Five months after Angelo and Jennifer Merendino were married, Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer. Shocked, terrified, and entirely uncertain for what the future may hold, the couple had only their mutual love to brave them through the struggle. Titled 'The Battle We Didn't Choose' the blod/photo series offers a very real look into the life, and adversities, of a cancer victim.
To many, cancer is a faceless epidemic, a disease that only effects statistics. Most are unaware of the massive changes, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually that occur in the life of a cancer patient and to their loved ones. That is what is most powerful about 'The Battle We Didn't Choose.' Through Merendino's photos, you can truly follow the harrowing journey the couple experienced, as a couple's love and story is linked to an often faceless disease.
Montreal sure is filled with inspirational people that we see on the news, and one of them happens to be Nalie Agustin, a young woman battling cancer. She was first diagnosed in 2013 with stage 2B Breast Cancer at the age of 24. She went through 16 rounds of chemotherapy and had a mastectomy on her left breast which was followed by 29 rounds of radiation. She shared this story on her YouTube channel, instagram, and blog and a year later was cancer free!
However, Nalie has been re-diagnosed this past January, 3 years later, with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer in her lungs. Her second journey began again as her doctor told her that there was no cure. Nalie now has to live with cancer for the rest of her life, but that isn't stopping her from living her life to the fullest!
Nalie shares her story with all of Montreal, and the world, through social media and has accumulated 30.1 K followers on Instagram and 9.1 K subscribers on YouTube. Her story truly touched my heart and I know that it inspires thousands more since everyone has been affected by cancer in some way.
Her story has drastically helped other patients who are battling similar or very different cancers. She has appeared on CTV, Breakfast Television Montreal, CBC, and the list goes on! She discusses her story and gives tips to fellow cancer patients and their loved ones. One of my favorite videos was about tips for couples coping with cancer!
She describes herself as a Metastatic Breast Cancer THRIVER and refuses to let cancer define her. Nalie also has a mission to bring awareness that cancer does not just happen to elderly women since she was 24 years old when she was first diagnosed. Her posts vary from how to fashion a headscarf to how she deals with cancer! She also posts before and after her rounds of chemotherapy.
Between her two diagnoses, she traveled to the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, did a TED talk and even wrote the “Chemo Secrets” e-guide! Her upbeat personality shines through all of her videos and posts on social media. She is more than a patient battling cancer, she is an inspiration to everyone. Nalie Agustin is constantly smiling, as some of you may already see on her Instagram. She creates a majority of lifestyle content like health tips and also many interviews!
I first came across Nalie Agustin on Instagram when I saw her on my featured feed. The post was of Nalie dancing and shaking it before her 6th round of chemotherapy. I was immediately intrigued and watched all her videos! It truly left me it tears and appreciation. Following her on Instagram while she posts in "real time" her cancer battle truly is something we can all benefit and learn from. She truly is a Montreal influencer!
P.S. Nalie Agustin is also trying to get on the Ellen Show! So, help her out by reposting one of her pictures or short videos on Instagram while tagging her and @theellenshow!
I had the pleasure of meeting Nalie Agustin at the A New Woman Today conference held in Montreal on February 20.
Nalie was one of the women who spoke on the panel, and I was overwhelmed and inspired by her story, which is why I absolutely had to share it with you gals and guys.
Born in Windsor Ontario, Nalie moved to Montreal at the age of 1. Coming from a background in Communications, she always knew she would do something media related. Her plans changed drastically at the age of 24, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She found lumps in her breast one day, and "as the bumps started to grow, I started to get worried. On July 17, 2013 - I got the call that said I was diagnosed with breast cancer."
Nalie was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer with 2 tumors in the left breast and 1 in the lymph node. Her cancer was hormone positive, HER2 negative and she did not carry the BRCA1 gene.
Having gone through 16 rounds of chemotherapy, one mastectomy (which is the removal of one of your breasts) and 29 rounds of radiation, almost 3 years ago from that first phone call, Nalie is now cancer free at last.
