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Image of Lucia, patient of Providence Breast Centre
Image of Lucia, patient of Providence Breast Centre
Women’s Health

After breast cancer. After mastectomy. There is hope.

by Kris Wallace


It all happened so fast. In only six weeks, Lucia went from a healthy, active 40-something to a breast cancer diagnosis, to a double mastectomy. Thanks to the care she received at the Providence Breast Centre, just six months later, Lucia is back to her healthy, active self.

After a biopsy confirmed she had cancer, everything was a blur – everything except Dr. Dingee’s absolute confidence in the outcome. Dr. Carol Dingee is a surgeon with the Breast Centre at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital (MSJ). Lucia recalls she said, “It’s okay if you don’t remember everything I’m telling you. All you need to know is that this is fixable!”

Lucia took Dr. Dingee’s words to heart and began a focussed exercise program to help her bounce back more quickly after the surgery. Meanwhile, Lucia’s nurse navigator, Imelda, got straight to work implementing Lucia’s comprehensive treatment plan.

“It was amazing how fast the Breast Centre was able to pull everything together to schedule my mastectomy and reconstruction so they could be done on the same day. It was all so reassuring.”

Lucia says that all the nurses at MSJ were “amazing” and she is especially grateful to Imelda. “Having someone like Imelda as your advocate really sets the Breast Centre and MSJ apart. She’s so helpful and compassionate. She’s also a breast cancer survivor, so I really felt she understood what I was going through. It was great to have her on my side.”

Image of Lucia in hospital

Lucia has equally high praise for Dr. Nancy Van Laeken, the Breast Centre’s plastic surgeon who did her reconstruction. “Dr. Van Laeken is extremely caring and organized. Her team booked all of my pre- and post-surgery appointments in advance. I also got the prescriptions I would need ahead of time. She’s phenomenal! And I couldn’t be happier with the results. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much, I just wanted to look okay in my clothes. But the results are incredible! Even my oncologist said, ‘They look fantastic!’”

Peace of mind for women

Women’s health affects us all. And Providence Health Care is committed to caring for women through all our health care needs. Did you know that the Providence Breast Centre performs 1,200 breast cancer surgeries each year — more than any other hospital in the province? And that St. Paul’s cares for the most complex, high-risk pregnancies, supporting women with diabetes, mental health, or substance use issues? Women from across B.C. come to St. Paul’s to deliver their babies.

That’s why we need your help today. Your gift can truly change women’s and families’ lives.

Please help green light the green light

When you donate, you are supporting health care for all of British Columbia. Even through our most difficult times, including during this COVID-19 pandemic, you help ensure compassionate care, innovation, advanced medical equipment, and technology are available to everyone coming to St. Paul’s and Mount Saint Joseph hospitals, and every long-term care home.

“You gave me the chance to receive life-saving care and continue living a high-quality life surrounded by those people I love. For that, I am eternally grateful. Together, we can make a big difference in women’s lives.” – Lucia