Sudbury

Sault-area woman uses humour to cope through cancer diagnosis and treatment

A Sault Ste. Marie woman is sharing her story in hopes of encouraging others to get routine medical tests.

Linda Janzen was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 55 after never being screened

Linda Janzen of Sault Ste. Marie was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer at the age of 55. (Submitted by Linda Janzen)

A Sault Ste. Marie woman is sharing her story in hopes of encouraging others to get routine medical tests.

Linda Janzen, 55, says she wasn't keen on getting a mammogram because she had heard it was an uncomfortable procedure.

But earlier this year, she came across a pop-up screening clinic and decided to finally get the test done. She wasn't that worried because no one in her family had ever been diagnosed with breast cancer.

She says she was shocked when she got the news that her mammogram tests showed she not only had one type, but two types of breast cancer.

"It was a very small bit of cancer," she said. "But nonetheless, breast cancer is breast cancer no matter how big or small it is."

Janzen says eventually the decision was made that she would have a double mastectomy. 

"For me, it was just my personal choice," she said. "So I walked in with the old then walked out with the new ones."

Janzen says although it's been a difficult experience, her sense of humour has been a benefit. Before her double mastectomy, she asked one of her friends who is a comedian to write a eulogy for her breasts that were going to be removed.

"When I was at the day of my operation, I read that in the pre-op room with my family," she said.

"If you don't have a sense of humour through it all, it makes it very difficult." 

Now, she's working to help others go through the same thing, and also encourage a message of regular screening.

"So it's really important that I get that word out there that people have to do these mammograms," she said. "Early detection saves lives."

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, women between the ages of 50 to 74 should have a mammogram every two years. 

Imagine the shock of learning you have two different kinds of breast cancer -- even though no one else in your family has ever been affected by the disease. We talk with a Sault Ste. Marie breast cancer survivor who says early detection was key to helping overcome this unexpected diagnosis. 7:17

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