Barrie woman shares mental health struggle with return of aggressive breast cancer

Candice Doucette was given the grim news that she had six months to a year to live when her breast cancer returned last February.

"It wasn't just back, but it came back with a vengeance. I have tumours in my lungs, lymph nodes and spine," Doucette said. "It metastasized."

At the same time, she said it wasn't just her physical health deteriorating but her mental health.

"I found myself depressed and isolating and not wanting to get out of bed."

It's a familiar feeling for Doucette, who said her latest diagnosis compounded her anxiety, depression and PTSD.

She turned to her support network and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for help.

"It used to be considered a weakness and the stigma around (asking for help). You are not weak if you ask for help, and I believe that 100 per cent," the Barrie woman said.

Doucette believes Bell Let's Talk day is important in generating that conversation.

The CMHA said the pandemic increased the need for mental health support and people need to know they can reach out.

"You really don't know what someone might be going through in this experience," said CMHA mental health and addictions counsellor Andrea English. "We have done so well as an agency to break down the barriers so we can access people who really need our services the most."

Now in its 12th year, one local mental health expert credits Bell Let's Talk as one of the best initiatives he's seen in his 40-year career.

"It's been one of the most incredible ways of elevating the importance of mental health that has occurred," said Glenn Robitaille, director of ethics and spiritual care at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health. "People are taking the time in the community to talk about mental health, to hear about issues that are affecting their lives and others."

While Doucette admitted she still has rough days, she said talking has been the best form of medicine.

"Talking has helped me 100 per cent. Please don't keep it to yourself."

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