For our second Day of Brave, we are highlighting Louise Bell this year’s YACC community Shave for the Brave Ambassador!
Louise connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) last year after being diagnosed with breast cancer on what would have been Regatta Day.
“I knew I had something there in my breast, so that was in the back of my mind for a few weeks, however I didn’t really let it get to me,” she said. “Before August 3, I was a master’s student, just wrote my thesis, just passed that in, getting ready to do my PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of New Brunswick. It was kind of an undergrad, master’s, PhD straight line set-in-stone for me, but then cancer just obviously blew things out of proportion. It changed everything.”
Louise says the feeling of being told “Unfortunately, it is cancer,” is an unforgettable hurt.
“Hearing ‘you have cancer’ is something you don’t forget. I was sitting in the chair thinking it was going to be bad news, really hoping it would be ‘Oh, it’s just a cyst, you’re fine,’” she said.
She immediately told her immediate family and partner connecting with as many people in person as possible. Her extended family planned to get together at the pond that day, and she made the decision to tell everyone about her diagnosis without hesitation.
She said, “My parents were like, you don’t have to go, you can sit this one out. What do you want to do? I was like, ‘Well, I need them, I need them to know, I need them to be my army of supporters.”
Louise says as a Psychology student, she knows the objective benefits of having a supportive social circle. She has her family for certain things, her best friends to vent to if she’s feeling her parents are being overprotective, and so on.
Cancer is different for young adults
After being diagnosed, Louise quickly learned how cancer is different for young adults. Beyond focusing on what she needed to do to get better, she had to answer questions about things like fertility risks, egg retrieval, and finances.
“I was lucky that I have my friends and family around me but it’s just so much more than the diagnosis and the cure. It’s your life that just got put on hold and really having to re-evaluate what your life looks like for you now.”
Connecting with YACC helped her answer some of those questions. “Since my diagnosis, YACC has supported me through so many ways. They understand in a way that no one else can.”
Louise is a member of YACC’s private Facebook group where she can connect with a supportive community of other people who know what it’s like to face cancer in your late teens, 20s, and 30s. For example, she reached out to ask about managing and coping with her impending hair loss, and heard back from a YACCer in Toronto who had great tips.
“Having that—across the country—knowing that you’re not alone, it’s empowering,” she said.
Sign up or donate at www.shaveforthebrave.ca to support Louise and other young adults living with, through, and beyond cancer!