Katie Cowie’s cancer journey began when she found a lump in her right breast in late March of 2021. She was officially diagnosed a month later with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, HER2+.
Shortly after, Katie received a bilateral mastectomy at the Peter Lougheed Hospital, followed by chemotherapy and maintenance therapy at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Currently, Katie is receiving maintenance therapy treatments at the Drumheller Community Cancer Centre, which will continue until late June of this year.
Katie speaks highly of the systemic treatment nurses, the radiation reception staff, and the radiation technicians at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Likewise, her experience at the Drumheller Community Cancer Centre is also positive.
“Wendy and Tammy create a caring and compassionate atmosphere in the Centre,” she says, explaining the benefits of seeing them on a regular basis and being able to build a relationship with them. “Having their support makes treatment easy, and even fun. I look forward to seeing them.”
In terms of Katie’s specific treatment, she receives Herceptin, and in conjunction, she has also opted to receive Perjeta, which is a maintenance therapy drug specifically for HER2+. She explains that this will improve her overall treatment success and help reduce the recurrence rate. As Perjeta is not financially covered in Alberta or Canada, Katie is grateful that she was able to receive it through a silent auction hosted by her community of family and friends.
Katie’s family consists of her husband and two children, ages 5 and 2. With the side effects of treatment, she greatly appreciates her husband’s support with taking care of their family.
“I was so weak after [the] treatments that I could not look after my children on my own,” Katie reflects. “My husband has carried my end of our team for close to a year, and I will forever be grateful for him.”
Though her post-treatment journey isn’t without its challenges – with low energy levels, neuropathy in her hands and feet, a lack of appetite, and chemo brain fog – Katie maintains a positive attitude. “Today, I’m doing pretty well,” she says. “Every day is different, but overall, the side effects are improving, and I’m learning to manage them properly.”
For those experiencing cancer, Katie expresses the importance of mental health even in the midst of cancer: “Caring for your mental health is just as important as cancer treatments.”
Lastly, for everyone, Katie emphasizes the importance of being aware of your own body, such as practicing regular self-breast exams. “Cancer does not discriminate based on age,” she asserts. “Be diligent and aware of your overall health and body.”
Katie enjoys spending her time giving back to the community, as a part of the Prairie Chicks Committee. They are a group of five women who organize an “annual ladies’ night” fundraising event and have raised over $220,000 for local charities since 2013.
“We choose a charity group each year that supports our local rural communities, such as Stars Air Ambulance, Ronald McDonald House, The Stollery, and even our local food bank,” Katie says.
For 2022, the committee has decided to support the Alberta Cancer Foundation to give back to others who are also facing cancer; this fundraising event will be called the “Prairie Girls Gala”.
“We chose the Alberta Cancer Foundation in the hopes of helping local community members who may need to use the new Cancer Centre’s Adolescent and Young Adult Programs, or the Patient Financial Assistance Program,” Katie explains. “To me, it is wonderful to pay forward all the help and assistance I have received on my cancer journey.”
Fundraising events are a special way to honour and support our loved ones and all Albertans facing cancer. Hold an event that will support a specific program, cancer centre or cancer type. Click here to learn more.