Young family determined to beat cancer
They’ll be lacing up and running for the cure Sept. 30
Cheryl Dove was diagnosed with breast cancer in April. Her husband, Mike, and two young daughters, Jenna and Julia, help her remain positive as she fights the disease.
HUNTSVILLE – At the age of 32, Cheryl Dove didn’t think much of finding a lump in her breast. After all, she was young, healthy and had none of the risk factors for developing breast cancer.
But to the dismay of her husband, Mike, daughter, Jenna, and newborn baby girl Julia, the unthinkable became their reality.
She found the lump in her breast just a few days before Julia was born in April and immediately went for testing. After an ultrasound and a couple biopsies she was diagnosed with breast cancer on April 24.
“It turned our world upside down, at a time when we wanted to enjoy our new baby,” said Cheryl. “At the same time it was kind of a blessing in disguise because it puts things in perspective.”
Both Cheryl and Mike are nurse practitioners at the North Muskoka Nurse Practitioner Clinic in Huntsville. They met while studying nursing at McMaster University and have been married for nine years. As health professionals they know the statistics around breast cancer and were left in awe that a non-smoking, vegetarian with no family history of the disease would be diagnosed at 32.
“We just thought, ‘How could it be,’” said Cheryl.
But she had no time for denial.
“I just went into fight mode,” she said, while feeding Julia in their family room.
One of the hardest moments for Cheryl to face was giving up breastfeeding their newborn. In May she had elected to have a double mastectomy to limit her risk reduction and began chemotherapy treatments in July. She has just two more rounds of chemo to go.
With her early detection and aggressive treatment, Cheryl is confident she’ll beat the disease.
“I have to be, there’s no other option,” she said. “But there’s still that what if. I think that’s the hardest part now is learning to live with that what if because it will be with me forever.”
Cheryl and Mike have been open with their eldest daughter about the disease and said she understands it at the level a three-year-old can comprehend. When Cheryl’s hair began falling out she became upset until Jenna pointed out that daddy’s hair was falling out too.
“They’ve been really good for keeping things light,” said Cheryl. “A healthy distraction for sure.”
There have been a lot of emotional ups and downs for the family over the past six months.
“It’s weird because we have kids and you’re thinking about how they’re thinking about it, at the same time even though you kind of have emotions and feelings about it you feel like you can’t complain because you’re not the one going through it,” said Mike. “You totally readjust your outlook on life.”
This Sunday, Sept. 30, Cheryl, Mike and the girls will be participating in the annual CIBC Run for the Cure along with friends, family and coworkers as a team by the name of The Dangerous Divas and Dudes.
Their coworker, Kate Fisher, spearheaded the team. She refers to Cheryl as the iron woman. They both participated in the recent Terry Fox Run and even though Cheryl is in the middle of her chemotherapy treatments, she blew past Fisher.
“She’s unbreakable and reaffirmed my belief that women can beat it,” said Fisher. “I’m amazed with how strong and positive she is through out it.”
Cheryl credits her support system for her positive outlook, everyone from her husband and children, to other family members, coworkers, those involved with her treatment and even strangers.
“Breast cancer affects all of us in one way or another,” said Fisher. “If we don’t want to keep losing friends and family members we have to do our part and donate, whether it’s $5 or $50. Whatever you can manage is so important to finding a cure.”
The Dove’s want people to be aware that cancer can strike anyone, at any age, in any form and encourage people to get checked even if they have just the slightest concern.
“I hope they find a cure so my girls don’t have to go through this,” said Cheryl. On Sept. 29 she’ll be celebrating her 33rd birthday as Jenna celebrates her third.