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Aileen Williamson : She's a 1der

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Did I think at 35 I would be diagnosed with cancer? Yes and no! Let’s go back to February 2020 when I caught covid, I had issues breathing after every time I had a complaint my doctor put it down to covid and it’s lasting effects. Jumping to June 2021 a trip to the ER a doctor finally sent me to get my lungs checked out. I had all the testing done on my lungs both my own doctor and the lung doctor said it was long covid and the scaring on my lung was from a previous infection.

Something didn’t sit right with me all of 2021 I just knew that there was something more!! I never told anyone because I thought it would be weird if I said “oh yeah I think I may have cancer”


I requested that my family doctor refer me to a pulmonologist that I knew, I had met him through work. July 2021 I met with him, told him I had previously had all the lung function tests done with another specialist and I wasn’t at all happy. Explained that I might sound crazy but I felt like there was something more going on, he needed to find it!

I never really had bad symptoms, the biggest things for me was I never felt like I could fully get a breath or fill my lungs fully, I had pain when I sneezed and coughed on my right lung, I was constantly exhausted and that was all!

We did lung function tests, which my results were low I only had 44% of my lungs working so yes this made sense as to why I felt exhausted and deflated so to speak, we did that test in July and repeated in October which I had pushed all those months and was running to increase my lung capacity and by October

I was at 80% yay but I still wasn’t happy. I had X-rays and ct scans, again was told my cloudy ground glass and mark on my right lung were from previous infections and we would repeat. We did repeat them and my scans had changed so I asked for the next step which was a pet scan. My specialist was happy to wait a few more months to redo the scans but I didn’t feel like that was a good idea, so I had my pet scan in November and low and behold my lungs lit up like a Christmas tree (FYI I have watched enough greys anatomy to know that wasn’t a good sign ) so the next step was a biopsy. I went into hospital two days before Christmas to have my biopsy, and a long story short the doctor who did it came out wished me a merry Christmas and said everything looked ok and if it didn’t he would have told me, even in my anaesthesia state I looked at my friend and said he is lying I know it’s bad news!

December 28th 2021 the day my entire life as I knew it changed, my doctor called me and said Aileen you were right, I am so sorry. The next few days were a blur, telling family and close friends. First things were first to tell my two wonderful kids! It broke my heart to tell them that “mommy has the yucky word”

That is what I told people, because when you say cancer people give you that look! It’s horrible, people don’t know how it feels unless they’ve been there, you get this sad look, the feeling sorry for you look.

Well I wasn’t having any of it. I only told people I am close to and that I wanted them to know, I decided that I have two choices here I either leave cancer control my life or I control my life and cancer takes a back seat!! That is exactly what i have done, I have not let cancer define me or my life or anything I can do, like I told my oncologist without sounded ignorant “I don’t have time for this, I don’t have time for cancer, I am too busy, I have way too much to do and my life to live, so let’s get rid of it now”

You see I am a single mom of two amazing young children so I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself because I didn’t want them to see me like that, I had to work because the bills didn’t stop coming because I have cancer now. It is a blessing in a way because I had to keep things as normal as possible if not even better for them, don’t get me wrong I had two days that were horrible, I literally cried on my basement floor in my best friends arms,she was the only person that saw me at my low of begging and pleading that I don’t want to die and I can’t I just can’t I have to be here for my babies. I gave myself those two different days where we both cried. That one day after finding out and then again the day of my meeting with my team when they said the words “we can’t cure you” hearing those words is like a kick in the stomach but I said ok that’s what you think, I said “you just watch, you will scan me in a few months and you won’t be able to see any cancer”

For someone who is very private about this and doesn’t talk about it, when I do I could go on forever!

I am eternally grateful for my oncologist and his team and science and medicine for TKI’s to keep me alive. I truly believe the key to beating cancer is being positive and having a good mindset, being as fit and healthy as possible. I am an all round positive person anyways but this two bad days I did feel me slipping under a dark cloud which would be easy to stay there but I can’t. We get one go at this life, it’s not a long trip so we do need to make the best of it, I deleted my social media for a break from the world and am enjoying the little things like listening to the birds chirping and the leaves blowing in the wind, watching the glistens in the snow. I don’t know are these things that I am now more aware of but nonetheless I love it. The mind is a powerful thing, you can truly help in your healing by keeping your mind happy and positive. Life is short buy the shoes, eat the cake, tell your loved ones you love them and the not so loved ones to eff off haha

On the plus side of this diagnosis my sister finally came to visit me after I moved to Canada in 2013, my mom came to stay for 3months, I live and am being treated in the amazing Cross Cancer Institute and I am surrounded by amazing people who have become my family here and are behind me 100% of the way and cheering me on in this new fight I have to win!!

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Thanks for sharing. Congratulations on telling them " just watch...". Doctors are great; they order the lifesaving pills, scans, etc.--but I agree that we can't leave it to them. I used to be in medical school (before they thought I couldn't continue-over 1 year ago now--let them watch :) so I came into it with a different perspective: I felt the doctors were overworked (what is to be expected when the clinics work them to the bone for profits)--and knowing it saved my life.

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