When it comes to breast cancer, there’s one thing both Ashley Moore and Cheryl Dumont don’t recommend: not doing anything about it.
"I had it and ignored it for a couple months before. It's definitely something that I don't recommend,” Moore offered. “It can be a matter of going from an early stage to very progressive in a matter of a couple months.”
Moore was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in September 2019, though there was something bothering her starting in May of that year.
That’s the same experience of St. Albert community leader Cheryl Dumont, who recently became a six-year survivor of breast cancer.
“I knew that something wasn't right, but I didn't know what it was. For me, I was feeling a very different sensation in this one breast. Immediately, I knew it wasn't right, but I kept putting it off because I had a trip coming up and I honestly wasn't thinking breast cancer. I was just thinking, ‘Well that's strange. That's weird.’ You know how busy I get, so I was just carrying on with life,” she began, remembering the events of the fall of 2015.
“Maybe if I'd had a doctor's appointment, I might have said something about it. I'm sure I would have, but I didn't.”
After a few more months and the symptoms were recurring, along with an unusual prolonged lapse in energy level, she couldn’t simply ignore the nagging feeling that something was amiss. She suddenly realized she needed to see a doctor as soon as she could. She was on a trip away at the time, so it still had to wait until she returned — another unfortunate delay.
There was some luck, though.
“Luckily, I had a great doctor who immediately found the lump because I did not. I had no idea that there was a lump and couldn't have felt it, but she felt it.”
This was now mid-December, and the biopsy was scheduled for the very next day. A week later, the results were in to say that it was cancer, still stage one but with some stage two markers. Surgery was scheduled for January.
“Do I wish that I had done something in September as soon as I noticed a strange pulling sensation? Yes. But am I glad that, two months later in November, thinking, ‘OK, Cheryl you can't put this off any longer, no matter how busy you are.’” she said.
She made an appointment. Her cancer was still detected relatively early, and it made a world of difference.
Today, Dumont is still doing incredible and important work for the community of St. Albert through St. Albert Further Education and the St. Albert Housing Society. Moore continues to be a busy real estate agent through Century 21. Both consider themselves personal health advocates as their new side vocations.
“I have a lot of friends, even now. It's funny whenever somebody finds something, they call me right away saying, ‘Well, what would you do?’ Well immediately, I'm not the advocate to tell you to not worry about it. I tell you to go get checked. The faster, the better,” Moore confirmed.
Dumont reiterated that sentiment.
“The importance of early detection is really important. The earlier the stage, the better they're able to ensure that you're cancer-free, like they've cut the cancer out: a lumpectomy versus having to have a mastectomy.”
Dumont added that her doctor at the Cross Cancer Institute was amazing, and apart from treating her successfully, he did two other things.
“He made me aware of the importance of exercise and making sure that I follow the dietary restrictions,” she began, continuing, “The other thing is that he encouraged me to work. He said, ‘If you can work, I think that this is the best therapy for you.’ He really got to know me, and that works for me.”