October is breast cancer awareness month, and according to the Government of Canada, 1 in 8 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and 1 in 33 will die from it.
Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Laila Goodridge, advocates for women and men to talk to their doctors and get regular breast exams so that they can be proactive about their health.
Breast cancer awareness month is not only for Goodridge to discuss the importance of getting screened, but it’s also a time for her to remember her mother, Janice Goodridge, who passed away from stage 4 breast cancer on January 13, 2010, at 49 years old.
“I think it’s so critically important because early detection is key to long term survival. It’s important for people to talk to their friends, talk to their families, and talk to their doctor,” said Goodridge.
Goodridge found out about her mother’s breast cancer when she was in her last year of University, getting ready for a job interview.
“The world stopped. I couldn’t get home soon enough. I decided to move closer to home and take a job in Fort McMurray,” said Goodridge.
“I helped my mom through her last bit of cancer, so my last semester of University was spent shuttling my mom back and forth to her chemo in between my classes. It was a lot but we got to spend a lot of time together which was pretty amazing.”
Unfortunately, 11 months after being diagnosed with her2-positive breast cancer, Janice Goodridge passed away.
Goodridge remembers the kind of woman her mother was, up until her last moments.
“My mom was a fiercely wonderful, amazing woman. She was a small business owner in town – she was a hairdresser. She was a strong mom, a great friend, and she was really fun and funky. So when you see me with my fun shoes, I get that from my mom,” said Goodridge.
Many woman, like Janice, don’t experience any symptoms at all, this is why Alberta Health Services recommends women to get mammogram checks regularly. Cancer.org says that women aged 45 to 54 should get a mammogram every year. Women 55 and older should get tested once every two years.
“The more people that get screened, the more people are aware that it’s important, the better chance that women get diagnosed with breast cancer at all ages. It’s critically important to understand the risks in your body, so that we can one day find a cure and have our success rates continue to go up,” said Goodridge.
The silver lining to Janice Goodridge’s cancer journey is that she was part of a drug trial that is now commonly used in her2-positive breast cancer treatment helping to save the lives of many women across the country.
“She was on a trial for Herceptin, and it’s pretty cool because even in her short amount of time-fighting the disease, she got to make life better for other people,” said Goodridge.
“That’s how she raised all of us, was to just do the next right thing and try and give back to your community and help out. She has shaped me into who I am. I have learned so many important lessons from my mom.”