Adele Evans

Patient Contributed Story

My dance with cancer began in 2006. I had a small surgery to remove what was thought to be a stone in my salivary gland. It turned out to be a malignant tumor in my submandibular gland. I was immediately sent to The Princess Margaret to see Dr. Patrick Gullane. My ear, nose and throat specialist in Whitby, Ontario told me that there was no better surgeon than Dr. Gullane, and no better place for me to go for further treatment than The Princess Margaret!
 
I was very scared. I had never even heard of salivary gland cancer before and suddenly, there I was going to a cancer hospital. I never thought I would ever get cancer - I exercised, ate a healthy diet, never smoked and drank alcohol only occasionally. I was doing everything right, just like so many people who get cancer. Having someone tell you that you have cancer is a very frightening experience.
 
After MRI's and CT scans and consultations with the wonderful, kind, caring people at the Wharton Head and Neck Clinic, I had my surgery – a neck dissection to remove the tumor, the submandibular gland and eleven lymph nodes. I remember Dr. Gullane telling me I would have a "new normal" after surgery and he was right. I do, and I also have my life, which I owe to the timely care I received at The Princess Margaret and Toronto General Hospital. I was truly amazed at how efficiently the clinic was run and how quickly all scans and treatments were administered. I am very lucky indeed to have had my treatment, which was surgery, in the care of such a great team and fabulous hospital.
 
We in Ontario are truly blessed to have such a fine hospital with true medical professionals! They see it all -- the pain and the suffering, the success and the losses -- and they treat each person with dignity, treating not only the cancer but helping each individual navigate their way through the maze that is cancer and its treatment. I only wish I lived closer to Toronto so I could volunteer and give back to those who gave me everything.
 
I will never forget The Princess Margaret and all the wonderful people I met going through my journey -- the physicians, including Dr. Patrick Gullane and Dr. Bernard Cummings, who helped me make decisions about surgeries and radiation, giving me choices and always offering their expert advice, and the wonderful nurses and their support. I have never met a more dedicated group of people -- the receptionists, the volunteers -- everyone seems to work together to help make this experience just a little less frightening. This is truly health care!
 
I sing the praises of the hospital all the time and always enter The Princess Margaret lotteries to offer some support.
 
I always said, "cancer was the best worst thing that ever happened to me" and I believe the support I got and the great people I met and continue to meet on my annual appointments are, in part, the reason why I have felt that way. Happily, now I can say I am almost 6 years cancer-free with the love and support of my family, who try very hard understand my "new normal" and continue to cheer me on as I move forward and enjoy life. 
 
My prayer is that more and more people who are diagnosed with cancer can have my experience -- have their treatment and then join the list of survivors; people living and enjoying life after cancer. 
 
Adele Evans
Port Perry, Ontario
 
Revised October 2013