Marlie’s Journey Through Cancer

It Takes a Community

A sister, daughter, community volunteer, colleague and friend, Marlie Yoshiki never thought she would add “cancer patient” to that list. But in June 2017, following a trip to Iceland, she began feeling pain in her right breast.

Very shortly after, she would be diagnosed with breast cancer at Trillium Health Partners’ (THP) Michèle S. Darling Women’s Imaging and Assessment Centre. A single, highly driven, independent woman, the next few years would test her, ultimately impacting every aspect of her life.

“When you get a cancer diagnosis you want it to be over immediately, but it’s a long, long journey and I never wanted cancer to define me as a person,” says Marlie.

An interdisciplinary team was assembled for her care at THP, who would become what she would affectionately call her “dream team.” A caregiver for her own mother and other family members, it was an adjustment for Marlie to now rely on others.

Her treatment involved six months of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation, a unilateral mastectomy and finally a complex breast reconstruction procedure.

“My doctors provided me with a lot of hope and encouragement in those early days. Throughout my journey, the entire medical team didn’t just treat the disease, they exemplified the human side of medicine,” says Marlie.

She was consistently struck by the community feel emanating from the halls at THP.

Her personal relationships were also a constant source of strength and hope, reminding Marlie she had people in all corners of the city, including many local businesses, rooting for her.

How did she remain so optimistic? Marlie barely hesitates, “I live my life by this beautiful Maya Angelou quote: try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”

From a family of volunteers with deep roots in the Mississauga community, she has taken on volunteer roles at THP to give back and inspire those going through something similar. Marlie is now part of the Patient and Family Advisory Council for the Oncology Program at THP, and the Oncology Patient Education Committee. She also volunteers at various Foundation events, like the Women with Drive golf tournament that raises critical funds for the Women’s Imaging and Assessment Centre.

Marlie has learned a lot, but perhaps most important is the role hope and happiness play in the journey of healing.

“Never underestimate the power of a smile or the time that someone shares with you,” she says. It was the smiles, conversations and meaningful connections with her health care team, local businesses, friends, family and coworkers that made her realize the world doesn’t stop for any diagnosis, but a network of supportive people can help you move forward.

Inspired by Marlie’s story? Donate today to help support more patients receiving care at our hospital.

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