Persevering through Cancer: Dalton Boulin Story
While most men his age would be looking forward to retirement, at 62, Dalton Boulin started the fight of his life - literally.
Now 68, he told Outlook, about his battle which began in February 2009 when he felt a pain and lump in his left breast. He immediately knew something was wrong, but unfortunately for him, the doctor didn't think so. Without even checking, he wrote Boulin a prescription for the pain and to get rid of what he thought was an abscess. This helped a little, but as soon as the medication was finished, he was back to square one.
He went to the doctor a second time and the same thing happened. After finishing the second batch of medication, he sought a second opinion.
"I think it is because we were so familiar with him. My family and I had visited him for about 40 years up until that point. He just took for granted that I was OK," Boulin admitted.
The second doctor he consulted sent him to the Cancer Society to do a mammogram, Apex Medical to do an ultrasound, and St Joseph's Hospital to do a biopsy. He was then sent to a specialist for the results.
"I recall the doctor saying, 'Mr Boulin the two of us are big men - I am not going to go around the thing with you. You have breast cancer'," he recalled. This, he revealed, he was not prepared to hear.
"I think I blocked out or something for five minutes. The doctor said 'Boulin, wake up man!'. I just zoned out. I have never been shot before, but I am sure it maybe felt like someone shot me with a 9mm in the head," Boulin recalled of his initial reaction.
He was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, and on April 27, 2009 he did his mastectomy. Today Boulin is not ashamed of his scars and without prompting, was proud to show Outlook his scars. He noted that the mastectomy was the easy part. The hard part was the chemotherapy.
Coping with Chemo
"The hard part was not the cancer, the hard part was the chemo. The chemo that was hell," he admitted.
He describe how he lost every stand of hair from his body and how his fingers and toenails as well as the palm of his hands turned black.
"You see salt, that tasted like water to me. Sugar was the same, I had lost all sense of taste. It was hard to eat because I just could not taste anything," he told Outlook.
His wife Cynthia also recalled what he went through while undergoing chemotherapy. She noted that at times she had to force him to eat because he would not do so on his own.
"He said that everything had no taste to him so he just refused to eat," she recalls. She noted that there were times after the chemotherapy that he had nightmares and was restless throughout the night and lethargic in the mornings.
Never giving up
However, there was no point at which he felt defeated or wanted to give up on his fight with Breast Cancer.
"Even through all of this, I never put my hand at my jaw and said that I can't bother or that I was ready to give up," Boulin told Outlook.
He admitted that he knew he had the support of his wife, children and most of all, God and his church family. This motivated him.
"Even now, there are times that I forget that I had cancer. Then I think because I had God and knew God, I was not worried. If it was life I was ok, and if it was death then I would also be OK," he said confidently.
His wife confirmed the support of their church- Independence City Church of Christ.
"They really supported us. Everyday someone else called the church and fasted. There was a sister called Mel Walker, he used to say that every time she called he received a gift. Then there was sister Enid Hart that was so supportive, they all were," she reminisced.
Cynthia admits that initially she was scared.
"I was scared, but afterwards when that initial fear subsided, you knew that you just had to get things done-we just did it. I made sure that he had nothing to worry about. I took up the mantle-everything that he would normal take care of I did. When someone has cancer or any serious illness, you do not want them to stress over day to day activities. The doctor told us that sometimes it is the stress that kills you. So I ensured he did not even see a bill, he did not need to worry about that or what we are going to eat. No, all he needed to think about is when he has to go get treatment and relax, that's it," she said. And that was it.
He completed his chemotherapy treatment in four months, and then went on tamoxifen for the next five years. Boulin is now cancer free and feeling blessed.
He advises other men to check themselves for breast cancer because if he had it so can they. He believes that persons should turn to God because admittedly if it was not for him, it would be much easier to give up hope.