positive came in two forms. First, Lisa didn’t hide her cancer. She’d seen the effects on another patient who kept it secret.
“I decided I was going to let whoever wanted to help me, help me. I wasn’t going to go it alone.”
The second thing was developing a routine. Realizing her treatment would mean the social worker would be off work for the foreseeable future, she looked at it as a positive in that she was getting a rare opportunity to spend time with her son who was entering high school. Her husband was at work during the day and their older daughter was away at university.
“I was going to be at home and my son’s going into high school. I’m going to be able to teach him study skills. I’m going to be able to help guide his high school career by setting the stage in grade 9,” Lisa said.
After one round of chemotherapy, Lisa knew which days would be good and bad. This meant she made sure to have help when she was too tired. She also kept a schedule with her son, rested when she needed and maintained a healthy diet, plus exercised regularly.
“It made me feel like I had purpose. It helped keep stability in the home. It helped to show my son, daughter and husband that we can go through something difficult, but we still need to keep doing the things that we do.”
While her chemotherapy went well, radiation was more difficult. She admits to having claustrophobia and while being on the machine for her Computed Tomography (CT) Simulation or being positioned in the Linear Accelerator to receive radiation there were times her claustrophobia took over. She says the staff were amazing to help her through this.
“They knew what I needed,” Lisa says. “Looking back, they must have thought I was a wacko but they were always there to help me and walk me through whatever.”
Lisa says one of the most important parts of her recovery was a song. As a runner, a friend said she needed to listen to “I Run For Life”, by Melissa Etheridge. Lisa’s friend says she was running for her. That song is now central to Lisa’s playlist.
“I am running for those who have cancer, have had cancer, and are battling cancer. Knowing that people are fighting and have fought for their lives makes me run and challenge myself everyday.”
As Lisa sits and reflects on what the effects of cancer had on her and her family, a couple of things come to mind. First, her family is closer than ever. Second, Lisa has continued to be even more of a positive person than she was before cancer, trying to be there for people walking the same journey she did.
“It’s a world nobody understands unless you’ve gone through it. So, just being there to support other people to show them that I did okay, and they can make it through to.”
And for Lisa, part of ensuring people have the chance to make it through their journey like she did, is making sure the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency has the equipment and resources necessary. That’s why she’s supporting the purchase of two new CT Simulators for the Agency.