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Portia Murray, Grateful patient and breast cancer survivor, who received treatment at Providence Breast Centre.
Women’s Health

“I mean, is anyone ever ready to die at my age?”

by St. Paul's Foundation


Originally written by Portia Murray, a grateful patient and breast cancer survivor, for St. Paul’s Foundation on August 30, 2023.

I remember so clearly when I first noticed the lump.

It was March 2022, and I was at work in an online meeting when I touched my chest and noticed something unusual. It wasn’t small and it seemed like it came out of nowhere.

I didn’t have a family doctor so I booked an appointment with a walk-in clinic as soon as I could. Since I was only 31, the doctor reassured me there was probably nothing to be concerned about. They referred me for an ultrasound at the Providence Breast Centre at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital. Immediately I was sent for further imaging and a biopsy because the radiologists “didn’t like what they saw.”

Everything became real at that point.   

I’d already been worried that it might be cancer, but at that point I just knew. Even before the official results came in. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with Stage 2A triple negative breast cancer – an aggressive, fast-growing cancer. I was 31 years old.

I’m writing to tell you my story today because your generous support of St. Paul’s Foundation helps to fund the groundbreaking research and treatment at the Providence Breast Centre.

Your gifts could very well have helped to save my life!

I’ll tell you more of my story in a moment. First, I’d like to ask if you will send a kind and generous gift today. Gifts will help St. Paul’s Foundation continue to support and improve the quality of care for patients. That includes funding new or updated equipment and technology, innovative research, and life-changing clinical programs specially created to help patients like me.

You’ll support research and testing of new treatments to improve patient outcomes. For instance, I was able to take a new immunotherapy drug, pembrolizumab, that helped improve the effectiveness of my chemotherapy treatments.

You’ll fund equipment and technology that is essential to diagnose and treat patients. I can’t tell you how many ultrasounds, mammograms, and PET and MRI scans I had to go through! I went through a lumpectomy as well as radiation treatments after eight rounds of chemotherapy, and I know donors like you help fund all of that equipment and technology, too.

In fact, there’s a recent technology that was fully funded by generous donors, which will replace the painful wires previously used to locate breast cancer tumours during surgery. Doctors can now insert a magnet the size of a sesame seed right inside the tumour, making the procedure more efficient, more precise, and – most importantly – more comfortable for patients!

I’m happy to tell you that I received a complete response to treatment and am in remission from breast cancer today.

I know it’s because of the wonderful care and treatment I got at Providence Breast Centre. And I know it’s thanks to caring and committed friends like you, who donate to St. Paul’s Foundation.

Thank you again for your amazing generosity – and for any gift you can make today. You really will make a difference to patients like me.

I’m not going to lie – I still feel scared. I need to stay in remission for five years before they consider me truly out of the woods. But I definitely feel a lot better knowing the amazing health care team at the Providence Breast Centre have my back. And that you are there, supporting their wonderful work.

Please make another life-saving, life-changing gift today. You’ll help other patients, just like me, receive the very best treatment and care. Give today.