I’m Brenda Johima, and I’m 53 years old.
I’ve never had to write about myself having breast cancer before. I’ve been trying to write this “about” page for many weeks. I’d like to give you the basics.
On April 17th, 2014, I was given a breast cancer diagnosis.
It was an invasive grade 3/3 cancer.
I found a lump in my right breast in December 2013, and went immediately to a walk-in clinic, as my doctor was away. After examination, was told that definitely there was a lump there and the physician ordered an “urgent” mammogram and ultrasound. This was December 24th. Merry Christmas 2013 to me. The mammogram came back that I needed an “urgent” breast biopsy.
So from December 24th, 2013 to April 2nd 2014, I waited and waited and waited (for many reasons) for my biopsy. Let’s just say there were many glitches and I fell through a few cracks in the medical system. It worked out in the end, as it was grateful for the surgeon that I have, and for the procedure that they did.
I had an excisional breast biopsy under general anesthesia in Comox, British Columbia, Canada, on April 2nd. I had a fabulous surgeon. I’m grateful I had an excisional biopsy, rather than via the usual method.
The biopsy came back as a grade 3, invasive breast cancer.
I don’t think anybody was expecting this, as I’ve lived a healthy and active lifestyle for most of my life, have never tried a cigarette, and generally eat very healthy foods, walk 5-10K daily, am an avid lake, pool and ocean swimmer, and have done whatever I could to minimize risk factors, with the life I lived.
Cancer hits anybody at random, apparently.
Since the biopsy I have also had “breast conserving surgery” … a lumpectomy, as well as a sentinel node biopsy.
A couple of weeks fter surgery, I was told by the surgeon that the results were “good news” and that they think they “got it all” however, I still require radiation to make sure all of the cancer is gone, and hopefully to help prevent a reoccurrence.
Now (June 9, 2014) I’m in a medical system holding tank.
Except for wait times, which are lengthy (and a GP who made way too many mistakes, who I had to replace) … every step of the way, my medical care has been superb to date, with my surgeon, the walk-in clinic physician, and the hospital. I feel blessed to live in British Columbia and to have a medical system like we do.
The current wait is for upcoming appointments in Victoria, at the BC Cancer Agency, with a medical oncologist (chemotherapy) and radiation oncologist. I understand that I’m also down for hormonal therapy as well.
So, three possible treatments are upcoming, which for many breast cancer patients, add up to about one year out of a lifetime. (so I’ve been told),
There is a very strong possibility that I need chemotherapy and hormone therapy. I know for sure I need radiation therapy, to hopefully prevent a reoccurrence. I am told that I can choose to accept or decline these “standard of care for breast cancer patients” treatments.
There are many, many alternative treatments and possibilities out there for a full recovery and cure, if one has lots of funds, is wealthy, and/or has a super strong mindset and intention (I am told) to beat cancer forever.
Lacking any extra funds, I’m dependent on my mindset and traditional/regular care which is covered by BC Medical.
I’m doing my best to kick cancer!
What is NOT covered by BC Medical? Lots.
I live rural, and radiation is only done in a few major centres in B.C. Kelowna and Victoria are my first choices. Sooooo, I have to come up with $900-$1260 per month ($45/day) to stay at one of the BC Cancer Agency lodges during treatment, or rent a place or afford a hotel nearby, or find friends of friends to stay with.
So, what ABOUT Brenda Johima? Who is she?
I had recently closed my home based graphic design business (before I found out I had cancer) as I had done it from 2002-2013 and was eager to change careers and to have colleagues, to be part of a team, get a day job near a larger city centre (I live rural in Fanny Bay) so that I could find better (and more) employment, meet new people and friends and to begin life anew in a drier climate. I had been looking to the Okanagan.
Then cancer hit. Everything has been on hold since.
Prior to all of this? I’ve had an interesting life!
I’ve been a singer, a professional music therapist, a counsellor, family advancement worker, child care worker, program coordinator (numerous times), a flea control sales woman (yes) and pet supplies store cashier, a lifeguard and swim instructor, fitness and aerobics instructor, a public speaker and workshop facilitator, on and on, more and more. Ask me!
I value kindness and I love nature, animals, wildlife, pets, DOGS (LOVE dogs), I believe in watching out for the underdog, and in stepping in to take action to protect others from bullies (I have zero tolerance for bullies), and I have been a volunteer for conferences, festivals, and with persons with disabilities, I have volunteered my photography services for SPCA special events, donated poster designs for special causes, worked with suicide prevention and saved lives that deserved to be saved, and finally, as a lifeguard, I saved many many lives, which to this day, I am proud.
I hope this gives you a small glimpse into a piece of my life and I’m asking for your support, love and prayers, as I navigate this breast cancer journey to a full cure, so that in life, I THRIVE.
Kindness, Love and Light Make The World A Better Place. — Brenda Johima