Cancer brings best friends even closer

Janet Henhawk has been best friends with Stephanie Restoule since they were kids, and after learning that her friend had breast cancer, Henhawk decided she had to do something.

If she couldn’t do anything to stop the invasion of her friend’s body, she could at least do something to show her support and love by offering up her waste length hair to identify with Stephanie who has lost hers through chemotherapy treatments.

“She’s living without hair, and I didn’t want her to feel alone like that,” says Janette. Janette began gathering sponsorships, and last Thursday afternoon, at Mikey’s Place on Second Line Road, she fulfilled her promise to herself and her sponsors by having all her hair cut off in the presence of around 70 close friends and family.

Through sponsorships gathered this past month, Henhawk collected close to $2,000 for the family.

“The hair is going to Inspirational Hearts in Brantford, which turns donated hair into wigs for chemotherapy patients who have lost theirs in the cancer treatment process,” says Stephanie. “That’s where I got my wig.”

A little over four weeks ago, Stephanie and her husband Sean, a Fleet Manager at GRE, were living there lives as normal young parents with two kids, aged 6 and 2 1/2, and a whole life before them. Then suddenly, in a matter of two weeks, their world suddenly changed.

“In June of this year, I noticed something different in my breast,” she recalls. “I went to the doctor a few times for mastitis, which is an infection you get in your breast from a ruptured milk duct. I’ve had that a few times, but this time I noticed there was something different.”

On June 26, she went to her doctor who, immediately after the examination, booked her an appointment with a surgeon and a biopsy was scheduled. On July 9 results back and the news was not good. “I had stage 3-4 breast cancer,” she says. “And a rare, inflammatory, aggressive form of  it. On July 12, I went to the cancer clinic for the first time.”

The following Tuesday, Stephanie started her first round of chemotherapy. “In a matter of a couple of weeks my life changed completely,” she says. “I knew there was something wrong, but I put off going to the doctor because I was afraid to go.”

After she told her husband the bad news, initially there was a time of shock and disbelief,which quickly turned into anger. How could something like this happen to us? Why us, why now?

“It sure was a shock when I heard,” says Sean. “I really didn’t have any suspicions at all.

But she’s pretty tough. She’s quite a woman.  I try and support her as much as I can but she should be able to pull through this. You gotta believe that.”

Stephanie and Sean are now accepting the fact that they are in an epic battle against a very aggressive and relentless enemy.

“It’s just something I have been given to deal with,” says Stephanie.  “I am not letting it get me down and I am just pushing forward, day by day.”

Part of the Restoule family’s game plan is a family trip to Disneyland as soon as Stephanie completes her last chemotherapy session, and before a planned mastectomy.“I’m not going to wait,” she says. “I want us to go as soon as I can.”

She encourages women to not wait if they find something wrong, but to see a doctor as soon as you can for a diagnosis. With this kind of enemy, every day matters.

Being diagnosed with cancer is almost as devastating to friends and family as it is to the patient. Stephanie Restoule and Janet Henhawk have shared a close friendship for most of heir lives and when Stephanie was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer, Janet decided to help the family take a trip to Disneyland by offering up her hair. (Photo by Jim Windle)

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