Montreal Breast Cancer Survivor Turns Her Story Into A Movement
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?
Which led her to the birth of her blog, Nalie.ca.
“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