My mom is a breast cancer survivor, so I had been under surveillance since I was 32. The doctor who I had been seeing had a gut feeling that it would be a good idea for me to have a baseline MRI just before my 40th birthday. They found a 3.5 cm tumour and I learned that if I had waited for it to show up on my annual mammogram it's likely that it would have been much more difficult to treat.
I had a mastectomy in July of 2010 and I started chemotherapy at the end of October.My daughter was about to turn five years old. I was a business owner and had to walk away from it while I was in treatment and trying to stay healthy. Two weeks after surgery, my marriage took a turn for the worse, and my husband asked for a divorce.
"It’s hard for me to imagine what my life would look like now if I had not found Wellspring because it was such a big part of my cancer experience. It was a true anchor for me and helped me believe everything was going to be okay."
- J'Val Shuster
I turned to Wellspring Calgary. I knew I needed support. That was pretty clear. I was in desperate need of help—not on the physical or medical side. That part was being well taken care of at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. But my oncologist was concerned that I was dealing with all of these things at once and no matter how good the medicine, if I didn’t care of my mental wellbeing, it could hamper my treatment success.
I was able to take several levels of the Healing Journey program, I also took restorative yoga and learned how to meditate. At Wellspring, I felt the true power of unconditional support and care. To be cared for in this way is deeply healing. I was not well during that time, but Wellspring helped me feel good. The calming space sets you at ease and the approach doesn’t feel institutional, which is a nice break in the middle of all your treatment. We don’t sit around and talk about our drugs, our treatment — it’s not about the cancer. That’s the amazing part. You can focus on how to live your life.
The skills I learned at Wellspring have provided me with a new foundation from which I can nurture my physical, emotional and spiritual health. It’s hard for me to imagine what my life would look like now if I had not found Wellspring because it was such a big part of my cancer experience. It was a true anchor for me and helped me believe everything was going to be okay.
Today, I’m more than three years cancer-free. Thanks to the amazing team at my business, it escaped bankruptcy and is thriving again. I still struggle with brain fog and it seems to be a lasting side effect but I meditate and do yoga every day. I am enjoying my time with my lovely daughter. Life is good. I’m deeply, deeply grateful.