Thus began my journey

Robert Santos

A second surgery removed the rest of the tumour, more breast tissue and all 13 of my lymph nodes on that side of my body. The row of stitches on the left side of my body was so tight that I couldn’t lift my arm. The procedure was considered successful, but it left me feeling like I’d been scraped clean.

My oncology team formulated a recovery plan comprising chemotherapy, radiation and a pipeline of drugs. I was concerned about the one-size-fits-all approach, especially since there was no metastasis to the armpit nodes.

Thus began my research.

I contacted the Canadian Cancer Society, and I was connected with survivors who were more than willing to talk about their experiences. The more I learned about the treatments and their side effects, the more insistent my inner voice became: chemotherapy wasn’t the way to go for me (based on my own situation).

Despite declining chemotherapy, I decided to accept the recommended 25 rounds of radiation. My decision was predicated upon the fact that I didn’t want to risk my general and reproductive health with chemo. I was unmarried at the time, but I knew I wanted to have children someday. And so my decision was predicated upon the fact that I really didn’t want to risk my general and reproductive health with chemotherapy treatments.

Radiation was brutal and I felt the effects for a full year afterward, but I was grateful for every hour of life. Five years passed. I was considered cured.