Julie Gauvin

"I went through the gamut of diagnostic tests, surgery and treatments. It was horrible and difficult, but the care was exceptional. I felt lucky to live in Ottawa and be privy to all of these brilliant medical professionals and services."


One morning in November 2008 I found a lump in my breast. I had been for a physical less than 5 months before and it hadn’t been detected. I’m very logical about matters of health and called my doctor that day just to follow it up. I wasn’t nervous; just saw it as a practical follow-up. I was scheduled for an ultrasound and mammogram a few days before Christmas, and went on about my business until these appointments arrived.

My journey with breast cancer began a few days after Christmas in 2008. When I answered the phone that morning, I never expected to hear those horrific words from my doctor - - “It’s not good. It’s very likely cancer.” Terror ran through every vessel in my body. My baby Jake had not yet turned two, my son Will was 6, and my daughter Anna was only 8.....and they were all home with me that morning.

I stood shocked in my living room. I sobbed when I called my husband and told him. I didn’t realize that my dear daughter and son were sitting on the stairs to the basement listening to this unfold. They knew something was terribly wrong. My eight year said with wide eyes, “Mommy do you have cancer?” It’s a moment etched in my mind forever.

I went through the gamut of diagnostic tests, surgery and treatments. It was horrible and difficult, but the care was exceptional. I felt lucky to live in Ottawa and be privy to all of these brilliant medical professionals and services. My family, friends, colleagues and community were pillars of strength and support to me, my husband and children. Good solid people surrounded us.

There is no doubt about it; this past year has been the toughest year of my life. But I’m still here. And that made it a good year.

Two years ago, an amazing group of people and lifelong friends participated in The Weekend to End Women’s Cancers in my honour. I was in the midst of chemotherapy treatments, and could only cheer my friends on from the sidelines. Words can’t describe the power and love that I felt in those two days. I was sick with chemo, tired, bald, and feeling battered, but those women buoyed my soul and lifted me up to keep going. It was absolute pure joy; an experience like none other that really carried me through the rest of my treatments.  It felt like sunshine in a horrible storm.

I swore that the next year I would be there right along with them.  And I was.  We raised lots of money that went directly to the facilities in Ottawa to treat patients and fight cancer.  It was fun and powerful and I was so happy that I was able to do it!!

Too many women face what I’ve gone through - the statistics are staggering with more than one in seven women being affected. That’s our daughters, our mothers, our best friends, and our neighbours facing these diseases.

Maybe by the time Anna is an adult, she won't have to face this disease. I hope.


Julie Gauvin, Ottawa Walker


 

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