A message from Faiza, Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto Member

A message from Faiza, Gilda's Club Greater Toronto Member

I was 27 years old when I was diagnosed with brain cancer after surviving a severe seizure.

Before cancer, I was your typical millennial. I was living my life and sharing all of the most exciting moments on social media. I was finishing up my Human Resources Management degree at York University and preparing myself for a rewarding career, the eventuality of a long-term relationship, and one day starting a family.

But with a cancer diagnosis, all of these hopes and dreams were shattered. My life would never be the same. My future, once so clear and defined, was hard to imagine. When I looked outside myself, to my friends and classmates, all I could see were lives being fully lived. I would scroll through social media notifications of exciting new jobs, gorgeous weddings, and pregnancy announcements. Their futures pulled my own into a cruel focus; treatment could bring cognitive dysfunction and infertility.

I felt isolated in my feelings of fear, anger, and vulnerability. Friends and family, as supportive and amazing as they are, just couldn't fully understand these aches.

I finally found a community of support that was created just for people like me.

But then I found Gilda’s Club. I finally found a community of support that was created just for people like me. The 20s and 30s support group at Gilda’s Club gave me the chance to be surrounded by others who were experiencing many of these same fears and challenges. It was almost like we shared a secret language; one of surgeries, transfusions, chemotherapy, radiation, and the need to find a path to mourn what we'd lost and find meaning in what we have. They helped me find the answers to my questions, gave me the strength to overcome my fears, and even begin living again.

With renewed optimism, I opened myself up to a new future. That is when I met Kallin. He would become my husband. Now we faced cancer together, through a recurrence of my illness shortly after our marriage and even more treatment. This time, I had Kallin and the community I had come to depend on at Gilda’s Club. This time, I felt hopeful and optimistic.
It turns out, I had a good reason for my confidence. For the second time, I overcame cancer.

Now I'm changing what cancer means to me. I became a volunteer at Gilda's Club, now supporting others through their diagnoses and treatments.

At a time when I was focusing on my health, the structure of maintaining a volunteer schedule has helped me get my life back on track. It also gave me the opportunity to give back to the organization that had done so much for me. I wanted to help give other people their futures back, just like Gilda's Club had done for me.

Now, I have even more to be grateful for. My dream of having my own family one day has become a reality. Next month, Kallin and I will be parents to our own baby boy.

There was a time when I could not imagine beyond tomorrow and now I am planning for the future of my family. It is the strength and the community I found at Gilda’s Club that assures me that I can face whatever challenges the future may hold. And right now? The future is looking pretty great.

This future was only possible because of donors like you, whose gifts ensure Gilda’s Club programming exists, so I did not have to face cancer alone. The moment I walked through the red doors of Gilda’s Club I felt at ease and gained strength from members, volunteers and staff who helped me confront my fears, renew my sense of hope and begin living my life again.

I am sharing my story with you today and hope that you will give others like me renewed hope with a donation to support Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto.

There was a time when I could not imagine beyond tomorrow and now I am planning for the future of my family.

Please ensure others like me, whose cancer diagnosis brings fear and uncertainties, don’t have to face it all alone. Today, please choose to make a gift to Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto.

With gratitude,
Faiza Khan Nagelberg
Gilda's Club Greater Toronto Member and Volunteer