The following resources were invaluable to me on my journey. If you’re dealing with breast cancer and you live in Manitoba, please consider starting here.
BREAST CANCER CENTRE OF HOPE (Wolseley Ave) – Your first line of support after diagnosis. We met with the nurse educator as soon as I had the results of my biopsy. She went over all of the information that had been thrown at me and helped us make sense of it. We also discussed treatment options and what I might expect. She also spelled out my prognosis and clarified the meaning of the statistics coming at me from different directions. It was a calm and peaceful place with mugs of hot coffee and lots of time for questions. There were brochures and pamphlets to take home as well as books available in the lending library.
After active treatment is finished, the Moving Beyond workshop at the Breast Cancer Centre of Hope was beneficial. Survivors and caregivers spend a day together going over what life looks like after you’re done. We discussed ongoing drug treatments, dealing with side effects etc. as well as how cancer has affected relationships with caregivers and friends.
CANCERCARE MB – Health Sciences (McDermot Ave) – also has a lending library, and the home of the Look Good, Feel Better program. I took full advantage of this – and it was empowering and even fun to spend the evening with other bald women trying to apply makeup and head coverings so others might be fooled into thinking that we’re doing better than we actually look! The box of free makeup and products was amazing too.
Hereditary Genetics Testing – Health Sciences (William Ave) – if your family is suspected of having a genetic component to breast or ovarian cancer, you can be referred by your doctor to be tested. You meet with a counsellor prior to testing to discuss the pros and cons of being tested and what the results could mean to your family for the future.
THE BREAST HEALTH CENTRE (Tache – across from St. Boniface Hospital) –
Physiotherapy – This was so helpful. I was dealing with cording and painful nerve tissue
damage immediately after my second surgery. The physiotherapist was very knowledgeable and encouraging. She also helped me understand what effect radiation could have on my already compromised chest and arm and how to counteract that. She was right but we worked on it together (I did what I needed to do to exercise and strengthen at home) and managed to regain and maintain full range of motion. She also informed me about lymphedema and ways of avoiding it or keeping it minimal.
Mental Health therapy – I met with a social worker once on site and also had a few phone chats with her. This was beneficial in so many ways. It was encouraging to find out that what I was feeling was a normal process. I was given some coping strategies and ideas for non-medication ways I could deal with the confusion, depression and frustrations that surface during cancer treatment and beyond. It’s good to talk to someone other than a spouse, family or friend – someone who is knowledgeable about breast cancer, treatments and the mental/emotional component of the journey. I’m sure they’ve heard it all before.
Eat Well, Get Fit, Live Well program – I’m registered for this 6 week program for the fall session. I’ll let you know how it goes. I was told that I would be meeting with a personal trainer for exercise and a dietician for accountability and tips on healthy eating and food diaries.
VICTORIA HOSPITAL – WOMEN’S HEALTH CENTRE (Pembina Hwy)
You need a dr.’s referral to see the medical staff at this centre. They deal with women who are having trouble with menopausal symptoms. Because I was forced into instant menopause after my oopherectomy, I was dealing with some pretty tough stuff. I met with a nurse educator, a gynaecologist, a dietician and a pharmacist who all tried to help me cope with the changes happening in my body. I was armed with some great advice about adding supplements like calcium, Vit.D, and exercise. Advice and counselling about sexual issues that surface as a side effect of treatment are dealt with here too.