Mary-Jean Cormier Shares Her Breast Cancer Journey

Published Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Mary-Jean Cormier Shares Her Breast Cancer Journey

Mary-Jean Cormier Shares Her Breast Cancer Journey

by Graham Strong

For Mary-Jean Cormier, playing in the 2020 Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic bonspiel was surreal. The years of raising money for and writing stories about breast cancer didn’t prepare her for the shock and fear that challenged her after her own diagnosis.

Few people besides her teammates knew that she’d had her second chemotherapy treatment the day before the bonspiel began. Luckily, she felt well enough to play, physically and emotionally.

“Initially, I didn’t tell people about my condition,” Mary-Jean said. “I didn’t want people to treat me differently.”

She learned firsthand over the course of her 10-month cancer journey how important it is to have world-class cancer services right here in Thunder Bay.

“As much as being treated for cancer isn’t fun, it was certainly a lot more bearable because I was able to get to the Hospital in five minutes. I could go for a chemotherapy treatment and then go watch my son’s hockey game.”

Of course, hockey games weren’t the only concern when it came to family. As a mother with three young sons aged 8, 11, and 13 at the time, travelling out of the region for treatment would have been much more difficult. Discussing her cancer diagnosis with her children wasn’t easy in any case. But, Mary-Jean said, they were troopers.

“I like to speak openly and frankly, so they knew about everything. They embraced my hair falling out – they all shaved their heads to match me.”

Now, almost two years since her journey began, Mary-Jean remembers back to the two curling teams she was part of at the Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic. One member of the teams wore a pink shirt to signify that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.

“It was weird that we had that as our theme that year,” Mary-Jean said. “We’d even chosen someone else on our team to wear the pink shirt before we found out that I was our 1 in 8.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Like most women who find their breast cancers early, Mary-Jean is now a breast cancer survivor. She encourages women to get tested immediately if they suspect something’s wrong. Cancer Care Ontario recommends that most women ages 50-74 should get routine screening for breast cancer every two years. Those who may have put it off during COVID should book an appointment now.

“I did a story about the drop in cancer tests, and they underlined that it was safe to come to the Hospital for screening. And I can attest to that. I always felt very safe through all my procedures.”

For more information about the Linda Buchan Centre for Breast Cancer Treatment and Assessment or to book a mammogram, please call: (807) 684-6323.

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