#YWBC Profile: Sylvie

Name: Sylvie

Age: 36

Occupation: yoga & dance instructor, nutritionist, personal trainer, actor and also a mom!

Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 31

Breast cancer type: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Er+, PR+, HER2+, BRCA2

Breast cancer stage: stage 3b

Treatment: double mastectomy, chemotherapy (FEC-D), radiation, tamoxifen, lymphedema management (massage, compression garments)

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer I studied professional ballet as a teenager. One day, an acting & modeling scout came to watch my ballet class and I was chosen to be in my very first tv commercial! This is when the acting bug really caught me.

What’s your go-to pick-me-up song? Flo-Rida ‘Good Feeling’!!!

How did you discover your breast cancer? I discovered a lump in my right breast when I was taking a shower one day. Cancer was really the furthest thing from my mind!

What went through your head when you received your diagnosis? A number of things flashed before my eyes. I remember feeling so defeated, and as though my body had betrayed me. I felt like what I knew about health and wellness was clearly not enough. As a single mom, I started to worry about my daughter (she was just about to turn 5), and whether I would get to see her grow up. Where would we live during treatments, would we have to move? Would I be able to work? As a freelance artist and health & wellness professional, would I have access to any kind of unemployment benefits or disability compensation. The world I knew was crumbling.

What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer? I would say that the strangest things to hear were diet tips and home remedies. All of the advice I received was well-intended of course.  But the sentiment was as though I could somehow cure myself of cancer by adding this or eliminating that. It was frustrating, especially since I was already knowledgeable in nutrition and wellness!

Who or what is/was your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer? Definitely my daughter, who was still so little at the time. She is truly my reason for being, and made each day matter even more.

What is/was the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer? Having totally different priorities suddenly than other young women my age. I was no longer concerned with my career or with the next girls night out. I was so focused on survival, regaining my health and making sure I would be strong enough to raise my daughter through the entire journey.

What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer? I learned that even though my physical body and my appearance were changing, that my heart and soul remained unchanged. No matter what happened to my physical self, my inner-self was untouched and even became a source of strength I didn’t understand as well before cancer. For me, the journey through cancer was quite a spiritual one, and one that made me recognize the beauty, light and strength that lies at the core of each and every one of us.

In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer? Don’t let anybody take your power away by telling you how to feel, or how to act, what to read, or what to do. You are stronger and wiser than you know!


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