Marquina Iliev-Piselli is a mother, wife, digital marketer, TEDx speaker, breast cancer survivor, competitive air guitarist, insufferable karaoke singer, and all-around-goofball living in Brooklyn, NY. She is also the author of TOUGH: Women Who Survived Cancer, a collection of 37 essays about women facing various types of cancer. Determined to take her life back after her own devastating diagnosis, Marquina started the Share Triumph community and the Share Triumph Virtual Conference to showcase the small steps that lead us on our path back to joy. I'm honored to have my story included. View the full post here or see excerpt below.
I was a single, 39-year-old freelance copywriter living in Austin, TX, when I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. Underwent a bilateral mastectomy/reconstruction but chemo was unlikely. Until it wasn't. But I got through it--bald and all, exercised on my good days, started picking back up on client work, voiceover work and did a few interviews (all with chemo brain). After treatment, excited but nervous to go out into the world unsupervised by my oncologist, I began to take trips: Belize, Baltic cruise, Alaska, Paris. But none of these were far enough. So about 18 months after I finished treatment, I landed in Tanzania where I spent three weeks helping out in a classroom of 100 students and learning about the country and its culture. I needed to expand my mind and immerse myself in the world that is. Over a decade out, I'm living in Seattle, have a great job working as a copywriter with amazingly talented people, and loving friends and family that I'm eternally grateful for. And after years of writing/editing/rewriting/editing, I've just published a book about my experience, I DON'T WANNA BE PINK: How a single, 39-year-old woman refused to let breast cancer and its fervent culture define her. I guess it took all those years to really sort out how I feel about that time and living with this new box checked on my health history form. I had a lot of help/support along the way and hope that the finished product might help someone coming face-to-face with cancer or any tragedy for that matter, and trying to navigate being a survivor but staying true to themselves.