Isa Cariati: Finding Strength and Support

April 30, 2024
Isa sitting

I remember thinking on January 1st, 2023 ~ this is going to be my year!!

I was turning 50 in October, and after having experienced a few too many deaths over the last few years (including my dad’s), I thought this would finally be the year for me!!  I would take care of myself, physically and mentally, and then for my 50th birthday, I would hold a huge bash to celebrate the milestone.  I envisioned myself making a speech to thank all those people who meant so much to me and who supported me through those difficult last few years.

Fast forward to the beginning of August 2023, where I am in fact, making a speech, but instead, I’m making it a few weeks before undergoing a double mastectomy, thanking those same special people who were helping me and supporting me get through my breast cancer diagnosis and journey.

The shocking diagnosis of Invasive Mammary Carcinoma came on June 27th, 2023.

About 3 weeks prior, I woke up one morning with pain and a lump on my right breast. It was my husband who encouraged me to get it checked out immediately. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and forced to process this dreadful news, I reached out to family and friends for support.  Almost immediately, one person after another recommended Wellspring to me.  I did some research online and saw all the wonderful programs and support they offer, so I decided to take full advantage.  I figured I needed all the help I could get at that point.  I drove down to the Chinguacousy office one day, in shock from everything that I was about to face.  I registered and met Alex.  I broke down in his office, telling him everything.  He was so comforting and understanding, reassuring me this was the place to get the support I needed.

I was originally told I would need a lumpectomy because the biopsy showed a fairly large tumour on my right breast, but after having an MRI, they discovered 2 tumours and a concerning cyst all within the same “quadrant” of my breast. So instead, I would need a mastectomy.  They called it “multi-focal” or “multi-centric” disease.  DCIS and IDC in my right breast.

If that wasn’t shocking enough, the MRI detected a “concerning mass” in my left breast that would need to be monitored for the rest of my life!  “What???  Seriously???”

After riding a rickety roller coaster of emotions for a few weeks, I decided on a bilateral mastectomy. Surgery day was August 23. I would be released the next day on August 24th – my dad’s birthday. 🪽

It has probably been said a thousand times, but I honestly do not think I could’ve survived the summer of 2023 without Wellspring and their absolutely amazing support groups and counselling services.

Before and after my bilateral mastectomy, I took advantage of Wellsprings’ online classes including support groups, Nutrition and Wellness Classes, and Meditation classes, just to name a few.  I still keep in touch with some of the wonderful women I met in the support groups.

However, one thing that I cannot emphasize enough is for people to take advantage of the 3 complimentary therapy sessions Wellspring offered to me with a professional counsellor.  If it had not been for this service and the amazing, compassionate counsellor that I spoke to, I honestly don’t think I could’ve gotten through those terrible weeks, let alone the double mastectomy.

The therapist helped me navigate and digest all that I was about to face, explaining medical terms I had never heard of before, breaking down what to expect at doctors’ appointments and upcoming tests.  But most importantly, the therapist calmed my anxiety and fears that naturally occur after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Her perspective and experience on cancer treatments and procedures in Ontario, reassured me that everything happening, was on the right track. She was there for me as I prepared both physically and mentally, for my double mastectomy. Realizing that what I was about to face was in fact an “amputation,” she gave me the opportunity to mourn and grieve what I was about to lose.

I’m tearing up just writing about this because she was such a calming and comforting voice in all the chaos that had become my life.

And, this was all free of charge!   A service that is available only because Wellspring exists.

Fortunately, I didn’t need to have chemo or radiation, but went straight to hormone blockers.  I have been recovering well since then and have made significant lifestyle changes.

I will forever be grateful that Wellspring exists, and that this organization was there for me during the most difficult time of my life.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

Isa 50th birthday Isa and Husband


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