This month we’re turning pink in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. We’re wearing limited edition pink scarves and ties, and we took part in the CIBC Run for the Cure. Dina Gallant is a WestJet Customer Service Agent in Deer Lake, Newfoundland; she is also a two-time breast cancer survivor. We spoke with Dina on the phone the Friday before Thanksgiving weekend. With Dina’s permission, we’re sharing some of that conversation here.
WJ: So, Dina. Thanks for taking the time to talk this morning. Could we start with you telling a little bit of your story?
Well, it’s not so much a story, as it is a journey. A story is like something you can read and then put down, but I’m on a journey – every day. I’ve been with WestJet since January, 2008. Six months before I started, I got my first breast cancer diagnosis. The doctor sat me down and said, “Dina, this is a dark day for you.” I answered the best way I could: “Okay, so what’s plan B?” Attitude is everything, and even when the news is bad, you’ve got to try to stay positive. You take the treatments, you do what’s next, and as you progress, the doctors will tell you what the possibility of going on cancer-free is. After five years, I was up to 85%. Then, in 2015, I was again diagnosed with breast cancer.
Why do you feel it’s important to share your journey with others?
I was a private person, but the shyness is gone. And the more we talk about it, the more we’ll know. Early detection is important, so women need to know that they should get their mammograms done regularly. And there are other private people who need to know that they don’t have to go it alone. One thing I’d mention to women who might go through this, is that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is definitely the organization that’s going to help. The people who run the Foundation, and everyone who works for them, they shouldn’t go unnoticed. I was at this year’s CIBCRun for the Cure, and when I saw the survivors, and all the support, it was so overwhelming. I had tears, but they weren’t from sadness. There was joy, and relief in knowing that we’re not alone. And any woman who goes through this should know – you’re not alone.
With Thanksgiving this past weekend, you’ve got a real message of gratitude.
I look at life so differently now. I don’t take anyone, anything or any day for granted. I appreciate my friends, family and coworkers so much. The culture at WestJet is so positive and caring. People say “you’re a hero”, but I’ll tell you, my heroes are my family – my husband and my children – my fellow survivors, my friends, the doctors and nurses, the breast cancer community, and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. They’re the people who make it possible for me to be strong.
We put Thanksgiving on the calendar as the one day each year when we can all celebrate gratitude. Then we realize that if we just take the time, we can see so many reasons to be grateful, each and every day. CBCF helps women and families every day to overcome breast cancer and lead fulfilling lives. We’re grateful for the opportunity to help. Thanks for sharing with us, Dina – we’re so happy to be on the journey with you.