Lilian's Story

“I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin diffuse large B cell lymphoma in my early 30s. I felt lost and alone. I was the first in my family and among my friends who had cancer. I had no idea how to handle it or who to ask for non-medical advice. I was focused so much on treatment that I had overlooked the post-treatment. I became afraid to plan my life after cancer. I had completed six chemo therapies and 15 radiation treatments just before the holidays in December 2010, and then my cancer took a three-month hiatus before returning in March 2011. For the next five months I was an in-patient for eight high-dose chemo treatments, multiple blood transfusions, and a stem cell transplant. After completing all of these treatments, I was living with side effects from chemo, shingles, and depression. It took me about a year to regain my mental control from depression. I joined a local wellness centre for different types of restorative exercise classes and information sessions. The cancer survivors in the class were typically much older than me, talking about their grandchildren and retirement lives. There was a cancer support group for young females that existed at the time, but it was cancelled after a few sessions due to low participation. And that’s when my oncology nurse practitioner introduced me to Pink Pearl. In November 2013, I attended my first Pink Pearl fall overnight retreat in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was nervous going into it because I knew absolutely no one, but it ended up being the most relaxing and informative weekend. I felt safe to share my issues without judgement. The genuine giving and caring from this close-knit community truly fed my needs. I attended more Pink Pearl programs, such as Family Support Day, where I brought my family and friends to experience adventurous activities like sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, and herbal walks. I also learned that Pink Pearl hosted Local Social events, gathering young women with cancer together for a night of bonding over social activities like ping pong and stand-up comedy. In 2015, I attended to the 9th annual Black & White with a Touch of Pink fundraising event as a program participant. It was an extravaganza! My appreciation toward Pink Pearl’s support grew even stronger. I was overwhelmed by the organizations commitment to creating support programming for young women like me to overcome the social and emotional challenges of cancer. I really wanted to give back to Pink Pearl, so I signed up to volunteer at the 11th annual Black & White with a Touch of Pink in April 2017. I also had the opportunity to thank attendees and express my sincere gratitude for their support. I shared my Pink Pearl experiences and the impact it has had on my life with guests and also with other young women who are at the beginning of their cancer journey. Surprisingly, this volunteer role also allowed me to walk around and enjoy the food stations, specialty cocktails, prize games, silent auction and live entertainment. The evening was indescribable, and it took my Pink Pearl experience to the next level. Thank you, Pink Pearl for changing my outlook to a positive one—cancer with a TOUCH OF PINK.” – Lilian Yip, Program Participant