Bolton Mother to Fight Back Against Cancer
Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of joy, a journey of optimism that brings new life into the world. For Samantha Hamilton it was also a time clouded by the uncertainty of cancer.
It was early 2013 and Hamilton was pregnant with her first daughter, Emma. She was five months in when her family was rocked by heavy news. “While I was pregnant, we found out that my mom, Carol, was diagnosed with uterine cancer,” explains Hamilton, a Bolton mother.
This was the second time Hamilton’s mother was told she had the disease — she beat thyroid cancer years prior, when Hamilton was only five. The news was difficult to take, adding extra stress to Hamilton’s pregnancy. But it was made even more difficult when, three months later, her grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her aunt, who had breast cancer a few years prior, was told it had returned.
Carol had surgery to remove her cancer and her aunt underwent a double mastectomy. Both are doing well, and as Hamilton explains, both are cancer free. Her grandmother, unfortunately, did not survive.
“That was probably the hardest thing: trying to deal with her being sick and then going to the funeral when I was eight months pregnant,” Hamilton says.
Because of the level of cancer in her family, Hamilton is now at high risk of being diagnosed with the disease, meaning she needs screenings more frequently than the average individual. It also means her daughter is at high risk as well.
“It was always scary to think of my mom dealing with this stuff. Now I’m ten-times as scared to think that my daughter might have to deal with it, too,” she says.
But Hamilton isn’t wallowing in self-pity. She and her mother have joined the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers benefitting the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre as a way of giving back to those who helped her family through their ordeal and to support research into combating the disease. Over the 11 years that the Weekend has run, it’s raised over $141 million with the help of thousands of participants, and Hamilton and her mother are joining the ranks.
“My mom has to be probably one of the strongest people I know,” Hamilton says. Carol was always more concerned about her daughter’s pregnancy than she was about her own circumstances. “She tried to brush it off, like, ‘Oh, no. It’s no big deal. It’s nothing. They caught it early. It’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.’”
Hamilton and her mother will be drawing on that strength for the Weekend on September 6th and 7th, and are looking to the community for support on their journey. Hamilton isn’t sure if they’ll find a cure in her or her daughter’s lifetime, but there’s hope that some treatment or improved method of screening could emerge with enough research. “And any help that anybody can give is definitely needed,” she adds.
For those whose lives are touched by cancer, Hamilton wants you to know that you’re not alone. “As much as it might hurt people, they’ve got to talk about it,” she says. When her mother was diagnosed, she didn’t want to discuss it with others, preferring to just be left alone. But, even with her and her daughter now being considered high risk, she knows that this isn’t the way.
“There are a lot of people that are getting diagnosed with cancers that are beating it. It’s not necessarily a death sentence anymore. So getting out there and talking to other people — it’s just going to make you feel better and realize that it’s not the end.”
To support Hamilton and her mother, visit EndCancer.ca and search for “Samantha Hamilton” and “Carol Hamilton”. All donations are welcomed.