By Sonia Hazan

It was mid-March 2020…when life as we knew it, turned topsy-turvy!

My first encounter with Aïdée was during the course of a support group entitled “The Art of Coping”. She struck me as a very astute, intuitive and grounded young woman.  This meeting inspired me to learn more about her and her positive attitude.

Exactly one year ago, she was struggling with fibromyalgia. When her doctor enumerated all the different types of medication she would need to take to cope with it, Aïdee decided to go her own route.  With the help of a Peruvian nutritionist, she totally immersed herself in a different way of life.  For the first month, after three days of detox, she changed her diet (a mix of raw foods, no sugar, etc.), started to exercise and adopted a positive attitude. This new regimen took away the pain, gave her more energy, and made her feel good!

BUT, as life is filled with”buts”…she developed a pain in one of her breasts.  Two surgeries later, she is undergoing chemo sessions during the pandemic at La Cité-de-la-santé à Laval.

Cite de la sante de Laval, to  be followed by radiotherapy at the Jewish General Hospital.   Hope & Cope entered her life on her first day at the JGH when she received an information kit detailing the services we offer.  Among all the possibilities we offer on line, she chose to start with the Art of Coping workshop that I facilitate in French every second week.

This workshop gives an overview of the different tools that are so helpful to participants during their journey, be it mindfulness, ways of thinking, reframing, relaxation, imagery, and many others…To quote Aïdée, “These tools were very helpful for the transition.” Here she is referring to the transition from looking at what we expect to live through to what the reality actually is.

She’s learning how to embrace this reality and especially how to transform the new vocabulary of cancer, chemo and pain into helpful words. For example, fear becomes opportunity, chemo turns into cleaning.

Aïdée starts her day with gratitude, then continues with affirmation, talking to the heart, where she visualizes her white blood cells combating the cancer cells and her healthy cells regenerating. She then completes a round of exercises prescribed by our very own Anouline Sintharaphone, Coordinator of Hope & Cope’s Cancer Exercise and Rehabilitation Program. Then she’s ready to be with her family. She definitely embraces meditation and the best that life can offer.

When I asked her if a special event stood out during this journey, she admitted that when she switched to gratitude, she felt that all the knowledge and support she has received, including Hope & Cope’s services, has enabled her to discover her inner strength.

I feel very privileged to know her and to be able to say that Hope & Cope was able to guide her during this difficult time in her life.