As a traveling chef at amazing resorts, Nadia returned to her hometown, Portland, Oregon in September 2020. She returned for a special someone and her family during the pandemic and while her industry was entirely shut down. These changes provided her an opportunity to reconnect with Portland and reinvent herself as a top-notch caterer.

But, that swiftly changed when Nadia felt a lump and pain in her breast at age 31. She quickly scheduled an urgent care appointment and was told, “it’s probably nothing.” She demanded a mammogram, even at her age. It was followed by an ultrasound and a needle biopsy.

While at work, Nadia received a call that she had stage 2 breast cancer. “It was hard to comprehend the diagnosis,” she said. Her mind was flooded with the memory of her mother being diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, she could understand what her mother must have felt.

Nadia said, “I am not going to claim breast cancer. I get life.” And she did. She made sure to get very well educated on breast cancer, the treatment plan and ways to balance all of it. Her team was incredibly supportive, but it certainly disrupted her entire life. “I had hoped to have the support of my friend and family network to move along the breast cancer journey but that wasn’t so much the case. It has been lonely.”

The treatment plan included chemotherapy, followed by surgery and then radiation. Nadia said, “Come on chemo. Do your thing ….. I am not doing this again.” She had terrible side effects but was adamant that it would not take her over.  Her treatment was finally completed in November 2021. With the pandemic, this treatment plan was longer than usual. It also meant she was not able to work, so her patient navigator completed paperwork for financial assistance through the Treatment Access Program at Pink Lemonade Project. “This assistance provided me such peace of mind,” said, Nadia.

The overall course of treatment made her question subjects like challenges with fertility, sex and overall health in ways she never expected. “Do I freeze my eggs? Why is sex so difficult? Why am I struggling to balance my mind, spirit and body?” She wishes there would be more discussion about these subjects before, during and after treatment.

Nadia is slowly regaining her strength, but she said, “I am tired and still healing. The pain is real”. She had no idea how long and difficult it all would be. But her goal is to creatively refocus her energy for new work but has limitations with lifting and standing for long periods of time. She hopes that will soon change.

Today, she is getting more involved with Pink Lemonade Project and the Zest support group for young survivors. Other programs she hopes to engage are the Pink Link virtual education program and Pink Fit outdoor activities. She very much wants to be trained as a Pink Mentor to support newly diagnosed patients….like she had.

Nadia is finding community and building relationships that will help her develop a “new normal” and to do what she loves…!



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