Stories / Patient stories

Sara’s Story

Sara’s Story GRHF story Sara’s Story GRHF story

They say change doesn’t happen overnight, but it does when it comes to cancer.

In the fall of 2017, my doctor told me I had triple negative breast cancer. In that moment my life changed. Suddenly, I had all these difficult decisions that I never thought I’d have to make. Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, so many treatments and decisions…it was all overwhelming.

When I told my husband, I asked if there was any way we could go through this without telling anyone. Telling people that I had cancer made it real, but the support I received was amazing especially from my workplace.

It was difficult to tell my employer, Advocate Insurance Group. I felt badly because I had just recently joined their team. Such horrible timing.  When I shared this concern with the owners of the brokerage, Doug and Scott Heaman, their reaction and response blew me away.  They said the timing was just as it should be and they said – ’You were brought here so we could go through this with you and support you.’ Since that moment, they had my back every step of the way and went above and beyond.

In November, when I had started my treatment, they surprised me with #SaraStrong, a campaign to sell pink bracelets with the proceeds donated back to Grand River Regional Cancer Centre, the place where I was being treated. Photos of my colleagues and friends wearing the bracelets flooded my email and phone and it always gave me a boost, especially on chemo days.

I’ve been fortunate to work with many great people in my career but the team at Advocate brings new meaning to words like compassion and integrity. They’re a very special group of people and encouraged me to make getting better my number one priority.

‘Love’ is one of Advocate’s core values. Our president, Scott Heaman, would tell you, ‘to us the attribute of ‘love’ means finding ways to support and help others at our own cost. We look for ways to show our love and encouragement to our team, our clients and our community. Giving back and finding community connections is a big part of who we are.’

That’s what they did for me. The #SaraStrong campaign raised $5,000 for Grand River Regional Cancer Centre.

While nothing could fully prepare me for cancer treatment, I found that the support of my colleagues and the seamless, exceptional care I received from Grand River Hospital is why I am well today.

Having been a board and committee member with Grand River Hospital Foundation I have always recognized the great work Grand River Regional Cancer Centre provides. But receiving the care for myself, I have a whole new appreciation and gratitude to the staff at this incredible facility right here at home. And I have immense gratitude to my workplace for supporting a very important part of our community that has become dear to me. Imagine what our hospital could be if more people and businesses financially supported our hospital.

Today, the cancer is gone and I’m back to my healthy, active lifestyle sporting my bracelet. For me it represents love and support and that goes with every outfit!


~ Sara McLennan, former patient