Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
How long have you been a Vancouverite? My entire life. I was a born and bred in East Van, and don’t anticipate leaving the city anytime soon.
I’m a Senior Compliance Analyst at a hyperWALLET, a Vancouver-based company specializing in global money transfers, and financial technology solutions.
After being diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer in 2010, rather than allowing this diagnosis to guide your days, you took this opportunity to make changes to your lifestyle and to live by your mantra of ‘finding the beauty in the fragility of life’. Can you provide some insight into this experience and how it has developed over the last few years?
I think it’s very easy to take very little things for granted. When I was undergoing treatment, every moment was laboured breathing; every moment was a 120 beat-per-minute heart rate. The rare moments I wasn’t in excruciating pain were moments I cherished immensely. Never will I take something simple, like having the energy to lift a mug, for granted. The ability to just sit and breathe, to me now, is a miraculous thing. Luckily, this mindset has stuck with me since that experience – I have been genuinely humbled, and I remember to show gratitude for even the smallest things in life.
You are involved with the Cancer Positive organization, who are dedicated to helping connect and communicate with people the benefits of positivity in coping with cancer. Can you tell us a bit about this group and how you first became involved?
Cancer Positive sets a goal to celebrate life – to find inspiration, in even the darkest of times.Their goal is to provide people with uplifting quotes, information, and build a community emphasized on sharing and connecting. I first became involved when a friend of mine that works with the organization asked if I would like to feature my story. Recently, I was asked to be a Cancer Positive Ambassador, and I am very excited to be part of such a great organization.
In many aspects, the power of storytelling has been noted in providing information, comfort and closeness. Can you speak to your own experience with the power of storytelling?
Often times, people feel emotions that they can’t communicate to others because they don’t even really understand it themselves. It’s a horrible feeling to feel like you’re all alone, and that nobody can understand or relate. When you hear someone’s story, it’s as if they reach out to you directly, and say, “Hey, it’s okay – you’re not alone. I’m going through the exact same thing”.
For those who have been recently diagnosed with cancer, or who have a family member or loved one who are facing the struggles that go along with this diagnosis, can you provide any insight or resources that helped/help you stay strong in this process?
Oh, definitely! Cancer.net has an amazing section on managing emotions and communicating with loved ones. There’s a whole section on what to say, and what not to say to someone who has cancer, how to parent while having cancer, how to live with a spouse who has cancer, etc. You’d be surprised at some of the things you think is okay to say, but is pretty terrible if you actually did.
Also, YACC – Young Adult Cancer Canada is a great place to connect with other people who are 35 and under who are going through this battle. Most support groups are aimed towards a higher age group, since it’s so uncommon to get cancer in your 20s and 30s. YACC sponsored me partake in one of their Survivor Retreats, which really helped me open up and deal with diagnosis – something I was pretty unwilling to do. That just goes to show you what a powerful impact these groups have on people. I am so happy to see such great resources so readily available online.
Words ©Ehren Seeland