Sam's Story

On September 8, 2008, my doctor said the words you never think you’ll hear at age 30: “You have breast cancer.”

Telling people the news was hard - my boyfriend, my friends, my co-workers, my family. I kept hearing the same words: “But you are so young!” It brought fresh tears to my eyes every time. Telling my Mom was the hardest. How do you tell anyone’s mother that her baby has cancer, never mind your own mother?

Sam smiles, sporting a bald head and a shirt that reads "Are you staring because I'm cute? (Proud Chemo Survivor)"For the next seven months, my life was overwhelmed with surgeries, chemotherapy, and appointments with long periods of waiting in between. The waiting was the worst part.

I also had a lot of decisions to make. The doctors told me I had the BRCA2 gene – the breast cancer gene, some people call it. That means I am at a much higher risk for breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer.

Many women with this gene decide to have a double mastectomy and have their ovaries surgically removed to reduce the risk of cancer in the future. Having my ovaries removed though... it would mean that I would never be able to have children.

Those seven months were the most horrible months of my life. At points, I wondered what I was even fighting for. On top of everything else, my boyfriend and I broke up, realizing we were better as friends. I did what I could to keep my spirits up, having hair cutting parties and spending as much time as I could with friends and family. I honestly didn’t know how much time I had left, so I was determined to make the most of it.

At the end of it all, I was ecstatic to find out that my cancer treatments had been successful. I know that I have you to thank.

Your donations to the Northern Cancer Fund helped build the exceptional cancer care program we have here today. We have one of the best cancer programs in the province, thanks in large part to generous donors like you. Getting that high-quality cancer care, right here, close to home, is something I’ll never take for granted.

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My doctors cautioned me that there was still a chance of recurrence. I made a deal with them: I would have the double mastectomy, but I wasn’t going to have my ovaries removed until I was 40. I desperately wanted to have a family.

Although things got easier for me then, I still struggled. I had changed. I felt like I had lost a bit of myself during my cancer journey. I joined the Breast Cancer Support Group, became active in Dragon Boating, and slowly I started to enjoy life again.

Sam and her husband Steve pose on their wedding day.Funny how life works, you know? Soon after I felt like I was getting my life back on track, I met Steve, the love of my life. We got married and had our beautiful, incredible daughter Sophia. This summer we will celebrate me being cancer-free for 9 years, being together for 6 years, and being married for 4 years. Most importantly, we will celebrate Sophia’s 3rd birthday. That’s when you say to yourself, yes, this is what I fought for.

I’m often asked to speak about my cancer. At first, I wondered why – I’m no one special. But I am someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s friend. And now, because I successfully fought my cancer, I am someone’s wife and someone’s mother. You realize that you are someone very special to a lot of people. I’m sure you have people in your life who are very special to you, too.

Those are the people you and I can help today. I feel so lucky to be writing to you because so many people don’t survive their cancers. While I was going through my treatments, two of my friends passed away. On the other hand, I think about how, just 10 years ago, my odds of survival would have been a lot lower.

Thanks to countless generous donors like you, there have been many advances in breast cancer care and treatments. I want to help continue improving the odds for future patients – including my daughter, who may have inherited the BRCA2 gene from me.

I’m writing you today to ask for your help. Your donation to the Northern Cancer Fund will help bring the latest care options right here to Northwestern Ontario. It will also help support our local researchers who are directly or indirectly helping find tomorrow’s better treatments.

I’ve seen firsthand what a difference your donation can make. Please help make the difference in someone else’s life as well; I’m living proof you can.

With my gratitude,

Samantha Hurley
Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Friend, and Cancer Survivor

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P.S. – I know life is busy, so please make your gift right now, while you are thinking about it. You can donate online here or call (807) 345-HOPE (4673). Thank you!



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