It's Personal

Dr. Alexandra Ginty

I was in my office when the phone rang. It was my surgeon with the results of my tests. “Your tumour is malignant,” he said. Malignant -- that’s a word I’m used to hearing as a family physician in Oakville. But nothing—not medical school, not my training as an emergency room physician, not all of the cancer patients I’ve seen over the years—nothing had prepared me to hear that word used to describe my medical condition.

At age 47, around this time last year, I was diagnosed with something rare—two kinds of invasive primary cancer, one in each breast. I was home when I discovered a lump in my left breast. In my practice I see these kinds of lumps all the time, so I didn’t panic. A lump like that in someone as young as I am was likely to be benign. But to be safe, I had a mammogram at Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital. My appointment started at 8 am. At 1 pm I was still there. The radiologist had found something and said I needed to have a biopsy. He asked me if I wanted my surgeon to discuss the results of the biopsy with me. He was obviously concerned. And, suddenly, so was I.

A few days later, I was back in the hospital for an MRI, which is unusual. My biopsy suggested that I might have cancer elsewhere in my body. Then they performed an ultrasound on my right breast—and discovered another tumour. They ran a biopsy. Yes, it was malignant too.

So I had a bilateral mastectomy. I woke up thinking I’d been hit by a truck. I couldn’t even operate the remote control to adjust my bed, the pain was so bad.

When I was having my tests done, a nurse in the radiology department told me that the ultrasound that detected my tumour was donated by someone right here in Oakville. The MRI that confirmed my breast cancer was also bought with money donated by a generous and local supporter.

Those two pieces of equipment not only saved my life—they’ve touched the lives of other women in my family. That MRI result that caught the cancer on my other breast flagged me as a genetic risk of having a type of cancer that runs in families. Now my cousin, my sister and my daughter can take precautions so they don’t get the same cancers I did.

I’m living proof that donated medical equipment saves lives