More than 30 years after surviving a cervical cancer diagnosis, Mary Beth Eckersley heard an unfortunately familiar phrase from her doctor, “you have cancer.” This time, she was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer.
“I was devastated and completely thrown off because I was sure they were going to tell me it was just a cyst and it was no big deal,” says Mary Beth.
Standing up to her diagnosis with an open mind and heart, Mary Beth moved forward with a positive attitude. She set goals along the way to help keep her spirits up — like becoming an accredited Aquafit instructor.
Mary Beth’s journey was made better thanks to her compassionate cancer care team at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Today, after 17 rounds of chemotherapy, she is now in remission.
Mary Beth knows that her successful treatment was a result of ground-breaking research.
“Cancer research to me is fundamental. If I had this cancer back when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, I wouldn’t be here celebrating life.”
“We are united. Cancer is not pretty and you cannot do it alone. I am so grateful to the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Tom Baker Cancer Centre for every moment I have to continue being a proud advocate for cancer research here in Alberta.”
In 2006, newly married Trevor Sauer was diagnosed with melanoma. And after about one year of unsuccessful chemotherapy, Dr. Michael Smylie had to deliver some grim news to Trevor and his new bride, Melissa. Trevor had six months to live. He had run out of treatment options.
As his oncologist, Dr. Smylie says, at the time there were no effective treatments for melanoma. “It was a very depressing tumour to treat,” Smylie says. “For a long time we didn’t understand the biology.”
A few months later, however, there was a glimmer. Dr. Smylie told Trevor about a clinical trial for stage four melanoma patients, investigating a new immunotherapy drug. He immediately signed up. What happened next is a result of world-class research that is happening right now at the Cross Cancer Institute.
“Trevor had a great response to treatment and is now cancer-free more than five years later,” says Dr. Smylie. Without that clinical trial and the support of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, Trevor knows he would not be here today.
“If I could say anything, I would say thank you. Thank you for giving me my life. Without your support, I wouldn’t be here. It’s as simple as that.”