2019 Walk of Hope - Montreal, QC

Thank you for your support!
Thank you for your support!

RAQ's Pack (Rina Aquilino)

This past January I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the most fatal women’s cancer in Canada. My first reactions were disbelief, anger and of course fear. I was angry at my body that I have always taken care of through exercise and healthy eating for betraying me. Of course, I was afraid of dying . Only those of you that have ever been diagnosed with a life threatening disease could understand. For the others , I wish you never have to. People told me I was courageous but I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I had to learn to accept and somehow muster up the courage to fight.

When they say it takes a village, it really does.
I am humbled and will forever be grateful to the medical team that have taken care of me. Dr. Herawaty Sebajang of the CHUM who for months ran every test possible until we got a diagnosis , albeit devastating. Dr. Pasquale Ferraro of the CHUM for whom there really aren’t words to describe all that he has done for me throughout this whole journey. From putting together what we called my “A Team” to fight this and for his limitless support and guidance throughout my diagnosis, surgery and recovery. The bond we forged during our time in Rochester for my surgery is forever unbreakable. Dr. Brigitte Barrette, a pioneer in treating ovarian cancer of the University of Vermont Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic Hospital for her friendship and for helping me to learn to deal with one situation at a time . Her advice of “Go live your life, it’s my job to worry about your disease“ and having her take care of me for future follow up is really reassuring. Finally Dr. Jamie Bakkum-Gamez of the Mayo Clinic Hospital for being an exceptional surgeon and essentially giving me a second chance at life. She dedicates her life to treating and researching gynaecological cancers and I am confident she will soon get the breakthrough she has been working for. Lastly my husband and children for their love and support. For getting me the best care possible and making me promise not to read about this disease before my surgery, that I am not a statistic, that I could fight this! With the efforts of my “A Team“ and God’s grace, I have a positive prognosis. I am truly blessed.

They say every scar tells a story. At first I was afraid to look down at the 12 inch scar that runs down my abdomen and pelvis. Now, I have grown to look at it in a positive light: I see it as my body taking care of me and rebuilding itself. It is a testament of what I have overcome and my survival. I have decided to wear it with pride.

To share one’s story isn’t always easy but one must do so for the people that come after. I have decided to share my story in hopes of raising awareness for this disease that can affect any woman in your life. In fact, ovarian cancer ranks third in cancer deaths among women in Canada, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system...yet there is still no cure for it. There is no reliable screening test for this disease, there is no preventive vaccine , it has high reoccurrence rate and one in two women diagnosed do not live past five years.

I urge you to please donate or better yet join me, to show the women in your life that you care . Do it for your daughter, sister, mother, aunt, friend or wife. Together, we can all make a difference and fight this disease.

“Consider each day a miracle - which indeed it is, when you consider the number of
unexpected things that could happen in each second of our fragile existence.”
(Paolo Coelho)

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