I always strongly believed that life goes by in the blink of an eye, one never knows what the future holds, appreciate life and live the moment.
Born and raised in India, my parents were my biggest role models growing up. One of the strongest women I know, my mom, always taught me to face any situation in life with my head held high and make the right choices no matter how hard. My dad, the hardest working person I have known always believed and showed us that there are no shortcuts to success but only hard work. My complete opposite, the most caring and loving human being I am lucky to have shared the womb with, my twin brother who shows me to live and laugh through the toughest times in life.
Majored in Psychology and English Literature. Independent and strong willed I began my working career in areas of media, advertising and human resources and volunteered and worked with street kids & orphanages before moving to Canada in 2003.
An active member of the community, mentored New Canadians and have been on the Board of Directors with Extend-A-Family, Waterloo Region. A certified yoga instructor and Indian Classical Dancer, I taught Yoga and Bollywood Dance to children and adults. An active wife and mother, I juggle parenthood with a full-time job where I work for a global visual, audio and collaboration solutions company in Kitchener.
I enjoy traveling, reading, socializing and stayed fit and had a healthy lifestyle. I hoped to kick start 2017 with new dreams and plans, but life had other plans for me.
Early 2017, I was diagnosed with an Intradural Intramedullary Schwannoma Tumor (Nerve based tumor) in my spinal cord in my cervical spine C4 – C6.
The type of tumor was rare, with fewer than 70 known cases world-wide over the last 85 years. Not removing it would have meant certain paralysis from the neck down. Surgery didn’t guarantee success either. With only a 25% chance to make it thru, being unable to walk, talk, or breathe on my own were distinct possibilities. To begin with Spinal cord tumors of any kind are extremely rare, even healthy people are not exempt from surprises. I had so many questions for which I could not find answers to and as a result I decided to share my experiences.
I underwent surgery to remove the tumor in my spinal cord on September 27, 2017. After 6 long hours of surgery, 8 days at St Michael’s Hospital, I was moved to an in-patient neuro rehab in Toronto. I had Partial Paralysis also known as Palsy. I had to relearn how to walk, climb stairs and use my hands again, the things we take for granted. With intense pain and hallucinations, I gave it my all to reconnect back with my body. I started taking those small steps towards my recovery and after a month and a half, I requested that I move back home to Waterloo where being home with my family would help me recover sooner. I continued my therapy at the neuro rehab in Waterloo for another 8 months. I have sensory nerves damaged from the surgery in my left arm, neck , back and head and deal with neuropathic pain on a daily basis. I feel electric shocks in my body daily, however there is nothing I would complain about as I feel very blessed and thankful for everything I am still able to do today.
After 9 long months in the neuro rehab, I decided that its time to move on with life. I have accepted the new “Me”. I know I can never be the same again, I can never do a lot of things I planned to do or had on my bucket list, but this journey has taught me so much more. I always remind myself of what I have and can do instead of what I don’t have and cannot do. I have a life, family, friends and so many things that I am grateful and thankful for. Through my experiences, I continue to learn and want to share my journey with you, with the hope to help you get the answers you are looking for and make a difference.
Community, Collaborations, Communication and Connections brought about “You Me and Chai, a conversation” in April 2018 where people from different walks of life and backgrounds met and talked on various topics inspiring each other over a cup of chai. In May 2019, I began my very own talk show, In Conversation with Rashmi, LIVE in Studio on CKMS102.7FM, Radio Waterloo (www.radiowaterloo.ca). I sit down with my guests from this community. They come from different walks of life, cultures and backgrounds. They will make you laugh; they will make you cry; they will encourage, share their highs and lows, failures and success, motivate and move you with their story. Some you may have heard of and some maybe not at all, but they have some incredible and powerful stories to tell. We are all storytellers in our day to day lives, we just don’t call ourselves that.
My family are my biggest cheerleaders. My positive attitude and approach to life defines me. I like to focus on good things and I know there is nothing more powerful than to BELIEVE you can beat it, the DETERMINATION to never give up and to THRIVE for life. I aspire to be better every day and inspire those around me.