When I was 15 years old, my mother was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. Her story, like so many others, was not unique. She had symptoms that presented in various ways that no one could diagnose until the cancer reached a later stage. She underwent an initial surgery and several cycles of chemotherapy, but ultimately lost her life three and a half years later, leaving behind a husband and three children.
t Over the past five years of mourning and reflection, I have been able to slowly digest this irreplaceable loss. What I’ve learned is that there is no road map to mourning; there are no rules or guidelines. Wherever you are in the process at any given time is where you are supposed to be; it cannot be rushed or managed. For me, as time passed, a beautiful evolution took place. The anger and deep pain eating away at me was slowly replaced by a peaceful feeling of a wonderful memory of 19 years with the most incredible person.
t It wasn’t just the passage of time that allowed me to get to this better place in my life. I know in my heart it was the incredible impact my mother had on me. The importance of focusing on the positive and playing the best possible hand irrespective of the cards you’re dealt was very much a part of the way she chose to live her life and something she instilled in each of her children. She was able to embrace her illness and death with an incredible ability to stay in the moment and to give each stage of life both good and bad the integrity and respect that was needed to take away the positive regardless of the outcome.
t It’s with this outlook and the important values my mother instilled in me that a huge part of my healing process has been focusing on FCancer and helping others. Playing a role in bringing people together and witnessing the love and support that’s created when we collectively unite in this fight has been extremely therapeutic. Creating FCancer as an outlet to generate positive change has given me something worthwhile to focus on. It was clear that the name perfectly embodied the feeling that was shared by so many people who had suffered a loss to this horrible disease.
t I threw my first FCancer event 10 months after my mother passed away. What started out as a 350 person party in Montreal tripled in size the following year and has since grown into a yearly 8-10 event North American tour. I wanted to unite my generation and give young adults, like myself, an affordable and carefree avenue where they could get involved and feel a sense of ownership in the money raised. Very recently myself and Yael Cohen Braun decided to join forces and bring our individual same-name organizations together with the desire to create greater change and impact in the cancer space.
t At first I was somewhat skeptical, but after meeting and spending time with Yael and the rest of the team, I felt an instant connection and had tremendous comfort in knowing that the timing was right and this was all meant to be. I recognize how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to work alongside her and some incredibly bright and capable women. Whether it’s through our incredible online community or on-the-ground programs and events, knowing that we are making a difference and providing people with an outlet during some of the most difficult times in their life, has been extremely comforting. I believe it’s during your hardest moments when you need people the most. Open yourself up and never be afraid to share your struggles with others. I’ve learned that people will almost always react with kindness and love when you let them in and that authentic reaction is what we work to achieve everyday at FCancer.
t Julie Greenbaum is the Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of FCancer, a movement dedicated to the prevention and early detection of cancer that creates a raw and authentic space by harnessing the cumulative experience of their community, Generation Connected.