Dolores Chavanelle

At the Foundation, a team of compassionate volunteers and employees welcomed me. I also found great comfort in the other residents. We were all coping with a similar situation and supporting each other in our journeys.

At the age of 37 during a breast self-exam, I felt something under my fingers. I talked about it with my family doctor who told me not to worry. Two years later, the lump was still there. I managed to book a mammogram because I knew that the lump was abnormal. There was something happening with my body: I could feel it. The mammogram, the ultrasound and the biopsy proved me right. I had a 5-cm cancerous tumour in my breast with metastases to my liver, pancreas, and sternum. I was diagnosed with a stage III breast cancer. Many things swirled around my head, including the consequences of that two-year wait.
 
In spite of it all, I accepted the diagnosis quickly because in my mind, it was obvious. For my husband, it was a different story: it came as a huge shock. It was difficult for him to imagine me afflicted with cancer. A good friend, who went through a similar ordeal in the past, was of great support to him. He was there for him through the different stages of cancer, and it was reassuring for my husband to have some ideas of what was about to happen next.
 
I was treated at Hôpital de Trois-Rivières where I had my first round of chemotherapy. A left mastectomy followed, and then came radiation treatment. Given the location of cancer cells, the treatments could not be done in Trois-Rivières where the equipment was not precise enough and would have increased the risk of heart failure. So I went to the Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal every day over a period of five weeks. I had never driven in the big city and the idea scared me a little.
 
I was referred to the hostel of the Quebec Cancer Foundation, which provided me with safe and affordable lodgings. You see, as a mom of two without any income insurance, I could not afford the cost of a hotel room and living expenses for five weeks. In addition to the physical and psychological impacts, cancer also carries a considerable financial burden. Fortunately, there are resources available, including the accommodation centres of the Foundation. My husband and family also offered huge support during my hardships.
 
So I left my region to undergo treatments in Montreal. I had been told that the hostel was not far from the hospital, but what a delight to find it located just across the way! At the Foundation, a team of compassionate volunteers and employees welcomed me. I also found great comfort in the other residents. We were all coping with a similar situation and supporting each other in our journeys.
 
I’m very grateful to the Quebec Cancer Foundation. Its very affordable accommodations and support services minimized the repercussion of cancer on my daily life, giving me the chance to focus on my well-being and recovery.
 
I just had my last treatment and I’m now entering a new phase of my life. With cancer, I inherited new priorities. I concentrate on what is essential, i.e. my happiness and the happiness of my friends and family. I no longer see life the same way: I savour it! 
 
Dolorès Chavanelle

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