Deanna Behnke-Cook

As I guess it would be true to say for anyone, having a cancer diagnosis changes everything. Absolutely everything. The way you see yourself, your life, the things that you think about, how you see the world, the way that people around you see you, and sometimes how they treat you, changes. And having had the experience I have
had, I wouldn’t change any of it.

My diagnosis came in March 2012, where a mammogram and ultrasound suddenly rolled into “Yup, you need a biopsy”. I knew what the diagnosis would be..I think I’ve known for years that this would be a part of my life and that I would experience breast when the call finally came on a Friday afternoon from my family doc, who started the conversation by saying..”So, do you want me to tell you over the phone?”, and to which I replied “You already did”, I wasn’t the least surprised.

As those of you know who have experienced such a diagnosis, the world takes on an unfamiliar blurry spin, where one appointment leads to several more, which lead to a whole host of tests, to which one wanders in a virtually semiconscious state.

Those tests revealed what the “plan” was going to be, compliments of our fearless leader Dr. Mark Levine (whom I love with all of my heart and will be forever grateful).. Yep, 3 rounds of chemo (Oh, did I say 3, I meant,.A double mastectomy followed (thanks to the amazing Dr. Barbara Heller, who agreed to do the double because I asked her to, and who thought my 3 reasons for having the double were “very good ones”. I told her, “no offence, but I never wanna see you
again unless it’s in the Walmart parking lot”. Actually, I lied. I did see her again on my 1 year post op anniversary to hug her and say Thank you… (how does one really say an adequate Thank You to someone who is so skilled and cares for her patients so much that she made sure nothing sinister was left behind…???).

In any event, she was cheerful and bubbly the morning of my surgery (August 13th, 2012) when she asked me, “So, how are you doing this morning?”, and to which I replied, “As well as can be expected for someone having a double mastectomy”. Her happy answer was, “Well, you gotta do what you gotta do”. I looked at her for a
second and said, “yep, you are so right..let’s get going!”. She then took the time to introduce me to everyone in the OR (man, its cold in there) and said..”Let’s get started!”

That adventure was followed by 25 blasts (not the medical term I’m thinking) of radiation, plan compliments of none other than the awesome, sweet Dr. Jonathan Sussman, who up until that point was only known to me as my son’s hockey coach. “If I know you”, he said, “You’ll either run or ride your bike up here” (to the “J”, as I lovingly refer to the Juravinski Cancer Centre). And he was right…ride my bike I did, up the Jolley cut 25 times for each and every one of my radiation treatments. The awesome crew on 10A …Arlene et al (also known as my posse) waited with beaming (no pun intended) smiles every day..helped me park my bike right outside the unit wall and spoke sweet words of encouragement through that lovely microphone on the other side of the wall. Last radiation treatment date (and I have the photo of me and Arlene to prove it)..October 22nd, 2012.

No one wants to go to the “J”. But thank God we “get” to go to the “J”. Each and every moment spent there and kindness shown by the docs, nurses, tech support folks, blood lab people, admin staff, and everyone one else who works and or volunteers their time, was so very, very much appreciated. As a result, I “get” to be here to
love my family, to live in this world, and to shamelessly ask people for their money to support the BRIGHT Run, so that others “get” to do the same.

When I spoke recently at the BRIGHT rounds, I said that although it is “work” for all of the staff at the J, it is also true that it is our lives that they are there to care for.. The research conducted through funds raised by the BRIGHT Run saves lives. Just sayin’. Donate generously please….