Janel Clark was nursing her two-month-old baby girl Luella, when her breast became swollen, hard and painful. Initially her family doctor thought it was mastitis, but even after treatment the hardness didn’t go away. Janel was referred to Dr. Scarth, a breast surgeon at the Saint John Regional Hospital, who found that Janel had breast cancer. “I remember being terrified. All I could think about was our kids and what if something happens to me and I’m not here for them,” recalls Janel.
One week later, Janel underwent a partial mastectomy, and then anxiously awaited the pathology results. “Waiting for the test results was nerve-wracking,” says Janel. But thankfully the news was good – Janel was cancer free! However, beating cancer was just the beginning of Janel’s story.
“After surgery my breast was unrecognizable, like an empty balloon,” explains Janel. “I had heard about the Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) day event at the Saint John Regional Hospital and I went to find out more.”
“After meeting with Dr. Wheelock, I knew that she really understood what I was going through,” says Janel. “She told me to ‘Go home and take some time to heal and be healthy. Enjoy your baby and come back when you’re ready’. And when I was ready, I did.” Janel underwent two reconstructive surgeries over the next year.
“Having four surgeries in two-and-a-half years takes a lot out of you physically and emotionally,” says Janel, who wanted to share her story to help others. “But the care was absolutely excellent and I’m so grateful that some good can come out of this.”
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