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Deanna Ratzlaff – C95 Survivor Liaison

I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer April 30, 2015 at age 44. I will never forget that day. It is forever seared in my brain. What started out as a normal day was lifechanging. I had scheduled a mammogram for 7:30 am. I figured it would be quick and I would be at work by 8. I never expected to hear the words, “You have cancer and it looks like it has already spread.” They could see three spots that they were pretty sure was cancer. I had to undergo multiple biopsies as well as MRI testing to see exactly what we were dealing with. I was diagnosed with stage 2B, Invasive Ductal Carcimona ER+ PR+.

I chose to have a Bilateral Mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. This surgery took place June 2015. I felt great after surgery and recovery was going well. The pathology report came back and showed that I had seven areas of cancer in my left breast as well as two benign lumps in my right breast. I was thankful that I chose the surgery that I had, who knows when the lumps in the right breast would have changed and become malignant as well. Due to the number of cancerous spots and my age at diagnosis, it was recommended that I undergo chemotherapy. I underwent four rounds of Taxotere and Cytoxan. Losing my hair due to these treatments was heart-breaking and one of the hardest days of my life. I felt like so much had been taken from me and now this. I felt like my life had been hijacked; like I was on a roller coaster ride that I couldn’t get off. My life became one of doctors’ visits and appointments. The staff and physicians at the Breast Health Center were amazing and so supportive.

I’d like to say I am fully recovered from breast cancer; I’m not sure that you ever fully recover from such an experience. I am on a drug called Tamoxifen that I have to take daily for the next five to ten years. It comes with its own list of side effects that I struggle with on a daily basis. I am thankful to have a drug that I can take to help prevent my cancer from returning. I also deal with cognitive defects, some hearing loss, tinnitus and continued fatigue due to my chemotherapy treatments. I have had to learn to adjust in many aspects of my life. It is hard, when your brain remembers the old Deanna but your body doesn’t function the same as it used to.

I am thankful that we found the cancer when we did and that it had not spread into my lymph nodes. I am thankful for my friends & family who surrounded and supported me then and continue to support me now. I am especially thankful for my husband Jeff and two daughters Karlee & Darby. Cancer doesn’t effect just you, it effects the whole family.

I wanted a way that I could give back and help others as they deal with their own hijacking. I have teamed up with four other amazing survivors and in January 2017 we formed a support group. We are called Breast Cancer Support Saskatoon and we meet the second Wednesday of every month. It is so amazing to be a part of a group of ladies who “Get It”. They understand exactly how you feel, and it is nice to have a safe place to share your fears and coping strategies.

I am honoured to be part of the C95 Radio Marathon. The money raised for research is so very important. My wish is that I never have to see my daughters go through what I did. The only way this will happen is with continued research. Cancer does not discriminate. I never would have thought in a million years that it would happen to me.

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