Martine Chartrand

Having cancer at the age of 30 turns your life upside down. There are obstacles to be overcome and losses to be mourned, but life is so beautiful that I keep charging ahead, not thinking about tomorrow.
 

Stay positive, no matter what!

Having cancer at the age of 30 turns your life upside down. There are obstacles to be overcome and losses to be mourned, but life is so beautiful that I keep charging ahead, not thinking about tomorrow. I savour every single day, and when I’m having a good one, I enjoy it as much as possible by doing fun things with my boyfriend, friends and family. No matter what happens, I stay positive, because I firmly believe in the power of the mind.
 
I never imagined that my life would take such a turn. I was in my early thirties when I noticed that the tiny lump I had on one of my breasts – the size of a grain of salt – had gotten bigger. I went for a mammogram and a biopsy and, after an agonizing 10-day wait, was told I had breast cancer. I underwent chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiation therapy.
 
After all these treatments, I was home free! I had been in remission for three years and was just starting to make wonderful plans with my boyfriend. I did have pain at times, but I told myself it was normal; it was probably due to my breast reconstruction surgery or maybe just a pulled muscle from my workout. But one day, I started gasping for breath for no reason. That’s when I decided to go to the hospital. The cancer had metastasized to my bones and liver.
 
I know that I will never be cured. I will always have metastases in my body, but I refuse to give up! My spirits are high as I focus on the good things in my life. I am doing everything I can for a positive outcome. I’ve changed my diet and make a lot of sacrifices for my health, but it’s what I need to do. And my boyfriend is always there, encouraging me whenever I need it.
 
During my cancer treatments, I was also able to count on the services of the Quebec Cancer Foundation. My boyfriend and I used the telephone peer matching service. We were both able to talk with someone who had gone through the same thing. It really helped us feel reassured and less anxious. I also attended the Look Good Feel Better workshop offered at the Foundation. It made me feel better about myself. The women running the workshop give us great tips on how to look our best and highlight our most positive features. The Foundation also has a great selection of wigs to loan.
 
The Foundation recently launched a Website for people 15 to 39 with cancer and their families. I think it’s great for people my age, because our reality and needs are different. We might be a minority, but we need help too. So it’s encouraging to know that there are services tailored to our situation.
 
In closing, I have a message for everyone affected by cancer: don’t ever give up! Stay positive, since your body will follow the dictates of your mind.
 
Martine Chartrand

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