“My head was hurting like I’d never experienced before.”
In January 2017, Rebecca Petrie’s migraine was only one of the many symptoms that marked the beginning of her cancer journey. The resident of Fergus also broke out in purple spots on her legs and the lymph nodes in her neck swelled up dramatically.
Testing at a local walk-in clinic led to a diagnosis of leukemia.
“Discovering I had cancer was the scariest thing I’d ever experienced,” she recalls.”I thought I was going to die.”
Staying ahead of the cancer
After a month of intense chemotherapy in Kitchener, Rebecca’s cancer was in remission. However, since the leukemia had a high probability of returning, she was transferred to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre for a stem cell transplant.
To prepare her body for the procedure, Rebecca underwent additional chemotherapy.
“This experience made me appreciate life more.”
“Losing my hair was one of the hardest parts of the experience,” she says. “My loved ones kept me strong during the toughest moments. I was determined to beat this cancer no matter what.”
Rebecca was lucky, as her brother was a perfect genetic match, enabling his stem cells to be used for the procedure.
After the stem cell transplant, it was a month before Rebecca was able to go home. She returned to the Cancer Centre on a regular basis for the two months following the transplant for IV infusions and monitoring.
Life like never before
Over the next several months, Rebecca slowly regained her stamina and her immune system strengthened. She was fortunate that the stem cell transplant was successful.
“Shortly after the transplant, I met the love of my life and we were married in October 2019,” she says. “This was made possible by the amazing care I received, for which I’m forever grateful.”
Although Rebecca is glad that her treatment is over, she sees her journey as a blessing in disguise.
“This experience made me appreciate life more. I feel lucky to have a place like Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre to help patients like me when we need it most.”