Life with Breast Cancer
Source: Merck Canada employee Jason Bowie and his wife, Vicki Bowie, pictured in Newfoundland during a summer vacation in 2021.
In May 2021, the day after Mother’s Day, Vicki Bowie was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. A routine mammogram identified a small two-centimetre mass which initially didn’t cause much concern – simply a follow up ultrasound mammogram to confirm if it was just a cyst. However, it turned out to be cancerous. Vicki, who had been going for annual mammograms since she was 45, was in disbelief. She and her family went from planning their summer, to planning her treatment.
“I was totally oblivious to the fact that anything would be wrong with me because everybody thinks they’re invincible.”
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among Canadian women, with an estimated 1 in 8 Canadian women who will be diagnosed during their lifetime.1 Dr. Gretty Deutsch, Vice President, Medical and Scientific Affairs, Merck Canada says routine screening is important for early detection and to help improve patient outcomes. “It may seem like something that’s challenging to prioritize in our busy lives, but it could help make a difference for your own health outcomes.”
Vicki, a nurse, is grateful her cancer was caught early and credits regular mammograms.
To treat her cancer, Vicki opted for a bilateral mastectomy and was in the operating room just three weeks after Mother’s Day. Treatment planning is never an easy decision, and everyone’s health journey is unique.
“I consider myself lucky in the context of having had breast cancer. I was fortunate that I was diagnosed early enough that I could take care of it.”
Making a difference for patients everywhere – starting with those at home
For the Bowie family, this news hit close to home in more ways than one. Vicky’s husband, Jason, is an Associate director of Oncology at Merck Canada. He says when he got the news his personal and professional life collided.
“It rocked me to my core,” said Jason. “Life happens when we make other plans, but cancer does not differentiate.”
As part of the Merck Oncology team, Jason shows up for patients in his work every day, to make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer – the healthcare professionals, the extended teams, the patients and their families. In his role, and collectively with his team, Jason is now even more motivated to bring hope to patients with cancer.
Today, Jason and Vicki are focused on the future. Her hope for people everywhere – whether they have breast cancer or not – is to fully embrace everything life has to offer.
“What I’ve learned from it, is that I’m not going to wait for things anymore. You know how sometimes you say, ‘I’m not going to go on that trip this year, I’m going to wait until such and such.’ Well now, my advice is: what’s the point of waiting? You never know what’s going to happen, so you might as well enjoy life if you can, in the moment.”
1Canadian Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Statistics. Taken from: https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/breast/statistics. Accessed October 21, 2021.