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Not a cure for cancer, but a personal prescription for facing life


She bursts into the room, challenging the rest of us to keep up with her energy. Every gesture, every word, every anecdote conveys her genuine ‘zest for life’, the self-proclaimed ‘the world is my candy store’ attitude that makes every day brighter... sunnier... and, well...just better.

And when she laughs, it is with her whole

body. She throws her head back and I can- not help but join her, even if the things we are laughing about would normally make me cringe, wince or even cry. She tells me about her diagnosis, her treat-

ment, and about the crazy ride she has been on since she learned firsthand how the word ‘can- cer’ can tear the world apart. And as she talks all I can think about is how good I feel around her and I realize that Dr. Alex Ginty is a truly remarkable individual. It is not just that she’s had cancer; last year,

67,000 new cases were estimated to have been diagnosed in Ontario alone. Nor is it the type of cancer she has faced; 64 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day in Canada. Nor is it the fact that she was diagnosed with two sepa- rate invasive cancers within a week of finding that first suspicious lump, or even the statistics on the cancer ‘gene’ she carries (approximately 5% of breast cancer cases). What is remarkable is the way she has

fought her way through her diagnosis and treat- ment and all of the accompanying emotional and physical side effects, and has still managed, against all odds, to come up trumps.

The tale worth telling Perhaps I seem blasé about her diagnosis,

her treatment, and the stats. But I know how significant they are. Alex was a doctor before

she became the patient, and when you sit down for a one-on-one with her, she doesn’t mince the truth.

In addition to chemo, Alex’s treatment in-

cluded a double mastectomy, reconstruction and axillary dissection surgery to address the cancer in her lymph node. As a post-operative complication she tells me she developed “two orange-sized seromas that were drained with the world's biggest needle—twice!” Extensive physio was required to get her left arm working again (she is quick to point out that it is thanks to Margaret at ClubPhysio, she now has a great tossing arm—for tennis—and no longer swims in circles). Alex is extremely candid about the facts and

openly graphic about her experiences. But, in her case, the story is more about where she is now (and where she inspires others to be), than where she has been. This, for her, is the tale worth telling. And, it is what makes her remarkable. Dr. Alex Ginty has managed to take this

crazy two-year rollercoaster, a journey riddled with pain, fear, anxiety, and hair loss, and turn it into something overwhelmingly positive. Grate- ful for the lessons the past two years have doled out, Alex is even more thankful for the opportu- nity to share those lessons, to reach out, and to inspire others with her unique prescription for life that many have come to appreciate simply as Vitamin ‘G’.

“Get up, put make-up on

and show up for life” Today Alex lives very much in the present

(and consciously draws a line in the sand for those things that need to stay in the past). She resolves to look at each day with appreciation, choosing to be happy and to stay focused on ‘the good’.

This is easier to do now that the chemo and

surgeries are behind her, and she is now ‘cancer free’ (aside from the BRCA gene risk). But even in her darkest days, Alex would force herself to get up and make the bed, believing in facing each day head on and reminding herself to “Get up, put make-up on and show up for life”. She would convince herself to stay upbeat,


writing and reciting lists of ‘things to remember’ and positive thoughts to ruminate in so that she could get through each day, “one day at a time”. These lists became her ‘positive thinking cards’— tangible, portable daily reminders of how to stay optimistic and, later, how to move on from all of this.

women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day in Canada.


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