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Tania Sallinen’s Story: Celebrating Life After Ovarian Cancer

May 1, 2024

Tania Sallinen Family Photo

Like most moms, Tania Sallinen has a lot of feelings about her oldest child Kyle graduating from high school in June. But her biggest emotion is gratitude — “that I will be there to celebrate with him, to be in his photos and to watch him walk across that stage,” she says.

Almost a year prior to her son donning a cap and gown, Tania was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. It was while scorekeeping at Kyle’s baseball tournament on the May long weekend in 2023 that she first noticed the abdominal pain but she assumed it was kidney stones.

It progressed and by June she was having troubling performing her job as an educational assistant with the Richmond School District. “I was hunched over and had to hold on to the wall to walk. I knew there was something really wrong.”

By July, Tania had been assigned an oncologist. “From the start, Dr. Theresa Chan made us feel informed, comfortable and at ease that we were in good hands with her and BC Cancer,” she says.

But Tania admits, “I did fall down the Google hole. I quickly learned not to do that because those numbers are not good … outcomes are not good,” she says of the statistics that of the 300 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in B.C., seven out of ten will not live past five years.

After six rounds of chemotherapy and a full hysterectomy and tumour removal surgery, Tania was put on a treatment plan of oral chemotherapy pills.

When her 47th birthday rolled around in December she decided to do something different.

“Friends and family always bring cards and flowers. I said, ‘You know what? I don’t need this. So I asked everyone, in lieu of any birthday stuff, to donate to the BC Cancer Foundation.”

That small gesture raised more than $1,000. Tania is looking at every milestone with fresh eyes now.

“In July, my husband and I will celebrate our 20-year wedding anniversary and we plan to renew our vows,” she says.

They have a lot to celebrate — on Jan. 11 Tania was told she’s in remission. “BC Cancer has given us so much hope that there is life after cancer. I look forward to creating future memories.”

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