“My friends and my family are my lifeline, I always say. We share insights, we laugh, we cry, and we discuss just about anything together. Perhaps the fact that I got breast cancer in my twenties had something to do with it or perhaps because they are such remarkable individuals. Discovering a lump on my breast while visiting dorms for my move to law school after my undergraduate degree, changed the course of my life forever, and made the next two decades transformative.
I travelled a lot and met many people who I consider to be angels on earth. They supported me and guided my path with their experience, expertise, and love. I was young I had something different from others my age—a mountain of experiences and the challenge of difficult decisions. I may have travelled the world (as I always dreamed) but not quite with the ticket that I wanted. The ride was bumpy and hard. When I was diagnosed with a BRCA1 mutation in my 30s, this road got bumpier with bigger decisions: Do I have a child? Do I remove my breasts, ovaries? Or do I give up? It took three countries of surgical oncologists and a team of amazing genetic specialists to help my decision making process. Thanks to the team at the Jewish General Hospital (genetics), The Royal Victoria Hospital, The Montreal General Hospital, and finally London’s Royal Marsden Oncological Hospital, I made some very life-altering choices. I owe a great debt of gratitude to the team, the doctors, and all researchers who helped me, and my family. And for giving me my life back.
I may not have been able to have children of my own, but I give my best self every day to children. I spend precious time with my nephews, nieces, and Godchildren, watching them grow and being an integral part of their lives. I am an active member of an orphanage, where my daughter (foster child) was raised. As an educator and owner of several language schools (for eighteen years), I continually aspire to be a teacher, mentor, and role model for children of all ages. I share everything and anything with those around me and take great care to ensure the wellbeing of my family and extended family. While my health has taken many twists and turns, I have always faced challenges head on. I never ask why me? Instead I keep my faith strong and my spirit open. I wake up each day happy and grateful. I carry the innocence of a child in my heart and the scars of a warrior on my body, always with a smile and a prayer that says: thank you!
I love people, animals and nature as each has played an important role in my healing journey. From my precious Maltese, Angel, to my peaceful nature walks and forest paths, my life is about giving and receiving. I consider myself a teacher and a student. Its not about fighting cancer or fighting anything…its about living with it, making peace with it, and remembering to breathe each day. When people ask me how I do it? Its simple: teamwork—my family, friends, specialists, and most of all my faith. Cancer doesn’t define me or break me. I am here to share my story and to hear yours. I live my life like it’s a celebration. Although it may be a faux pas for some of us women to talk about our age, I’ll tell you this: I was thrilled to turn 40 and I’m even more thrilled that I will turn 50 soon! Life is beautiful after all!”