Ida Lee

Ida LeeI am a breast cancer survivor.  I have never been shy to speak about my breast cancer experience.   To help others, I feel you have to be open and honest about your own experiences. 

My story starts in August 1993, shortly after I celebrated my 37th birthday.  I had two very young sons, ages three and six, at home. I was first diagnosed after my doctor sent me for a biopsy but then had a modified radical mastectomy within a week.  After the surgery, I was told that eleven out of eleven lymph nodes were cancer positive and that I was a high risk patient. When you hear the word “cancer” so many negative thoughts enter your mind.  You are filled with so many emotions that can leave you unable to focus.  You can choose to be overwhelmed with negativity and despair or you can choose to fight back.  Thirteen years ago I chose to fight back, and it is the same choice I make every day of my life.
I started chemotherapy after Thanksgiving and my oncologist at the time told me that because of my age and the severity of the cancer, they wanted me to have “the most aggressive treatment available.”  I was then sent down to Toronto General Hospital where I underwent tests to see if I was eligible for a clinical trial that included high doses of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.  A decision was then made, that I was eligible for the new procedure.
Over the course of several months, I endured many procedures to prepare me for the treatment I was to undergo. By March 1994, I was finally ready for the aggressive chemo treatments and bone marrow transplant, for which I had to stay at the hospital for a month.

I cannot begin to put into words how much the support, from my family and friends helped me through the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure in my life.  I am here today because of it.  My husband was with me at the hospital every day, which meant the world to me. I will never forget it.
In March I was released from the hospital and only came back for radiation treatments and follow-up visits.  When the new Princess Margaret Hospital was built, my tests continued there for ten years.  Through support groups at The Princess Margaret, I also had the opportunity to share my story with, and inspire other women battling breast cancer. 

Something that helped me to stay focused while undergoing treatments was a goal that my husband set for me - to travel to Disney World with my family. In September 1994, we were there!
I can’t emphasize enough how the outstanding medical attention I received at TGH, and subsequently The Princess Margaret, saved my life.  A big thank you goes out to the staff at both facilities for the superior care that I received.
  Reviewed: October 2013