How did it feel to finally overcome this obstacle in your life?
People think that when you're [finally] cancer free, you can just move on and get back to your normal life, that's what I thought it was going to be like, but that's not how it works and I think that's something a lot of people don't know. When you get diagnosed with cancer it's a fear that lives with you for the rest of your life.
What is the "Post Cancer Blues"?
When you finish treatments, all the adrenaline is gone. During the process you have a set schedule so you can tell yourself, "Okay chemo is done, now surgery is next!" You don't even think about what you're doing, you just want to move forward. It felt like every week I would attend chemo like “go go go, fight fight fight” so once it was all over – that`s when it hits you – You finally have the time to reflect on what actually happened for the past 2 years. You look at yourself in the mirror and see a body that was completely ripped apart so you ask yourself – wow, did that really happen?
“My blog is raw footage of the day to day life of a 20 something year old with breast cancer. From the moment I was announced the diagnosis to the last treatment and now I provide tips & tricks on cancer & life today .”
Nalie wanted to build a platform where other women of all ages could relate to her story, and know that they are not facing this alone. "It's extremely rare to get diagnosed in your 20's, even your 30's so that's why I started my blog to try to find other people who would relate and provide them with online information and support."
photo cred - Shawn Bennett
What was the biggest challenge you faced after this trauma?
My challenge was to NOT change who I was. Remaining the same Nalie that everyone knows. I had big dreams, I wanted to travel. After my last treatment, I ended up traveling to South East Asia for almost 2 months.
What have you learned from this life experience?
Life is short. Anything can happen at any time. It's important that you really do what you love. Everything that you dream of, you need to work towards that NOW.
Chemo Secrets - which was launched on February 1st. Chemo Secrets is an E-guide that provides guidance and information for women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.
“I am known as a Cancer Coach, but I want to someday be a Life Coach.”
Nalie is empowering women with cancer, but also women without. She wants to inspire other people to follow their dreams, live life to the fullest, and never give up regardless of the situation you are in (whether it's fighting for your body, or looking for something else). Continue doing what you love.
What do you believe defines a woman in this day and age?
I think what defines a woman today is our ability to multi task, and not just being able to do a lot of different things but also to BE different things at the same time. To lead, to have a family, to run a business, all at once. We are known to be strong but also known to be vulnerable. We are known to be crazy party girls, yet intelligent and focused, that's whats so beautiful about women today - we are no longer labeled as just one thing.
You can now purchase Chemo Secrets online!
Self-examining your breasts at least once a month allows you to get to know your body and notice if there are any drastic changes such as lumps, redness, veins, discharge, nipple inversion etc. You can read more about it at www.feelitonthefirst.com
photo cred - Nalie Agustin
Join the Movement #Feelitonthefirst and make sure to take a picture of yourself "checking" your breast and posting it on Instagram every FIRST of the month.
Although there’s been a rise in body positivity and self acceptance over the last few years, women are still made to feel insecure about their bodies by the media. One of the most common physical attributes women are made to feel bad about are their breasts. Women are frequently made to feel that the smaller their boobs, the less attractive they are. Which is ridiculous!
Not only are small breasts beautiful too, but they come with some surprising benefits you may not have been aware of. So if you were looking for a few more reasons to love your boobs, here’s ten.
1. Button up shirts are your friend
Okay, so you might not be tearing through shirts like the incredible Hulk, but that doesn’t mean the buttons on your blouse won’t spontaneously burst open from time to time when you have big breasts. Much to the delight of small breasted women, this is rarely a problem… Although sometimes having too much fabric in the chest area is.
2. Straps Aren't Your Enemy
If you’re endowed with a large chest, then you know how frustrating it can be to wear seat-belts and messenger bags because the strap either forces its way into your cleavage, or pushes your boobs awkwardly apart. With small breasts, on the other hand, the straps (for the most part) lie comfortably and women don’t have to fear wearing cross-body bags.
