A letter from Michelle Weiss

My name is Michelle Weiss and I am a breast cancer survivor of six years. This is my journey from diagnosis in 2012 to present and the positive events that happened along the way.

In November 2012, I went for a routine mammogram and before I knew it, was faced with going home to tell my daughter, Sidney, and husband, Al, that I had been diagnosed with aggressive stage II breast cancer. We were in shock. After crying some tears, we discussed whether we should go to Sidney’s hockey tournament in Pittsburgh that weekend. I said, “There is nothing wrong with me, I don’t feel sick, and I am going to the hockey tourney with or without you two!” As a side note, they won the tournament and Sidney was named MVP.

Me with my dad, Harvey. This was taken only a
week after my mom passed away. My husband Al
says that we had on some pretty brave smiles in this
picture (and that we were comparing haircuts!)

You’d think that after receiving this news I’d be scared, but honestly, I wasn’t. I’d do whatever I needed to in order to beat cancer. I could have had a lumpectomy, but I decided to take no chances and opted to have a full mastectomy. My mastectomy was performed at Bluewater Health and went extremely well. The staff were all very gentle, caring and thorough, and explained the procedures to me as they happened.

A month after my mastectomy, I began eight treatments of chemotherapy which lasted 16 weeks. Unfortunately, after only my first treatment, I had to deal with the loss of my mother unexpectedly. During this difficult time, the staff at Bluewater Health did all they could to make my treatment routine as easy and accommodating as possible. They allowed me to go for my second treatment early to accommodate my mom’s funeral. All of my remaining strength was reserved to help my father get through this traumatic time. Following chemo, I began radiation therapy.

As I progressed through treatment, I continued to bike and go on walks and tried to live my life as full and normal as possible. I finally ‘rang the bell’ at my last treatment and started a five year regiment of daily Letrazole pills to prevent the cancer from spreading. I got insight during this journey from the patient’s perspective into what health practitioners do on a daily basis at Bluewater Health. I am still amazed at their compassion and positive attitudes knowing that they dealt with patients like me daily.

Hear more of Michelle's story.

Throughout my journey, I received so much support from my family, friends and the community. Wanting to recognize the healthcare practitioners from Bluewater Health, my husband Al had the idea to hold a concert benefitting breast cancer initiatives. In 2013, the ‘Al Weiss and Friends’ concert was born. We continued the concert in 2014 and again in 2017, which is when we decided to designate half of the funds to the Mammography Department at Bluewater Health. Combined, the concerts have raised $50,000 for the community. Half of the show’s proceeds will again go to this important cause at our show on October 13, 2018 at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia.

With all of the improvements made in recent years in detection and imaging, and safeguards to help minimize the patient’s discomfort, I was lucky to have gone through this ordeal with no further complications (knock on wood!). I’d hate to think what would have happened had I not gone for that routine mammogram six years ago. Throughout diagnosis and recovery, the staff and equipment at Bluewater Health gave me a fighting chance at defeating breast cancer. I truly can’t thank them enough.



Breast cancer fighter and survivor
Grateful patient

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