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Hope after breast cancer and mastectomy

Lucia Yap received care for breast cancer at the Providence Breast Centre in Mount Saint Joseph Hospital.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Canada. While remarkable progress has been made against breast cancer, it is still true that one in eight women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Here is one woman’s experience with the disease and her treatment at the Providence Breast Centre at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital. This story by Kris Wallace was originally published on the St. Paul’s Foundation’s website, here.

It all happened so fast. In only six weeks, Lucia Yap went from a healthy, active 40-something to a breast cancer diagnosis, to a double mastectomy. Thanks to the care she received at the Providence Breast Centre, just six months later, Lucia is back to her healthy, active self.

After diagnosis, everything a blur

After a biopsy confirmed she had cancer, everything was a blur – everything except Dr. Dingee’s absolute confidence in the outcome. Dr. Carol Dingee is a surgeon with the Breast Centre.

Dr. Carol Dingee of the Providence Breast Centre

Lucia recalls the surgeon said, “It’s okay if you don’t remember everything I’m telling you. All you need to know is that this is fixable!”

Lucia took Dr. Dingee’s words to heart and began a focussed exercise program to help her bounce back more quickly after the surgery. Meanwhile, Lucia’s nurse navigator, Imelda, got straight to work implementing Lucia’s comprehensive treatment plan.

Nurse navigator a breast-cancer survivor

“It was amazing how fast the Breast Centre was able to pull everything together to schedule my mastectomy and reconstruction so they could be done on the same day. It was all so reassuring.”

Lucia says that all the nurses at Mount Saint Joseph were “amazing” and she is especially grateful to Imelda. “Having someone like Imelda as your advocate really sets the Breast Centre and Mount Saint Joseph apart. She’s so helpful and compassionate. She’s also a breast cancer survivor, so I really felt she understood what I was going through. It was great to have her on my side.”

Lucia has equally high praise for Dr. Nancy Van Laeken, the Breast Centre’s plastic surgeon who did her reconstruction. “Dr. Van Laeken is extremely caring and organized. Her team booked all of my pre- and post-surgery appointments in advance. I also got the prescriptions I would need ahead of time. She’s phenomenal! And I couldn’t be happier with the results. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much, I just wanted to look okay in my clothes. But the results are incredible! Even my oncologist said, ‘They look fantastic!’”

Mount Saint Joseph – BC leader in breast-cancer surgeries

“You gave me the chance to receive life-saving care and continue living a high-quality life surrounded by those people I love,” says Lucia. “For that, I am eternally grateful. Together, we can make a big difference in women’s lives.”

The Providence Breast Centre performs 1,200 breast-cancer surgeries each year — more than any other hospital in the province.