Receive cancer as a gift
TESTIMONY – A cancer diagnosis is life changing. It transformed that of Sophie Reis, 38, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. And with her book A cancer as a gift, she hopes to equip people to better get through this ordeal.
Sophie Reis is this accomplished, curious 38-year-old woman, ambitious mother, but also that woman in four who was diagnosed with ravenous breast cancer that turned everything upside down.
The one who was bored during the pandemic wanted to lightenher list of social-seeking medical appointments. Surprised to have quickly had an appointment with her faithful gynecologist, who usually has a waiting list of several months, Sophie quickly realizes that the receptionist had set her an appointment with a colleague, by mistake. Her appointed gynecologist, seeing Sophie's file on her friend's pile, then decided to take her patient back. A gesture which may seem trivial, but which will change everything.
On her way to the exit door after her examination with her gynecologist, with whom she has a friendly relationship, the latter asks her how she is, in general. Sophie replies that she is fine, despite pain in her upper body, due to telework, according to her. Her gynecologist spontaneously replies that she has never examined her breasts, something she should remedy. Sophie goes back to bed on the table. She has dense, fibrocystic breasts like many women. Nothing abnormal. She still sends him for a mammogram when she has time, just to have reference imaging in the future. Appointment that Sophie will take quickly, not knowing that it would save her life.
“To relieve me of the inevitable stress that every woman experiences during an examination, [the radiologist] tells me that everything is perfectly normal, that my left breast is in good health and that he will check the same thing in the right breast. What he does. It's crazy, because even though I am convinced that I have nothing, the sight of the ultrasound probe in the hands of this specialist, I feel so vulnerable that my vital signs are agitated. Suddenly his features harden. He begins an endless photo shoot. I feel that something is wrong. Silence. He doesn't say anything to me anymore. He finishes his examination and invites me without any explanation to return to the mammography room. He needs more images”.
The author of a guide for traveling parents will learn on December 4, 2020 that she has breast cancer to be treated quickly. At first frightened, she quickly fell into journalist mode: “I was no longer a patient, I became a participant”, she tells us.
The one who says “live, learn, understand and transmit” has therefore written 626 pages of content on cancer in nine months, at the same time following her treatments. Divided into three chapters, his book speaks first of all of his journey in complete vulnerability. Then, you can read everything there is to understand about cancer, including its lexicon, the different stages and professionals to meet. She also indicates how to talk about it or support loved ones who suffer from it.
The book concludes with tools to complement your medical treatment. From hypnosis to financial support, she presents the device that allowed her to keep her diagnosis to herself for eleven months: the cooling helmet to try to keep her hair.
< p>“I made the decision to keep my diagnosis to myself for eleven months. It's difficult because I'm extrovert, I like to communicate to as many people as possible. But there I felt that I needed to refocus.”
It's a charity called Keep your hairwho provides this type of helmet, which was praised by the CHUS in a report published in 2010. How does it work? It cools the hair follicles, which limits the chemotherapy toxins that can reach them. In the report, we can read that “the weighted average of the results of all the studies thus indicates that this technology allows 63.5% of patients to have good preservation of their hair” while having “side effects considered as benign”. In Sophie's case, the process worked and she was able to keep her mane.
Besides, insurance companies reimburse it and the government considers it a medical expense.
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Talking about her journey, Sophie hopes to change the paradigms surrounding cancer: “Often when you hear that someone has cancer, you immediately think of the fact that they are going to die. One in 34 people will die from breast cancer, but there are 33 more who will live on. It might as well go. This is a message that I want to pass on”.
Sophie has also completed her active treatments since January 19, 2022. She has been in remission for two years.
< p>Why a Cancer as a gift?
“Basically, a Cancer is not a gift for anyone. But along this journey, we realize that there are several nuggets, several gifts. They are often people who sprinkle our experience, who transform it, so that you end up looking for something good. Because cancer isn't just bad.”
Uncanceren gift: learn, understand and equip yourself to act will be in bookstore on February 22 across Canada.
Courtesy, A cancer as a gift
To follow Sophie's digital diary, it's here.