Sylvia Pedley Lakeman from Willingdon, Alberta is a cancer survivor and fundraiser for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Here, she shares what her cancer journey was like and why giving back is important to her.
“My breast cancer journey began in the fall of 2009, after a routine mammogram. I began treatment and underwent a left mastectomy in early December of that same year. In January of 2010 after a biopsy on my lymph nodes to determine if the breast cancer was gone it was discovered that indeed the breast cancer was gone but I was newly diagnosed with CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia).
In the following year I underwent every test you could ever imagine to determine the stage of leukemia and to determine what treatment if any was necessary at that time. It was determined it was in the early stages and I would just be monitored as needed.
Years went by and life went on and I even lapsed in going into the Cross Cancer Institute for checkups. Then in the fall of 2016, it all fell apart…I began to feel ill, displaying all the symptoms of the CLL manifesting itself.
I started chemo in the early part of 2017, and it only got worse….getting weak and anemic requiring blood transfusions which in turn delayed the chemo….long story short things kept getting worse until I was so weak we called an ambulance to get me to the hospital.
I spent the next 4 months in the hospital where they finally determined that in fact, it was not the CLL causing the problems but that I had developed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. But now that the cause of my deterioration was found I was treated for it. I also had to undergo physiotherapy as I had become so weak I could no longer walk.
I was released from the hospital in the late summer of 2017 and have been working my way back to good health since. Today I am doing okay, the CLL is not showing itself at this point and I have just had a CAT scan and received the news that all is well.”
When asked what advice she would give to others facing cancer, she says the one thing she has learned is to advocate for herself.
“I have learned to ask questions…stay informed….let yourself feel what is happening to you and know that there is always someone there to help you. Be strong.”
Over the years, Sylvia has done what she can to give back to the Cross Cancer Institute. She donates to the Alberta Cancer Foundation and has participated in several of our fundraising events including the Albertans Helping Albertans Virtual 5k that took place in 2020 and 2021.
“The care I receive every time I visit the Cross Cancer Institute is top of the line and I appreciate all the support from the staff and volunteers there. That’s why it is important to me to give back, so others in my situation can receive the care and guidance that they need in one of the most difficult times in their lives. I will continue to do my part to ensure that there will always be help and support for those who need it. I donate what I can to support the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Cross Cancer Institute.”
“They were there for me, and I will be there for them.”
The Alberta Cancer Foundation is raising $30 million to change the way we treat cancer here at the Cross Cancer Institute, in Alberta, and around the world.
Click here to donate to the We Cross Cancer campaign.