Carolyn's Story:

It would seem that one of the longest relationships I've had in my life has been with cancer.

I underwent my last surgery in 2011, removing a cancerous tumor embedded in scar tissue formed after my left breast was cut off 20 years ago.

Five years after my first fight, the cancer reoccurred - 19 lymph nodes were also removed, and half tested positive for cancer. I dragged herself into work daily while undergoing six months of aggressive chemotherapy and potent side effects, including hair loss, nausea and memory loss. 

At the same time I was also struggling through a broken marriage, single parenting two children while running a business that thrives on physical perfection and beauty. Life was far from perfect and I was feeling anything but beautiful.

I was put on tamoxifen for five years. Then in 2000, another cancerous lump on my left side was removed. 

The diagnosis is always dreadful, distressing, leveling - it's like a death sentence. I couldn't believe this could be happening again. I felt like I was in a movie floating above myself, watching it; I felt lost, like in a tunnel that was spinning out of control. 

The fear that you live with when you’re diagnosed with cancer never totally goes away.

I admit I did lose hope with this fourth re-occurrence especially when three days after surgery  I developed a 104 degree temperature, pneumonia, a Staph infection and suffered a collapsed lung.

I really thought I was going to die. I couldn't believe this was happening. But again, gaining strength from my spirituality helped me understand that I am a fighter.

Ten days in the hospital gave me lots of time to ponder life and 25 years running a company in the highly competitive modelling and talent industry. I resolved to live to see my grandchildren grow up, go to their dance recitals and enjoy being a grandma.

I believe that this insidious intruder is stress related and it so easy to get caught up in the moment and not take time for ourselves. I believe my cancer has kept coming back because once I recovered, I just kept going back to being a workaholic.

I have scaled back on work as president of Carolyn's Model & Talent Agency, handing over major responsibilities to my two daughters, and am  (continued at right...)

 

concentrating on boosting down time and grandma time with Melody, 1, and Laila, 3. 

Cancer can certainly turn everything upside down but it also wakes us up to know what is most important to us - family and taking the time to see things in a different light and appreciate everything we have today," says the effervescent survivor, who promotes living a healthy life and inspiring others.

I admit that no matter how positive and strong you are, you have bad moments when you cry and feel sorry for yourself. Then the pity party is over and you go on - you have to, or it will destroy you, physically and emotionally.  

I have to say to anybody going through cancer, it is not the end of the world. It can be beaten. I am the example.  I really believe, the mind has something to do with it.Today is the best day in my life because I am alive to experience and enjoy every moment. Too many of us get distracted from what is really important.

Take time to enjoy all the moments good or bad, as there is a lesson in everything that comes across our path... I believe my life's purpose is to inspire people to be "caring, loving and considerate and be strong and enjoy every day, and take the time to really see things" through her company's We Care Philosophy and being a positive role model.

I am not sorry it happened to me, it has made me a better person. Life is beautiful!

Carolyn Nikkanen is a businesswoman who owns a string of enterprises such as Carolyn’s Model and Talent Agency Ltd,. Carolyn’s Kidz and Studio Talent Mgt. She is the spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society and volunteers for Look Good, Feel Better, an organization that teaches women the art of make-up and grooming while being diagnosed with cancer.

Find out more about Carolyn on her website or like/follow her on  Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIN

Next month (Oct) is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

 

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