Most of my life, I’ve suffered from depression, an eating disorder and acute anxiety, stemming from worries about my health and death. I know what you’re thinking. It’s not so uncommon. But I also suffer from iatrophobia and nosocomephobia. That means I live with the fear that there may be something wrong with me, but I’m also too afraid to seek medical help.
Each time I found the courage to discuss my health concerns with my doctor, all I ever heard was, if I just lost weight, it would all go away. It was difficult enough to deal with society’s stigma surrounding mental illness, but the fact that I was now having to face it in a doctor’s office too, was unbearable. I should have insisted that I get tests done or be referred to a specialist. I should have looked for another doctor. I should have done a lot of things, but I couldn’t because I was too afraid.
I wouldn’t wish this health-care experience on anyone.
Then in February 2021, I collapsed at home. I was rushed to my local hospital. They then referred me to St. Michael’s for what would turn out to be an unbelievable diagnosis: endometrial cancer.
They say the first time you hear the word ‘cancer,’ your world falls apart. It’s an understatement. The earth opens beneath you and swallows you whole. Deep down, I always feared that something was wrong, I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it. Now, I had no choice. It was real.
I underwent three major surgeries. I had life-threatening complications and ended up in the ICU. It was touch and go. Everyone worked to save me. They kept my family in the loop (it was the pandemic, so I couldn’t have visitors). And I did make it.
Today, I am six months cancer-free. Looking back, I know now I can face my fears with hope. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do it alone. My medical team at St. Michael’s, led by Dr. Andrea Simpson, gave me courage, love and support unlike anything I’ve ever felt before – and it made all the difference.
They gave me confidence in medical professionals. Although I was one of many patients, they always made me feel my feelings mattered, my fears were valid. They showed me daily what true patient care should look like. I will never again settle for anything less. Their care was nothing short of magical. The love, respect and appreciation I have for the gynecology, trauma and ICU teams cannot be defined by words. Because I know, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.
Donate to St. Michael's Foundation.