A Fresh Chapter

Terri's Story

Terri’s Story

A Fresh Chapter
The Emotional Aftermath of Cancer

In 2009, at the age of 30, a breast cancer diagnosis changed everything for me. In an instant, I was transported from my corporate life as a successful headhunter in the technology industry to a foreign world of chemotherapy and surgeries. I anticipated that treatment would be difficult, but nothing could have prepared me for the emotional aftermath. In 2011, with my final surgery behind me, I found myself grappling with feelings of isolation, depression, survivor guilt, and anger.

I knew I couldn’t stay in the dark place where cancer had deposited me, but I didn’t think that sitting in a traditional support group circle would help me heal my emotional scars or give me the tools to reimagine my future. I wanted to feel useful and empowered again and needed something other than cancer to be the most recent story in my life. It was in my search for inspiration that I signed up for a volunteer trip to Africa.

Reinvention is Possible

For six weeks, I volunteered at an underfunded daycare in the Townships of Cape Town and then traveled to Victoria Falls in Zambia – a place I had only ever dreamed about visiting. These experiences helped me see that struggle is universal and that even if I couldn’t go back to who I was before cancer, reinvention was possible. With my Business Degree (majoring in Entrepreneurship) from Royal Roads University in Canada and the experiences gained from five years of building a network as a professional headhunter, I saw an opportunity to turn my newfound passion into an organization that provides a fresh forum for addressing the emotional and psychological aspects of cancer.

I never could have anticipated how my life would change over the next five years. From a 6-month around the world scouting trip, to a pilot program in New Delhi, India, to living out of a suitcase for the better part of 5 years, A Fresh Chapter has stretched me as a person, encouraged me to take risks, and introduced me to countless generous and talented people who want to make a lasting impact on the world. I have been lucky enough to learn the ins and outs of the non-profit world, make connections with donors and partners who have played a critical role in our growth, and most-importantly, meet volunteers, advisors, and participants who have inspired me with their stories, dedication, and desire to change the world. Together, we are transforming adversity into possibility and I couldn’t ask for more meaningful work.

If you want a window into how the question “Why Not?” inspired my fresh chapter, here’s a talk I had the opportunity to give at Stanford’s Medicine X conference:

The Blog & Where it All Began

Ever since I was a child, I have loved writing. When I was diagnosed with cancer and took a leave of absence from work, it was a reconnection to writing that got me through chemotherapy and surgeries. At first, I thought my new purpose in life would be to write a book and I even wrote Oprah a letter back in 2010 to see if she would help me get it published. That letter sparked a blog, which sparked a nonprofit, which led me to where I am today. To read the post that started it all, visit our blog:  


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