Cancer Care: Anna’s Story

June 8, 2021

Since this interview was published, Anna sadly passed away in April 2022. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Anna and her family. 

In September 2016, Anna noticed that one of her breasts had started to feel different.

Cancer Care Patient Anna

“I needed to know everything that was going to happen to me, and my oncologist Dr. Sabrina Allegro would tell me,” says Anna. “She’s been by my side through this whole journey.”

“There was no change to the naked eye,” remembers Anna. “I just knew something wasn’t right.”

An ultrasound revealed small nodules in her breast, so Anna requested a referral to Humber River Hospital’s Breast Health Clinic, where she underwent a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy.

“From September to December those nodules had grown to the size of an orange,” says Anna.   They confirmed that I had cancer. It was awful news but one of the first things I remember happening was that a fantastic nurse told me everything I could expect next.”

The first time Anna walked into the Chemotherapy Clinic in December 2016 she walked right back out.

“I was terrified. But I came back the following weeks and started my six rounds of chemo,” says Anna. “I needed to know everything that was going to happen to me, and my oncologist Dr. Sabrina Allegro would tell me. She’s been by my side through this whole journey, and has always made me feel like she has all the time in the world for me.”

Anna underwent a full mastectomy, had 21 lymph nodes removed and radiation at another Toronto hospital, and began the process of breast reconstruction through Humber’s Plastic Surgery Clinic with Dr. Thomas Constantine.

“Then I developed an infection and was admitted to Humber River Hospital for 27 days,” says Anna. “That was hard, but my physician, Dr. Clarwyn Yip really knew her stuff, and my nurses on the eleventh floor were amazing. Marina would not walk by my room without popping her head in to check on me. Maria was so good at drawing my blood, even though I have difficult veins and had a pike line inserted. There were days that they could not draw blood. Maria wrote out the instructions for her technique in my phone on how to draw blood if the next nurse had difficulty!”

Unfortunately, Anna’s cancer continued to progress. In December 2020, doctors discovered a tumour behind Anna’s eye. And in April 2021 after a preventative robotic hysterectomy with Dr. Andre LaRoche, she learned that she had had cancer in her ovaries.

“On my journey, I have had good days and bad days,” she says. “Dr. Allegro has said to me since the beginning ‘giving up is not an option’ and I agree. So I choose to be grateful.”

Anna recently made a Gift of Gratitude donation in recognition of three nurses, Marina, Maria, and Joanie, who have gone above and beyond throughout the years.

“But I could have made a Gift of Gratitude for the whole Hospital!” she says. “Dr. Allegro has been by my side through it all, and I’ve become close with my Cancer Care nurses Joan, Caroline, Lynn, and Mark. Joanie in Plastics has been really good to me and has held my hand many times. I adore Dr. Constantine, and every time I talk to Dr. LaRoche I feel like we have known each other for years.”

“Everyone is so wonderful and I am thankful,” says Anna. “We have become like family.”