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“In December 2017, I was walking through the Cape Breton Cancer Centre doors at only 34 years old to find out my diagnosis. My name is Dinah McNeil, and I am a cancer survivor. When I found a lump, initially I wasn’t really worried – I felt as though I was much too young to be going through cancer.
The diagnosis was triple-negative breast cancer. Most frequently found in younger women.
Aggressive. Rare. An active and healthy 34 year old shouldn’t have cancer – but my body was telling me something different. Shock clouded my mind. I didn’t want to believe what the test results were telling me, but I had to come to terms with it. I needed to start treatment. Fortunately, my oncology treatment and the new and always-changing treatment plan was all here - at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre.
When I did go to the Cape Breton Cancer Centre, I realized that no matter what people say about the state of healthcare, that facility is incredible. The Cancer Centre is filled with medical professionals – some who are neighbors, family and friends; people who genuinely want to see you heal. I was amazed when my oncology nurse, who was younger than myself, told me that she too went through a cancer diagnosis and a very similar treatment plan. It was so comforting knowing I wasn’t alone.
Because of the Cancer Centre, I never had to leave my husband Kris, nor did I ever have to leave my two best friends, my fur babies Marley and Lily. I never had to leave them when my radiation was taking place, when my chemo didn’t work or when my radical mastectomy surgery removed a part of me forever in April of 2018.
I stayed home in Cape Breton for every bit of that. I’m eternally grateful. From holding my husband’s hand, to visits with friends and cuddles and licks from Marley and Lily, being home was what enabled me to fight, grow and heal.
Today, I’m proud to say that I’m in remission. There’s no sign of cancer, other than scars that I bear and a new outlook on life. Cancer did not beat me, cancer made me stronger – and the support from my community gave me the tools to do that.”