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Carole Beaudoin's Journey Through Breast Cancer

It’s a story that’s all too common in the 21st century: a woman who is enjoying life to the fullest suddenly finds out she has breast cancer.

It’s what happened last year to Carole Beaudoin, an athletic mother and grandmother from the Quebec City region. The civil servant found out that she had breast cancer at the end of July 2017, not long after her 52nd birthday.

After a progressive return to work following two operations and countless chemo- and radiotherapy sessions, Mrs. Beaudoin looks back on the past year, which has deeply impacted her life. She also recalls her first experiences with the My Active Health program and shares the benefits it continues to bring her today.

Shock waves

A cancer diagnosis is never easy to accept, and each woman has her own way of reacting. For Carole Beaudoin, finding out about her illness was like a concussion. “It was obviously a huge, huge shock,” she confirms.

Luckily, the energetic fiftysomething had a good support system and already knew a few women who had fought the disease or were still battling it. “I realized that I was far from alone in dealing with this,” she says.

The mother of four explains that her neighbour is the one who first mentioned the My Active Health program. After having a look at the initiative’s Facebook page, she started using it to share her experience with the disease. “In the beginning, I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of interaction on the Facebook page, so I started posting photos,” admits Carole.

As the side effects from her treatments weren’t too bad, she started getting more involved with the program at the beginning of 2018. A fan of cross-country skiing, Mrs. Beaudoin decided she would continue to enjoy her favourite sport as long as she could, at her own pace.

At one point, Carole Beaudoin even wondered whether her treatments were actually working. “Time passed, and things were going well, so I continued being active. Having few side effects and a lot of energy, I developed anxiety because I thought the chemotherapy wasn’t working,” she explains.

“My doctor told me that staying physically active was helping ease the side effects, but that the chemotherapy and radiotherapy were doing their job. I stayed active, and my radiation oncologist confirmed that it was helping me manage my fatigue, which is the main side effect of radiotherapy,” she remembers.

“On the My Active Health Facebook page, I shared how staying active during my treatments had created a virtuous circle.” Carole is now in remission. “It all ended in May 2018, and my recovery started over the summer.”

Exploring new horizons

As kinesiologist specialized in oncology Myriam Filion, who leads the My Active Health program, explained, women often develop friendships when they partake in the program. Carole Beaudoin is no exception, and continues to maintain relationships with people she met through the initiative. “We often don’t dare to go out much and meet new people; we tend to stick to our family almost exclusively. That is when social networks take on so much more importance. It really motivated me to see what other women were doing, exchange tips with them, and talk about other things with them, too. But we all had one common goal: being and staying active.”

Getting to know people going through a similar situation via social networks and taking the time to get out and do some exercise was highly beneficial to Carole Beaudoin.

Although she was able to carry on doing her favourite sport, Mrs. Beaudoin also ended up trying other activities she had never tried before—let alone heard of! She says she fell in love with Qi Gong, an Asian exercise which focuses on breathing. “A tiny group met on Thursday mornings. There were always four or five of us, and the teacher was sensational. I discovered so many ways to help prevent and manage my side effects,” recounts the soon-to-be grandmother of four. She also started practicing Afghan walking.

Surfing the wave

After a year filled with twists and turns, Carole is back on her feet, and more confident than ever. She is grateful to the My Active Health program and would like to see it grow, so that more women could benefit from it. “I want to continue being part of My Active Health; now that my operations and treatments are behind me, all that is left is hormonal therapy, which has its own set of long-term side effects. Physical activity and my spiritual journey really help alleviate them. My doctor also insists that physical activity is a determining factor in the risk of recurrence. In that sense, the program plays an important role in helping keep women dealing with breast cancer motivated to stay active.”

Through the physical and spiritual activities she has undertaken and continues to practice daily, Carole Beaudoin would like for people to wish her one thing: for her current situation to continue. “I often tell people I wouldn’t want to go back to being the woman I was before I got sick. What people can wish for me is not to be able to go back in time, but rather to continue as the new person I’ve become.”

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