If there’s anyone that understands the power of mindset, it’s Rayette Dallaire.
Just a few years after opening her business in Bonnyville, the 46-year-old massage therapist was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
After going to the Bonnyville hospital for a thumb that just didn’t feel quite right, doctors discovered her blood pressure was off the charts.
Dallaire was told to take medication and come back in a few days if it didn’t improve.
“Two days later, it was still pretty high, so I went back to emerge,” described Dallaire.
After five hours of being hooked up to machines, Dallaire’s doctor decided it was time to start digging into the root cause of the issue.
“Through the blood work, they found out my parathyroid was over active, which in normal circumstances, would put calcium in your blood causing the blood pressure to be high, but my calcium levels were normal,” Dallaire said.
The further they looked into the problem, the closer they became to discovering the tumor on Dallaire’s thyroid.
After conducting a biopsy, Dallaire’s doctor confirmed it was cancer.
“My doctor told me it was the most common form of thyroid cancer, and he actually said ‘If you’re going to get cancer, it’s the one you’re going to want to get,’ because the treatment for it is they simply remove the thyroid gland,” detailed Dellaire.
Several weeks later, Dallaire went for surgery in Edmonton.
As standard procedure, she was referred to the Cross Cancer Institute.
Their recommendation, as with all patients overcoming cancer, was radiation.
“They can’t guarantee they will get every cell, but it was very isolated. For me personally, I refused the radiation. I couldn’t justify doing it on a maybe,” Dallaire said, adding because she didn’t want to undergo radiation, she was taking higher doses of medication in order to keep cancerous cells surpressed.
Dallaire goes for annual blood work checks, and has an ultrasound done every two years.
In 2016, Dallaire went for one of her biennial ultrasounds, but this time, things didn’t come back quite as clear.
Doctors had found spots on her thyroid, and although they believed it wasn’t cancerous, they couldn’t confirm.
“Everything was coming back normal, they just found a little blob of tissue on one side and two on the other, they just wanted to double-check what it was. My doctor said it could be scar tissue and not to panic because everything – the scans and tests – were all coming back normal,” expressed Dallaire.
Once again, she was referred to the Cross Cancer Institute.
“The doctor didn’t even read my file,” Dallaire reflected. “ They couldn’t prove to me there was cancer there, but they were pushing radiation.”
Once again, Dallaire refused the treatment method, and instead took her healthcare outside of Canada.
Dallaire’s mother had been previously diagnosed with Lupus.
“In Canada, they say there is no cure, but there isn’t a single trace of Lupus in her body now,” Dallaire said.
Her mother had attended a treatment clinic in Mexico, and Dallaire planned to follow suit.
She had hoped to have a PET scan done in Canada, but was denied because “I wasn’t sick enough.”
This was one of the reasons why Dallaire took control over her own healthcare.
She attended the clinic in Mexico where she paid a fee for the PET scan.
After being injected with radioactive glucose, doctors there confirmed the spots found on her ultrasound were not cancerous.
“I am cancer free,” Dallaire expressed.
Treatment methods in Mexico take a more nutritional and vitamin-based approach, she explained. This means, regardless of her clean bill of health, Dallaire has to continuously be conscious of her eating habits.
Dallaire had words of advice for someone who may have been recently diagnosed with cancer.
“Look into your options. Look at what’s out there apart from what you’re being presented here,” she said. “Sometimes, because of fear, we try and make a decision quick, and our bodies just get so beaten down. It can be overwhelming when you get that diagnosis, but take a moment and look at your options so you have a full-range of what’s available to you, and then you can decide from there.”
Like many cancer survivors, Dallaire remembers the first time she heard her diagnosis.
“There’s always that momentary sense of panic, but I have been through so much in my life, that I have learned not to put my faith in what I see with my eyes, hear with my ears, because the facts are facts, and they can change,” she expressed. “I personally don’t think it’s right to tell a patient you only have months to live, because it kills that person’s hope. It’s amazing to see how a person will fight as long as they still have hope.”
For Dallaire, mindset plays a huge role in a person’s success.
As someone who has overcome many obstacles, she knows first-hand the power of positivity.
“I have a more positive mindset in how I view things and my overall outlook. I also have my faith, which they have proven multiple times people with faith generally do better because they have God to turn to.”
Regardless of seeing things for the better, Dallaire still struggled through her cancer journey.
With a busy business to run, and very little energy to do so, she relied heavily on family to help her get through.
That wasn’t the only help she received though.
Dallaire recalled receiving a cheque from Haying in the 30’s, an organization that is near and dear to her heart.
“I remember sitting there looking at it, and the tears just started to roll down my face. It was a relief. I had something to pay my bills with,” described Dallaire.
Now that she can put the past behind her, Dallaire focuses on how her decision to seek treatment in Mexico changed her cancer story.
Although she understands that clinic isn’t for everyone, she couldn’t stress enough the importance of understanding your options.
“The thinking here is the treatments for cancer are chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. That’s about it. There are lots of options out there, and it’s always good to get another opinion.”