When a woman receives a diagnosis of breast cancer, her life changes on a dime. Priorities and perspectives shift; family circles tighten; day-to-day chores start to revolve around medical appointments, tests, procedures and treatments. Like Odysseus’s voyage home, women with breast cancer are trying to return to wellness—and often find themselves utterly changed by their experiences along the way.
“This certainly wasn’t a journey that I had planned or even contemplated taking,” said Evelyn Cutts from Fernie. “It was a turn in life that found me—I didn’t go looking for it. (But) right from the first day, I decided to view this as part of my journey through life.”
Evelyn decided to approach her unintentional odyssey with the attitude that she had something to gain from the experience, life lessons to learn and important people to meet along this path.
“The bend in the road has made me look at life differently,” she said. “So many people say this, but for me, it has been a chance to slow down, look at what is really important and learn to let go of some things.”
Evelyn’s family helped to keep her spirits high. Her husband, Bob, their children and sons-in-law— Heather, Jennifer, James, Bryan, William and Daniel—and Cutt’s sister, Susan, were her constant companions on her journey. Her grandchildren made her laugh by rubbing her newly shaved head.
Susan kept track of appointments so Evelyn could keep her focus on the horizon, where wellness waited.
Her family was the compass, the guiding force, while Evelyn and Bob concentrated on travelling forward.
Evelyn’s community was there for her as well—church members, fellow Rotarians, women she worked out with at Curves. At no point along the road did Evelyn feel like she was alone.
“Knowing this made the journey much easier and sometimes even fun,” she said, “lots of laughs at times and never tears of sadness.”
Evelyn knows that she was lucky that she could be treated so close to home, and praised the excellent doctors and nurses that were with her from beginning to end. An early diagnosis and the availability of care meant that she was never far from her support system—something that isn’t always a given for women living in rural B.C. Knowing this is one of the reasons why she is so supportive of the East Kootenay Foundation for Health’s (EKFH) upcoming campaign, A Clear View.
Launching in October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, EKFH has launched a two-year, $1-million campaign to purchase a digital stereotactic mammography unit for the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.
The new machine will mean earlier, more accurate diagnoses of abnormalities within the breast, and the ability to perform stereotactic biopsies will allow many regional patients to be treated close to home— and close to the support systems that are vital on the road back to health. That’s what Evelyn wants for everyone on a similar pilgrimage.
“I have never been alone on this journey,” she said, “and that made the bad days better. I have been blessed.”
For more information on A Clear View, please visit www.aclearview.ca or call the East Kootenay Foundation for Health at 250-489-6481.