Submitted by Royal Inland Hospital Foundation
This year with the release of the Royal Inland Hospital Foundations annual report: Community Connection, we are highlighting a grateful patient story. Katelind Bourassa, of Barriere has agreed to allow us to share her story with our donors, and with our community.
Despite her current significant health challenges, Katelind feels it’s more important than ever to give back.
“I am so grateful to all of the donors that have supported Royal Inland Hospital Foundation in the past”, explained Katelind. “Their generosity has made my journey easier. It has made the latest technology available to my healthcare team, and above all else has allowed me to remain close to home and with my family during this stressful time.”
“We are very thankful to Katelind for sharing her story with us during what is most definitely a difficult time for her and her family” said Heidi Coleman, CEO of the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation. “Patient stories allow us to share some of the amazing things that happen every day here at the hospital”.
This is Katelind’s story:
Welcoming my first baby into the world was the most incredible experience of my life. I’d had a mostly uncomplicated pregnancy until the last few weeks, but was fortunate to deliver a healthy baby boy. I’d been warned about the sleep deprivation new parents experience, but hadn’t expected to feel so weak for so long.
It was when Abe was three months old and we were out for a walk that I knew something was wrong. I went to the Barriere Health Centre where I underwent blood work. Later that day, I received a call from the doctor instructing me to go immediately to the Emergency Department at Royal Inland Hospital. Had I not gone to the doctor that day, I would be dead.
My husband, Rene, recalls, “By the time I arrived at the hospital Katelind’s skin was grey and it was clear something was seriously wrong”. My hemoglobin levels were dangerously low. I was given a blood transfusion and underwent further testing before being sent home. It appeared that I had a bleeding ulcer.
My symptoms suggested that I could have cancer, but as I was young and in seemingly good health, the doctor said there was only a very slim chance. I underwent the appropriate testing, mostly to rule out cancer.
I will never forget the look on my doctor’s face when he told me, while I held my baby boy, that it was in fact colon cancer. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It seemed, neither could he.
They even arranged a room with a crib to ensure that Abe could remain with me during my recovery.
The surgery was a success, but there was a very high chance that my cancer would return if I did not undergo chemotherapy. I had full trust in my doctors and decided I had no choice but to begin chemotherapy.
I’m currently undergoing chemotherapy in Kamloops. The Cancer Centre is a calm and welcoming place because of the generosity of donors.
Chemo has been rough. To be blunt, I hate it. I come to RIH every two weeks and continue treatment in Barriere for two full days thereafter. But to be able to undergo the treatment in such a warm and compassionate environment makes it much more bearable. The staff and volunteers go out of their way to make sure I’m comfortable.
Everyone knows my family and me by name. At times I need to bring Abe with me. They provide him with cuddles and will take him for a walk to visit other patients. They offer lunch to my husband. Abe loves to see Dr. Tevendale at my regular check-ups with her. Everyone goes above and beyond to make a negative experience as positive as possible.
Were it not for the incredible care I’ve received in both Barriere and in Kamloops, I would not be here today. While my battle with cancer is not yet over, I know I am in great hands and will continue to receive the best care possible.
No one wants to hear the dreaded word “cancer”. I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, and it had spread to my lymph nodes. I couldn’t believe that during what should be one of the happiest times of my life, I would be fighting cancer. But I knew I had no choice but to fight to be here for my baby. I was nervous for surgery and concerned about being away from my son, but my surgeon, Dr. Hanks, put me at ease and assured me that everything would be okay. The medical team was incredible.