This is my 9th year in Survivorship from Bilateral Breast Cancer and discovery of a BRCA1 mutation that turned my family’s life completely around. As a Doctor, I knew what this meant. I found support for my genetic high risk through Canadian Cancer Society’s Willow where I could hear from like-minded people and live with uncertainty. Tough decisions have to be made about risk reduction in high risk BRCA carriers and my daughter, a Queen’s Medical School student, bravely got tested.
.She is organizing the QMed Run for the Cure on Strava in a running course the shape of a ribbon in Kingston.
We need more research in this field where many genes are still not found.
This year I made 330 of the Best non-medical 3 layer masks in 4 sizes and raised money one mask at a time to reach 2nd Highest Fundraiser. I believe in hard work as a doctor and believe people should be well protected which is why I tried tirelessly to make the best masks for their protection while giving to the cause. As a cancer survivor, I recognize the need to keep safe from infectious elements in COVID-19 and as a Primary Care Physician, I wanted a mask that I could comfortably wear all day while speaking to my patients.
With passion, my hard work at my sewing machine every night after work sent the money to a place I see results.
Canadian Cancer Society helps to fund Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day (BRA Day) - virtual this year, to help women understand options for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. This restores confidence and quality of life. My passion for change is my purpose. Today is a day to celebrate this hard work at successful fundraising and so proud of my daughter who is a Change-Maker too.
Have you ever got into a rhythm that is mesmerizing, mindful, calming? It is a discovery that we are all finding in a world of hobbies and nature at our feet and not thousands of miles away. Mine is sewing. I make masks. Good ones. That is not it alone however, it is about a little work of art, the pleasure of seeing a person or child delight with their favorite color, theme, customization and want to wear it.
I have even found that I prefer wearing it in my office behind my shield as it does not fog my glasses. I have spent many days with tape over my nose and ripping that at the end of each day to stop my bifocals fogging was getting sore.
It is, of course, more than that: it is a movement of positivism as we make a difference one mask at a time to change the course of women like me who went through cancer treatments by donating to the Canadian Cancer Society. We change the future of high risk women who don't follow the course of their past relatives.
So my audible books and my sewing machines are in rhythm.
Wear your mask sensibly and follow my summarized guidelines.
Imagine looking at masks that move as people talk, get handled all the time and have gaping holes at the edges. It would make you want to change... especially if you knew how to do it. Yes, I am a great sewer who has been put to the test in the recent months of COVID. First, making PPE for my community colleagues and now, designing and re-designing non-medical 3-layer masks that fit. I want them to fit, not to fog up glasses, not to move when people talk, be comfortable all day without need for readjustment. Here is the 3-part 3-layer mask with chin gusset and aluminum nose strip.
Making it fun and part of the outfit is a fundamental part of efficacy. If you like it and it is comfortable, you will wear it. Now, add embellishments, glow in the dark pirate ideas and on and on.
Since March, I have raised over $1000 for Grieving Children and now $2300 for Canadian Cancer Society. 100% of sales go to raising money for Run for the Cure. I am just beginning!
If you want details or orders email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Most of my meetings are cancelled or on-line now so I can catch up on missing pieces.
I made a resolution to spend more time in Joy this year which includes art. Art is the avenue to freedom of thought if you allow it in mixed media. Rubbing the paint on texture until some part of your mind feels it is enough.
Permission to do things of Joy is a necessary part and practice of balance in a front line job of many daily stresses.
Education is a priority. Education of students and Primary Care is exciting and challenging.
Making videos, on-line conferences, phoning patients to reduce barriers and the chance to be personally present are some ways of being innovative in this time of reducing CoVid-19 transmission to those more vulnerable.
So it is time to create: art, videos for education, my website.
Find the artist in you. Enjoy life and don't let things get in the way of your own health priorities.
I am starting a blog with Look Good Feel Better to open a conversation that often goes unnoticed. We want to talk about the uncomfortable questions as cancer takes away womanhood. We want to take this directly to the cancer patients. Many cultural and gender barriers result in an average of 2% of doctors talking about the second highest patient concern. I am starting the uncomfortable conversation by connecting Q & A's with specialists.
We need women to feel less isolated and depressed and more familiar with these normal feelings in cancer treatment and life afterwards.
Check out the intro.
Did you ever think you would manage? What about thrive in the face of learned resilience? What about take your strengths to the next level? Yet the fallout of cancer is haunting. This is the next chapter.
It is not a "new you" and you don't "get over it". You manage and every day is an attitude that radiates through broken bones and arthritis, fatigue and pain that are just some of these symptoms after cancer treatment.
Imagine being an advocate for all that? To tell the world that it is not all pink heroics; that there is an unspoken side to cancer survivorship - a fallout that many don't speak about limited by cultural and professional health care barriers. Astounding stats started my presentations to address areas of sexuality, breast reconstruction and long term side effects but realized we must go straight to the people.
Who better to do this than Look Good Feel Better who are bringing back the womanhood to women in cancer.
Both Sides Connects will ask specialists these questions, direct to the patient to bridge the gap on-line. Stay tuned.
Either I had to learn to keep up or be left behind. In my busy job, it is hard to keep work under control so it is not high priority to advertise or increase public access to your strained and exhausting life. Keeping spare time private and quiet is a more common approach.
During my cancer journey however, I experienced the hardest time of my life as I lost control and uncertainty was a daily companion. The fragility of character took a lot of hard work to put back together with trust and support as my glue. My positive thinking cards kept me moving forwards and still echo in my head daily in a positive, forgiving and yet balancing way.
Well, it was fortunate that I came across some remarkably lucky opportunities as stars aligned. As my cards said, I had to step up to the plate if I wanted to change the emotional fallout of cancer treatment and how it could look different if I wanted it to. Passion + opportunity and here I am. I still have to push the comfort zone and push the barriers of media saviness or get left behind.
Stepping up to the plate of change as a Regional Primary Care Lead, at our regional cancer centre and across the province ,on expert panels and cancer pathway committees, my energy for awareness and change push me on.
I will link you to my media beginning on FacingCancer.ca where I still continue to call it my home of support.
I have many more ideas and things to do so on with my work and signing off for now.
Dr Alexandra Ginty
Cancer hits you blindside when all the balls are in the air - delete all. Bilateral breast cancers, double mastectomy, reconstruction, BRCA 1 mutation, hysterectomy and family risk. The fallout is exhausting. Through these scars we somehow find strength and an appreciation of life. Now, leading change in Cancer Care I can make a difference everyday from Both Sides.