3. They Always Have Your Bra Size In Store
Looking for a 36-DD? That’s too bad, because unless you shop online, they can be very hard to find. The smaller the cup size, the easier it is for to find a bra (especially if you’re looking in the discount bin). Not only is it easier to find a fitting bra in Montreal, but it’ll be easier to shop for a small sized chest if you travel abroad too.
Thinking of wearing that beautiful strapless dress that’s been sitting in your closet all winter? Then you better hope to hell that your strapless bra can hoist 35 pounds of boob without you having to rearrange it all night. For smaller breasted women, not only do their bras have to work half as hard to keep everything in place, but if their breasts are small enough they may not even need to wear one.
5. Your Back Hurts Less
If you have big breasts then you’ve had the misfortune of suffering from lower back pain as a result at some point in your life. Back pain is one of the main reasons women undergo breast reduction surgery, so next time you’re complaining about your A cups, just remember people pay to be your size.
6. They Can Feel More Stimulation
When it comes to having sex, small breasted women can count themselves lucky. According to a study, women with smaller breasts feel more sensation because they don’t have as much fatty tissue as they do glandular tissue. So if you were thinking of getting porn star sized implants, maybe think again.
7. Sleeping Is Easier For You
There’s a few reasons why having smaller breasts equal a better night’s sleep. The first is that you can sleep on your chest, or comfortably cuddle your significant other, without crushing your boobs. The other reason is that women with bigger breasts tend to show signs of sagging faster and, as a result, are encouraged to wear bras to bed at night. And there's nothing worse than wearing an underwire with your pajamas.
8. You're Less Of A Target For Sexism
While all women have experienced some form of sexism at some point or another, it turns out that it happens more often to women with bigger breasts. According to a study, men who associate bigger breasts with more attractive women also associate these same women as being weaker. And people say there’s no such thing as patriarchy…
If you have big breasts and love to workout then you know everything from yoga (good luck with those forward bends), rowing (you’ll suffocate yourself in the cleavage), to the treadmill (have fun with the chaffing and constant bouncing) can be a pain. Whereas women with small breasts have less headaches with working out and even less trouble stuffing themselves into a sports bra.
10. They Can Help Fight Breast Cancer
Well, not exactly. Having small breasts doesn’t help fight breast cancer per say, and there’s no correlation between breast size and the chances of getting breast cancer, but according to Cosmo it can improve your chances of detecting it in its early stages. Because smaller breasts have less fatty tissue it makes it easier for doctors to detect lumps the second they appear, rather than only detecting lumps once they’ve grown.
The women of Montreal have all got two things on their minds right now: Freezing cold temperatures and the desire to feel extra special. Solutions to those two dilemmas are by no means obvious, but what if we told you there was a way to actually tackle both at the same time? A way to essentially warm the hearts of women everywhere.
The Weekend to End Women’s Cancer benefiting the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital is the perfect way to show her just how important she is to you this year, while also getting into shape, meeting new people, and having a great time all at once. It's a weekend to remember all those lost to women's cancers as well as celebrate the lives being saved everyday.
1 in 6 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
On average, 14 Canadian women will die from cancer every day.
On average, 67 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in females.
There's an estimated 5,000 deaths caused by cancer a year.
It could be your mother,your sister, your girlfriend, your aunt, your best friend; breast and gynecologic cancers affect all women and the tragic consequences touch each and everyone one of us.
By participating in the 2015 PharmaprixMD Weekend to End Women’s Cancers™, you raise valuable funds for research, prevention, and treatment of this terrible disease. Saving lives has never been sexier, and trust us, the ladies will love you for it.
Getting involved is easy.
When: August 22, 2015 to August 23, 2015
Where: Through the vibrant streets and colourful neighbourhoods of Montreal.
What: Enjoy the full 2-Day, 60km distance with overnight camping and entertainment provided for maximum impact, or try the 1-Day 32km distance.
How: Visit The Weekend To End Women's Cancer website here to sign up!