Toronto Young Professional Blogs Her Way Through Her Breast Cancer Journey

Thirty-four-year-old Toronto behavioral therapist Renee Kaiman was the first of her peer group to receive a breast cancer diagnosis.

Sadly, she won’t be the last.

That’s one of the reasons why Kaiman is documenting her journey with the disease – including a summer filled with chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy – on her blog, My So-Called Mommy Life.

Once entirely a “mommy blog,” the blog now also serves as a source of support for other young women, moms or not. Kaiman’s blog, the product of a self-admitted obsession with everything baby-related, took a slightly different direction after her March 2015 diagnosis.


At first, Kaiman wasn’t sure whether she wanted to share the news on the platform. She didn’t publish her first cancer-related blog until her first day of chemotherapy – over two weeks after she received the official diagnosis, and after a month of investigating the source of her tumour.

“I didn’t want to say anything at the beginning, because what if it turned out to be nothing, then I’m freaking everybody out for no reason?  I thought I could be overreacting,” says Kaiman.

“Once I got the diagnosis, I debated whether I wanted to make an announcement on my blog. The more that I thought about it, I wanted all the information to come from me when it came to my friends. My close family and friends knew my diagnosis, but others didn’t, and I know a lot of them read by blog. I didn’t want it to be like a broken telephone of ‘Renee had cancer;’ I wanted the whole story to come from me and I wanted to be very honest about it from the beginning,” she says.

It was through the blog post that many of her friends and her coworkers found out, and were quick to offer incredible support. This support is what Kaiman calls a definite silver lining in an otherwise challenging situation.


“I am very blessed with great family and great friends. I don’t want to say that I took advantage of our relationships beforehand. But you don’t really see someone’s true colours until they’re in a really shitty situation,” says Kaiman.

Two of her best friends even set up a meal train for her and her family.

“When I was going through chemotherapy, our friends, family, and even acquaintances – people I had met throughout the years but were no means very good friends – signed up and we had food come to our door after every chemo treatment. It was amazing. After my surgery, meals came for the next three weeks. It was the biggest help, because going to a grocery store and cooking would really use up all of my energy,” says Kaiman.

She says her two children – who were one-and-a-half and three-and-a-half when she got diagnosed – have been the best medicine for her.

“While I was going through the whole diagnosis, I definitely did sit in my basement and cry before I knew what it was,” says Kaiman. “But once I got diagnosed, it was like, ‘I’m not going to do that anymore because I have two kids.’ My conscious decision was that I needed to be as active and involved as I was in their life now that I have a diagnosis than I was two weeks before that diagnosis.”

When it comes to her daily life, Kaiman has adopted a mentality inspired by her favourite musical, RENT, of “no day but today.”

“Worry about what you have to do on a given day; don’t worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow, the next day, or three weeks from now. Focus in what you need to get through the day, then deal with tomorrow tomorrow,” says Kaiman, who went out with friends three nights in a row last week, something she would have never done in the past. “If I was going through chemotherapy and stressing about my mastectomy, that’s useless energy.”

Speaking of her mastectomy, the evening beforehand, Kaiman said goodbye to her “ladies” in a pretty amazing way; a poem on her blog.

Though Kaiman remains candid with her journey, she admits that she’s found herself in a few awkward situations with others who don’t know what to say.


“One thing I would say, is that it’s less awkward if you know someone’s going through cancer and you know them, it’s better to approach them and say something about it. I’ve been in some really awkward situations,” says Kaiman. “I’m very open about it and not everyone is, so I think if you know someone who has it and you see them, and they know you know, it’s best just to say “how are you feeling?” or “how are you doing” because that leaves the door open if they want to discuss it or if they don’t want to discuss it. One person was like ‘you look good,’ and I just thought it was really awkward.”

Kaiman considers herself extremely fortunate for the support of her husband and mother. Her mom even stopped working to help out. “I really admire people in this situation who have had to do it on their own,” says Kaiman. “I really don’t know how you do do it on your own.”

Hopefully, women who are alone will turn to sites like Kaiman’s for support.

“If I can help people through it, that’s great,” says Kaiman. “Dr. Google is very mean. And I dealt with a lot of sleepless nights, because you Google stuff before you get diagnosed and everything tells you you’re dying. If you Google ‘young woman with breast cancer,’ it tells you really scary stats.”

To avoid the urge to Google or stress herself out any further, Kaiman chose not to find out her exact diagnosis until she got the pathology report back from her surgery and knew everything was ok. “All I knew until September was that I had breast cancer. I chose not to find out the stage or grade and I actually think that helped a lot because to me, I didn’t need another thing to stress about or Google. I would leave the room and my parents and husband would stay in when the doctor would discuss it,” she says.

As for that pathology report, it showed that they had got the tumour, which had shrunk significantly from the chemo. After radiation, which she just started this week, Kaiman is on the road to recovery – and on a plane to do some exploring.

Check out her inspiring blog for yourself.