Relive the experiences described in the inspiring stories told by people close to the foundation.

 “I helped her find her light at the end of the tunnel.”

My experience with breast cancer, the treatment, the mastectomy and all the trials and tribulations that go with it created in me a need to discover how I can help other women who are going through the same experience.
Throughout my treatment, I was able to benefit from the services of the Quebec Cancer Foundation. So it was natural that I should choose to volunteer for them. The team in Quebec City, where I live, suggested I join the telephone peer matching service.

I was immediately struck by this. Because of all I had been through, I knew how deeply anxious you can be even before your diagnosis is announced, the unbearable waiting and the fear that devours you along the way.
The matching process for volunteers is relatively simple: Susan from the Foundation’s team would contact me whenever a woman with breast cancer needed companionship.

The frequency of the calls is decided naturally, depending on our respective availabilities and needs. I usually talk to them once a week. Needs vary a lot, because each person is different and there is no one way to live with the disease. Some people need precise advice or technical information, for example about how to wear the prosthesis or the specific details of the treatments, while others need to express their anguish and talk about it. And that's where my attentive ear comes in. I try to respond as best I can, and I never forget to don my breast cancer cap. That’s where my contribution lies, no more, no less.

And depending on different needs, the length of our conversations can vary too. Some stop calling all by themselves when they feel they have all the answers to their questions. Others maintain the bond with me far longer, like this lady I’ve been talking to from time to time for the past two years.
With every call, I feel like I have helped them be stronger in the face of cancer—and for me that is mission accomplished! In some of our conversations I could feel how essential my role was in the lives of these women, who were sometimes very lonely and in great distress. I will always remember this one woman’s answer to my question “Who supports you most through your ordeal?” “My pets”, she replied, her voice full of resilience. That's when I realized the importance of my role: I had accompanied her toward finding her own light at the end of the tunnel.
All these exchanges are so rewarding for me! They allow me to move forward in my own life and feel blessed to have come through the ordeal of cancer. I feel privileged too: for having an extraordinary support network and excellent doctors. Some people, however, have to live with their cancer under very hard conditions, due to lack of money, lack of support... in fact, one lady I was paired with had to carry on going to work during her chemotherapy!
If I‘m better today, it’s thanks to the whole world of support I have benefitted from and all the advice of my close friends and family that came just at the right time. Especially this one friend, who had a decisive impact when I was feeling immense pain after my mastectomy: “If you’re unable to accept the mastectomy, welcome it.” That was a precious piece of advice that I never hesitate to share with everyone whom I accompany a little way on their journey, from the other end of the telephone line.
The Quebec Cancer Foundation’s support was also precious to me personally, right when I needed it most.

Beside the psychological pain I mentioned, there is also the physical side of cancer: loss of weight, hair, energy and so on. Physically, I was someone else. At the Foundation, there were many services I could benefit from, including Qi Gong, yoga, the library and massages. But beyond the activities, I was deeply moved by the human contact with the Foundation's team: the respect and support of the Qi Gong teacher when my body was not able to follow the exercises, the way the massage therapist greeted my pain...
I wish that every woman who has to endure what I went through can receive the support I received from the Quebec Cancer Foundation: living through the anxiety of the diagnosis, going through treatment, surviving in a new body, adapting to a new reality... all that takes support.

Comment on this article