After being diagnosed with breast cancer, a Hawkesville resident is encouraging other women to get tested for the disease.
In March, Lori Brubacher went for her routine mammogram test after receiving a reminder in the mail. Later that day she was told she needed to go for follow-up testing and had a biopsy confirming her condition a few weeks later.
Brubacher explained she was not feeling any symptoms before her initial test, meaning the cancer would have gone undetected.
“I would strongly encourage anyone who has that notice come to them to pursue it, because it was only because of that routine screening that my cancer was discovered. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had reason to think that I had something going on. It’s a huge program that is really important for everyone to participate in,” Brubacher said.
“[It’s] not something that anyone ever expects to have part of their life journey,” she said.
Undergoing treatment since April, Brubacher explained that it is her religion, along with her family and friends that have kept going and given her a feeling of peace instead of panic.
“My younger sister actually had the exact same diagnosis three years ago, and she went through the exact same kind of treatment that I’m doing right now. She’s been a real encouragement to me that she’s now recovered and doing well. To have already witnessed someone close to me go through it and see how well she did with the treatment that was given, that was encouraging,” she added.
The hardest part was telling her family and friends, Brubacher explained. Her daughter Alyshia said it was a shock to hear.
‘There were tears at first there was a bit of worry, especially with her being a single mom, the thought of losing the one parent that you have the anchor in your life, the thought of losing that is obviously terrifying. But I think after a few days of processing, it was more like, ‘OK, we’re going to move forward, what are we going to do?’” Alyshia added.
For her treament, Brubacher went to chemotherapy at Grand River Hospital every other week. The medication administered through an intravenous port have their own risks on top of the cancer.
“Then there was obviously recovery time afterwards fatigue, some nausea, some, varying symptoms that aren’t the same necessarily for one person to the next. There’s concerns about what that does to your white blood cell count,” Lori said.
“The struggle always with treating cancer is how do you kill the cancer cells without killing the patient? Because they have to hit you with very toxic drugs to wipe out the cancer. But that does take a toll on your body, as well.”
Side effects of the medication include dry skin, mouth sores and hair loss.
Brubacher will not be starting on weekly treatments until the fall, and she will require surgery afterwards.
Because of the toll the treatments take, it is unclear how much she will be able to work, if at all. It could potentially take until next year before she can return. Although her treatment is covered by OHIP, there is still some financial concern for her family, Lori explained.
“When you’re a single parent raising four kids, life keeps going, there’s still bills that have to be paid and the financial needs, and I’m now on EI, but EI only covers a certain percentage of your income. It doesn’t cover everything.”
However the family had already gotten support from both people close to them and others they don’t know, including at a barbecue fundraiser last Saturday.
“[It’s] a great feeling of being supported by your church, family and local businesses and neighbours and friends,” Lori said.
Those wanting to provide support can visit loriscancerjourney.com for more information.