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"I could have gone back to have all my cancer treatment at Mass General Hospital, America’s #1 Research Hospital and Harvard Medical School’s original and largest teaching hospital, but I wanted to have my treatment at home – and that’s what Cape Breton is to me.
My name is Jennifer MacDonald and I found a lump in June 2016, shortly after moving to Cape Breton to old family farmland. I came here with the original intention of spending summers here, but quickly became attached.
Having been through cancer before, I was already aware of what it’s like. I knew that it had the potential to completely destroy me and take every bit of goodness away. I knew that treatment was necessary – and I knew it needed to be now. Even more shocking, when I had the chance to go back to one of the leading research hospitals in the United States, I chose to have my cancer treatment here. I chose Cape Breton. I chose home.
So, when the treatment plan came up for my breast cancer, I dug my roots even deeper into Cape Breton soil and made this beautiful island more of home than ever. I received 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 30 rounds of radiation and a double mastectomy surgery all here – at home. I was in awe at the staff. The kindness and hope that they showed me immediately made me feel so solid about my choice to have treatment here. My oncologist was so easy to talk with, I left with a real plan and felt at ease.
I was well aware of the dangers, but I felt safe here. I was ready to beat this. Radiation wiped me and surgery was hard on me, but I was home.
Just as I embraced Cape Breton, Cape Breton embraced me. I’ve met so many people and developed important and exciting relationship. I even had the opportunity to start my own business, AJ Country Boarding and Daycare in beautiful Port Morien. I live along the ocean, work with dogs and have beat cancer right here in Cape Breton.
I’m so glad I chose this path. I want to see the patients who come after me to have access to what I had. I want to see the future cancer treatment become even more accessible and even more comforting for those who will unfortunately have to follow in my steps. My new home community is so generous and I’m proud of this community that looks out for one another.
If you asked me a decade ago I would never have guessed I’d be living on a small island off the North Atlantic in a fishing village with dogs, instead of one of America’s biggest cities dealing with professional athletes, I could have never guessed it. However, being on this island, I’ve never been happier.”