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Leanna McKay

Survivor Profile

Leanna McKay

A little bit about you:

Name: Leanna McKay

Age: 36

City: Calgary, AB

What was/is your diagnosis?
Stage 3b colorectal cancer with ovarian mets

What year was it? What was your age at the time?
2018, 34.

What is something you’ve done that you’re really proud of?
Raising $5,000 with my team for the Relay For Life.

What are your hobbies?
Shopping, reading, crafts


Your diagnosis:

What was your life like before your diagnosis?
Busy; I had two jobs.

How did you find out you were sick? What led to your diagnosis?
I was very ill for about six months. I couldn’t walk or eat, I had been going to my family doctor who told me it was IBS. My mom had enough and we went to the clinic for a second opinion; that doctor saw my blood work and said I needed to go to the hospital.  When I got there, I had a fever of 42 and was one iron pill away from a blood transfusion. I was put insolation, they ran lots of tests, and the next day they did a colonoscopy and found the cancer. The tumour had perforated my rectal lining which is what gave me the infection which was what was making me so sick. They figure the cancer had been in there so long it started breaking the bones nearby. When they found it, they figured I had it for five to seven years judging by size. It is in operable because it’s to close to my spine.

What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
I’m not ready to die!

In which hospital(s) are/were you treated?
Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

What did your treatment consist of?
Ilieostomy surgery, 17 chemos, removal of my ovaries and appendix, and then 25 radiations.

What is your current medical status?

The issues:

Did/Do you feel isolated from your peers since your diagnosis? If so, how did/does that affect you?
I do feel isolated. It’s horrible, I just want to have my life back.

Did anyone talk to you about fertility options before treatment? If so, how did that affect your decisions? If not, what do you wish you had known?
They did ask if I wanted to freeze my eggs, but I never wanted children so it wasn’t heart breaking.

Has your cancer diagnosis affected any of the relationships in your life? If so, how, and how are you managing them?
It affected all of them. It’s like people think your contagious. I also feel guilty for people having to take care of me.

How has your cancer experience affected your body image, and your relationship to your body?
I have an ostomy bag which doesn’t make me feel good!

What are some lifestyle changes you’ve made since your diagnosis?
I haven’t really made any. I was living a healthy lifestyle before. I am healing from a surgery right now so I’m not doing much.


Resources and recommendations:

What would you add to a treatment-day playlist?
“Good Life” by One Republic


Stay in touch:

What would you like to say to other young adults dealing with cancer who are reading this profile?
Try to stay positive! I know it’s hard. Believe in yourself you can do this.

Are you interested in helping others facing cancer challenges? If so please let us know how you can be contacted.

If you want to get in touch with Leanna, please send a message to [email protected] and we’ll forward it along!


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