Moving Forward

Atieh Behravesh reflects on the support she received from the Breast Cancer Supportive Care Clinic

Atieh Behravesh with her dog, Meelo, photographed by Jared Sych.

In February 2019, Atieh Behravesh, who was 37 at the time, was diagnosed with stage 4 Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC). Despite multiple exams, ultrasounds, and a mammogram, and Behravesh’s insistence something was wrong with her breast, her cancer went undetected for nine months.

She began her cancer treatment shortly after diagnosis at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, including multiple rounds of radiotherapy and chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. Currently, Behravesh is on hormone therapy and is continuing to take oral chemotherapy from her home in Calgary to help manage her disease.

Behravesh admits that, at first, she was angry that it took so long to receive a diagnosis. But through the support she received at the Breast Cancer Supportive Care Clinic, she’s finding ways to move past her anger. To help cope, she’s found connection and purpose through social media, specifically through Instagram. There, she shares her cancer journey and has found a solid support network of peers she can relate to.

Today, Behravesh is committed to advocating for early detection and is sharing her story to help others, while encouraging people to know, and listen to, their bodies.

as told to Sara Samson

“I’ve always had a fibrocystic breast, so I go for check-ups every six months and have an ultrasound to check the size of the cyst. It had been normal for about seven years. But one day in August [2018], I felt something hard in my right breast. It wasn’t obvious to see but when you touched it you could feel something.

“I went to my doctor five or six times and he sent me for an ultrasound [and a mammogram] but [they] weren’t showing anything. I said, ‘I know something is wrong.’ But my doctor said, ‘Maybe you hit yourself on something, let’s wait and see.’ Finally, at the end of January, I went to the breast centre [at the Foothills Medical Centre], and within 30 seconds of looking at me the breast surgeon said, ‘Oh, this is concerning, let’s do the biopsy.’

“And that’s when my journey started. We did the biopsy and they told me, ‘Yes, it’s cancer.’ I was angry at the medical system. From August until January I was concerned and insisted something was wrong, but no one wanted to believe me. Why had I waited that long?

“The main thing that helped me [work through my anger] was being introduced to the Breast Cancer Supportive Care Clinic. It’s an organization in Calgary run by female physicians who [specialize in breast cancer care.] They do consultations because your doctor doesn’t always have time to explain every detail to you, so they can access your records and explain everything in a way that you can understand.

“My doctor there, Dr. [Ardythe] Taylor, I call her my angel. She explained everything to me: why this happened, why I had to wait six months. And it helped ease my anger so much. This ‘why’ question, which happens to everyone when they get diagnosed with cancer, was a big one for me; she gave me answers. I couldn’t appreciate it more. She even told me how to make a connection with my oncologist. She told me [what questions to ask] and now my relationship with him is great.

“People need to know their bodies. Don’t ignore anything that feels wrong, talk to your doctor. I could have ignored it easily, but I feel like I saved my life. And everyone can do that as well

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