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Annabelle: Cancer won’t win

By October 9, 2012June 30th, 2016Moments

Annabelle comes from a family of 9 children.  Born and raised in the Philippines, she has her BA in Education and wanted to be an elementary school teacher but had to put her dreams on hold to help support her family.

She was a live-in caregiver for 16 years in Hong Kong before immigrating to Canada.

Annabelle has worked very hard to be successful in her new country.  She worked for a family through the live-in caregiver program for the first 10 years after her arrival.  During this time she discovered her inner caregiver and decided that it was her calling.  She began with Classic LifeCare in 2009. Annabelle loves bringing comfort and support to those in need of reassurance and a gentle presence to help reveal the moments that matter.

Then, in May of 2011, a different kind of moment. During a regular breast self-examination Annabelle found a lump in her upper right breast.  The kind that’s hard and painful to the touch.  Deep down, she knew this was not good news.

Many exams and painful biopsies later, she received the devastating news that her breast cancer would require surgery. Meaning her right breast needed to be removed.  This was hard news for a single woman with dreams of marriage and children. She worried those dreams might be dashed if she was disfigured.  After counseling from the Cancer Clinic she quickly came to realize that for any dream to come true at all, she needed to survive first.

Annabelle says she’s still the same person – minus a breast. And cancer.

She agreed to the surgery and had her mastectomy on September 30th of last year. It was discovered that the cancer had metastasized from her breast into one of her lymph nodes so this meant radiation and chemotherapy.  As was to be expected, she lost her hair and finger nails.  She developed sores in her mouth and throat causing her to lose her appetite and feel weak.

Despite feeling awful, she forced herself to eat and get up every morning to walk around the block because she was determined to get well and live a full life. She bought a wig and had artificial nails applied to her fingers because she believed if she looked healthy she would feel healthy. This approach worked wonders on her confidence.

This past June, Annabelle had a three-month check up and we’re all thrilled to report that she’s clear of cancer. She will continue to have check ups over the next five years before the all-clear. But she is full of hope. Annabelle understands how precious her life is won’t let breast cancer define it.

Annabelle returned to work in June this year.  She plans to continue bringing comfort to clients and, thanks to this experience, an even greater empathy for what they are going through.