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N.S. woman shares cancer journey in hopes of changing the way people view death
A Nova Scotia woman is hoping her story will help people change the way they look at cancer and death.
For decades Audrey Parker has been a well-known fashion and image consultant in the Halifax area. Now, the woman who's taught so many about style is hoping to share some new advice on a very personal subject.
“I woke up the morning of Jan. 22 with Bell's palsy and I had just started taking a steroid called prednisone for an auto-immune disease that was diagnosed that week and I went to the emergency,” says Parker.
She says the doctors thought maybe she had a stroke, so they did some tests – including a bone scan.
“They didn't like the look of them, they realized it was metastatic cancer. Then the question was, where was the primary source,” says Parker
Parker was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer, which had metastasized to her bones. Both her mother and grandmother have also had breast cancer.
“I cried, I think for two seconds in the hospital and I thought ‘I have a choice to either be poor me, be freaking out, or to make peace with it and take it as it comes’ and I chose the latter,” says Parker.
Parker says she wants to use her diagnosis, and her new reality, to inspire others about staying positive during what many see as a very negative and devastating time.
“Our life is really a journey,” says Parker. “I believe our life is a pre-destined journey, and we're here to learn and our life is also made up of very many decisions and it's the power of our minds and I think, for myself, keeping my body relaxed and at peace is so good to help prevent the cancer from spreading and just for my overall wellbeing.”
Parker says her funeral is planned, and as a lover of a good bargain, she shopped around online for the best price.
She is also looking forward to some vacations, with trips planned to Cancun and Paris.
However, she admits the hardest part so far has been breaking the news to her loved ones.
“My friends, oh my God my friends in Halifax, they're having parties for me, fundraisers, balls, because I didn't get to go to the Viennese Opera Ball my friends are having a ball in my honour, it's just, just, it makes me so emotional,” says Parker.
Parker has been sharing her story, raw and openly on social media.
“I do want to teach my grandchildren and friends and family how to leave the world as gracefully as you can.”
As she shares her experiences, the good and the bad, Parker says we all need to be advocates for our own health and take care of our bodies.
“I let my mammograms lapse and so I'm really trying to get the word out there,” says Parker. “We must do self-examinations, breast examinations, we must get our prostates checked and our pap smears checked.”
Her hope is that she can encourage others to appreciate their time and to fully embrace the life they're living.
“It's so easy to kind of get scared and to give up, but don't give up, life is too spectacular, just take it one day at a time.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau