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Carolyn & Bridget’s Story

For Carolyn and Bridget, Southlake is a family affair. Both mother and daughter work at the hospital, as well as Carolyn’s husband (Bridget’s father). Carolyn’s mother was also a housekeeper at Southlake for many years, so their history and relationship with the hospital inspired nothing but pride and confidence.

That’s why when both Carolyn and Bridget were diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year apart, they knew Southlake was where they would care without hesitation.

A supervisor in Southlake’s Support Services department, Carolyn has been part of Southlake family for over 20 years. “I think if I had to go somewhere else for treatment, it would not have been as comforting,” says Carolyn. “I wanted treatment in a place that felt like home.”

It was just after Christmas day in 2021 that Carolyn first felt a lump on her right breast. Within a few weeks, it was confirmed as cancer and she met with a surgeon at Southlake.

Through the spring and summer of 2022, Carolyn underwent systemic therapy, a mastectomy, and radiation, all while her daughter Bridget, a registered practical nurse at Southlake for over 10 years, was pregnant with her first child.

Carolyn missed family milestones like most of Bridget’s baby shower because of how ill she felt during this time.

“It was devastating because it was supposed to be a happy, exciting time,” says Bridget.

But by September 2022, the family could begin to breathe easier – Carolyn finished treatment and declared ‘cancer-free’. To have their mother and wife back and returning to the things she loved filled Bridget and her dad with happiness.

It was hardly a month later that lightning would strike the family again, and it would be new-mom Bridget’s life that would be turned upside down with her own breast cancer diagnosis.

Bridget’s journey was eerily similar to her mother’s; finding a lump while breastfeeding her then two-week-old daughter, she went to her doctor worried it was more than just a clogged duct. After an ultrasound and biopsy, her worst fears were confirmed.

Having just seen her mom go through the process of cancer treatment, Bridget unfortunately knew what to expect. After a lumpectomy and rounds of systemic therapy, she asked Carolyn to shave her head on Christmas Eve.

Following a full mastectomy and weeks of radiation in the spring of 2023, Bridget was also thankfully declared cancer-free in time for her daughter’s first birthday.

While cancer has rocked their family to their core, more than once, they knew that having Southlake in their community meant compassionate, leading edge care, close to home, and their best possible chance to beat their diagnosis. Despite both being staff, they never felt as if they got special treatment or care – just the same, exceptional care they witness time and again received by every patient who comes through Southlake’s doors.

“Every step of the way, staff show compassion and openness. They treat everyone like a family member, a colleague, or friend – in this our case, all three.”

Bridget was so moved by her cancer care journey that she now works in the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre, the very place she credits with saving both her life, and her mom’s.

“As scary as it was to have cancer, it ended up being a positive experience,” says Bridget. “We couldn’t have asked for better treatment. I know these people take good care of others, so I knew they were going to take good care of us.”

Join us in caring for families like Carolyn and Bridget’s, and the thousands of others who receive advanced cancer diagnosis and treatment at the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre each year, by making a gift to our HERE is Where Cancer Meets its Match Campaign.

Visit www.southlake.ca/here for more information