At only 32 years old, Haylie Lashta MacIntosh was 18 years too young to receive regular mammograms. So the discovery of the lump in her breast was completely by chance.
Haylie had been teaching a mom and baby exercise class, and was helping with a particularly fussy baby. As she was attempting to calm the child, she felt a lump on her chest. She tried to convince herself that it was just her rib, but with a family history of cancer she knew not to dismiss the lump as nothing.
She called her family doctor at the end of class and was in their office for an examination within 45 minutes. The doctor put in a requisition for an ultrasound and mammogram, followed by a biopsy, which came back as highly suspicious.
Two days before Christmas, on December 23, 2019, Haylie received her cancer diagnosis: estrogen positive breast cancer. Some may have said “Bah Humbug!” at receiving this life-altering news, but for Haylie, the diagnosis was a gift. It meant that treatment could get started.
Haylie’s children were only two and five-years old when she was diagnosed. She wanted to provide age-appropriate information for them to understand that mommy is sick, but without confusing or upsetting them. How do you make cancer fun for kids?
Books such as Nowhere Hair by Sue Glader and Cancer Party! by Sara Olsher were invaluable in helping her young children understand what mommy was going through. Haylie included the children when she shaved her head during chemotherapy, letting them help give mommy her haircut.
After receiving her initial biopsy, Haylie decided to stop nursing her son. Firstly because of the “owie” – as she described it to her son – which she received from the biopsy; secondly because of the weeks of chemotherapy scheduled; and lastly because she would be receiving a bilateral mastectomy.
As a self-employed mother of two young children, Haylie is a Super Mom who is used to doing it all. When she received her diagnosis, she thought that her cancer journey would teach her how to delegate and accept help. Then the Covid-19 pandemic swept through our community and Haylie couldn’t safely have people around to support her. So what was the lesson she was meant to learn from her journey through cancer?
Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Does every meal need to be made from scratch? Do the children need to have every moment of their day scheduled with activities? No. Haylie learned to take control of what she could, and just leave the rest.
After 16 rounds of chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy, Haylie was relieved to learn that there were clear margins and no need for radiation. Today Haylie shows no evidence of cancer!
Every dollar you give to the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan helps to provide life-saving prevention and treatments for young moms just like Haylie. She is 1 of the 740 women diagnosed with breast cancer in our province each year.
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