You know what’s truly awesome? People who face adversity and come out the other side with a positive outlook on life.
In an active community like Whistler, we’re all used to pushing our physical boundaries and burning the candle at both ends. But what happens when the unspeakable forces us to stop and listen to our body?
I recently sat down with my Whistler Blackcomb colleague, Sarah Haffey, who earlier this year received the shocking news that she had cervical cancer.
Sarah, 31, has never been the type to get sick, but after going in for a routine physical exam, her life was forever changed.
“It’s been shocking, not just for me but for friends, family and people who just meet me because to look at me you wouldn’t know that there’s anything different,” says Sarah. “And leading up to it I was healthy and active. I wouldn’t have known either.”
“You go through the feeling of ‘why did it happen to me?’ because you’re so young. You always hear about it, but until it happens to you, it’s amazing how it shifts the way you think about things.”
After being diagnosed, Sarah discovered she was unable to undergo surgery and had to instead take on “baby chemo” once per week and daily radiation treatment every day for 6 weeks.
After an epic winter season, Sarah had been looking forward to spring riding in Whistler, but she was too exhausted from the energy-draining treatments.
“Being the sort of person who’s never sick – it was really hard to all of a sudden be flat out and drained,” she explains.
But, Sarah rallied after her six weeks of intensive treatment. In July, she and 16 friends and family raised $12,000 for the Underwear Affair run, becoming the third top fundraiser for the event. She was even featured in the Vancouver Sun.
“My friends also needed something. Everyone wants to help me. At the time I was consumed by cancer. (The run) gave an outlet for people to feel like they were helping.”
Just 6 months after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, Sarah is now back at work and enjoying some normalcy, though she still visits an oncologist every 6 weeks. Sarah’s recovery time is a rarity amongst many of the cancer patients she’s met along the way – some with treatments lasting as long as a year.
With her treatment has come a new realization that it’s OK to listen to your body sometimes.
“The key piece of this is regular check ups. I know a lot of us don’t want to talk about it and some people don’t do it. But that’s what it all comes down to.”
Her advice? “Just suck it up.”
Integrated Health Centre, focuses on holistic healing to complement traditional medicine. Members can practice yoga and meditation, take cooking classes, learn about organic foods, and receive acupuncture and massage treatments.
Canadian Cancer Society accepts donations online and provides resources to patients and their friends and family.
F*ck Cancer is a Vancouver-based community that focuses on, fundraising and raising awareness and resources.