Tara Blake’s Story

As I got ready to stuff the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner in 2016, the heel of my hand brushed across my breast. I froze, wondering what I’d just felt.

In the bathroom mirror I could visibly see and feel a hard lump in my left breast. I called my husband who was out with our five children, they were ages three to fourteen at the time.

Fear and panic rippled through my body. Breast cancer had never been on my radar. I did everything I could to keep my family healthy. I’m a dietitian, fitness instructor, don’t smoke, breastfed my babies and only have the occasional drink socially. The rational part of me tried to temper my fears.

I was able to see my family doctor right away and within a few days was in the hospital for an urgent mammogram and ultrasound. A biopsy was ordered immediately by the radiologist to determine if the lump was cancerous- it was. Considered ‘high grade’, meaning it was growing aggressively, my care team spun into action.

I was faced with many tough decisions, including whether to have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.  I decided a mastectomy was the right choice for me.  We didn’t know what type of tumour it was until after the surgery.  At the time, what mattered most for me, was being around for my kids.

All of my diagnostic tests were done here in North Bay.  This gave my doctors important information in a timely manner.  Time has a huge impact on outcome.  Having all the information available quickly helped me to make informed decisions about the best care plan for me.

I also had my surgery right here in North Bay and the lab confirmed that the tumour was rare and fast growing.  Four short weeks later, I was scheduled to receive an aggressive regime of chemotherapy.  Due to the type of cancer and my age, my doctors wanted to attack the cancer with all they had.

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of our community that helps purchase state-of-the-art medical equipment, diagnosis, surgery and chemotherapy all happened swiftly and close to home. I was even able to attend my oncologist in Sudbury via the telemedicine service at the hospital.

Your generous donations help purchase the urgently needed medical equipment. Having all of these services and equipment at our doorstep is a gift to our medical community, patients and families. It helps ensure swift diagnoses and reduces waiting times, all of which can impact outcome.  It can make a challenging time a little easier and keeps us together, where we should be, especially in difficult times.

I am so thankful for the incredible care I received and grateful that my treatment didn’t disrupt my family life more than necessary.  Receiving all of my care in North Bay meant that I could still be present and engaged in my children’s day-to-day lives.  I was able to snuggle and read them bedtime stories and see them off to school in the morning.  I may not have been able to participate in all of their activities and adventures, but we were able to get over this hurdle together.

A cancer diagnosis impacts everyone.  As a mother, I didn’t want my children to worry, that was my job.  My children were able to see the wonderful care I received.   My older daughter was so inspired, that she and her friend hosted a lemonade stand and garage sale to raise money for the Chemotherapy Unit.  We know every donation counts!

I hope you will join me and my family in donating to our hospital. Your gift will support the Cancer Care, Close to Home campaign, helping our hospital purchase advanced medical equipment to care for patients like me. It is a gift that will be cherished by many.

The reality is that in your lifetime, a friend, family member or maybe even you will experience cancer.  It’s important to ensure our hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment to help diagnose cancer early ensuring patents receive the quickest treatment possible.

Wishing you much health and happiness,

– Tara Blake