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This International Women’s Day, join us in supporting Rethink’s mission to empower those impacted by breast cancer and inspire women to take charge of their health.

Lending her voice to the cause, breast cancer survivor Melyssa Hollister draws from her own experience navigating a diagnosis amid the global pandemic. As a mother of four, former educator and successful real estate agent, Melyssa didn’t want her story to be in vain. Instead, she’s proven herself a force in patient advocacy who raises awareness and funds for Rethink.

We sat down with Melyssa at our Yorkville Village location to talk about the power of community and the resilient spirit of those facing a cancer diagnosis.  


What was an inspiring moment for you during your experience with breast cancer? 


As a mother of four, I've had several inspiring moments throughout my journey. One particularly powerful moment was when I realized the strength and resilience not just within myself, but within my family as well. Witnessing my children's unwavering support, seeing them adapt to new responsibilities, and feeling their love and encouragement helped me find inspiration even in the most challenging times. 


How did you balance family, career and community, while navigating your diagnosis? 


Balancing everything amid the backdrop of the pandemic presented an unprecedented challenge. Navigating treatment protocols while ensuring the safety and well-being of my family required careful planning and adaptation. Leveraging technology to stay connected with my support network and community, despite physical distancing measures, proved invaluable. While the pandemic added another layer of complexity to an already difficult situation, it also highlighted the importance of resilience, adaptability, and the strength of community.


In the face of adversity, how do you maintain positivity and strength? 


It required intentional effort and self-compassion. I found solace in practicing mindfulness, staying connected with loved ones, and focusing on the present moment. I also allowed myself to feel a range of emotions, acknowledging that it's okay to not always feel strong and positive. Through it all, I held onto hope and gratitude, finding strength in the small victories and moments of joy. 


How has your perspective on life changed since your experience with breast cancer? 


This experience has taught me the importance of cherishing every moment, prioritizing my health and well-being, and embracing vulnerability as a source of strength. I've come to appreciate the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community in overcoming adversity. 


Has this journey shaped your commitment to advocacy? 


I've become passionate about raising awareness, promoting early detection, and advocating for accessible and equitable healthcare for all women. I believe that by sharing my story and amplifying the voices of other survivors, we can drive meaningful change and improve outcomes for women facing similar challenges. 


What message would you like to share for International Women's Day? 


My message to women around the world is one of resilience, solidarity, and empowerment. Let us celebrate the strength of women everywhere, honour the achievements of those who have paved the way, and continue to advocate for gender equality in all aspects of life. Together, we can overcome adversity, break down barriers, and create a more just and equitable world for future generations.