Unleashing the inner goddess wellness event for women

Anna Eliopoulos is unleashing her inner goddess. When there’s music, she is dancing; when there’s scenery, she is driving by for a second look. She is smiling; she is laughing; she is living one day at a time.

But that was a little more difficult three years ago.

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I thought it was a death sentence, I thought that was it. But I was wrong. I had so much support from my family and friends and I learned to live in the moment. I had good days and bad days but most of all I saw the importance of balance and continuing to live normally in an extraordinary situation.” says Eliopoulos.

Living a balanced life was her message to over three hundred women who attended the seventh annual – and most successful – Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH) Foundation Women’s Health and Wellness Day at the end of October.

“My goal was to be extremely positive and to share with these women how I coped through this experience,” says Eliopoulos – chair of the event and business owner. “The “Unleash your Inner Goddess” session with Sophie Luxton – sensual dance teacher – was one of the many highlights of the day,” exclaims the mother of three.

The interactive workshop aims to connect women to the power of their sensuality and femininity. According to Eliopoulos, it was very powerful. “There was music; we were all dancing and laughing together. It was really refreshing,” she says.

The HRRH Foundation was thrilled to have Eliopoulos at the helm of this year’s women’s event – an event that provides a variety of wellness seminars and brings together women of all ages for a day of camaraderie, information gathering and fun.

“Our Women’s Health and Wellness Day is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for women everywhere to gain valuable medical knowledge and share experiences with friends and colleagues,” says Debra Bond-Gorr, President And CEO of the HRRH Foundation. “In addition to seminars on breast cancer – this year’s theme – women listened to stories from breast cancer survivors, took part in a live auction and participated in two interactive wellness workshops,” says Bond-Gorr. “We were also fortunate to welcome Libby Znaimer – Canadian journalist and cancer survivor – as our keynote speaker.”

I have survived cancer twice,” said Znaimer. “My advice is to allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel and don’t look too far ahead. Be in the moment,” she noted. “Events like this are good for women to get together and talk, and it’s always wonderful when I get a chance to speak to people who are going through the same thing; to share with them and also learn from them,” she added.

“Humber River’s Women’s Health and Wellness event brings us together in a unique way,” says Eliopoulos. “It encourages women to be proactive in communicating and sharing their experiences. There are still some women out there who come to me for advice and then don’t want to tell anyone else. The more we talk among each other the more we learn from each other and the more we can make positive changes in our own lives.”

Carla Roberts – an operating room nurse at Humber River for the past 30 years – is also a breast cancer survivor and had the chance – for the first time publicly – to share her story at the event. “Five words: ‘you have metastatic breast cancer.’ It was like being suddenly and unexpectedly struck by a bolt of lightning,” explained the mother of one. “I was 41 years-old. Life was wonderful both personally and professionally. I was very happy. Little did I realize how unpredictable and fragile life is, and how quickly and suddenly my life was about to change,” said Roberts.

In an emotional delivery, Roberts not only brought the audience to tears; but also offered a warm message to women currently battling breast cancer. “My prayer to you is for strength and hope. There were tears as I tried to recount my past; however, it has allowed me to continue on the endless journey of life. I have come to believe that ‘to be healed is more important than to be cured.’ There is life after breast cancer.”

Eliopoulos feels the same way. Since being diagnosed in 2006 she’s tried hard to maintain a level of normalcy in her daily routine. “Even the day I was diagnosed, I was going to my child’s concert. I was still a mother and a wife and I kept my family together. That’s what we do as women and we have to be strong and maintain balance,” she says. “I’ve been through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation; I have a more compassionate side and I see life through different eyes.”