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Testimony by Sophie Reis

Entrepreneur, author, speaker
CHUM, 12 Taxol (Herceptin, Perjeta, Neratinib)
2021
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Access to fair and validated information enabling informed personal choices is a right.
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In the fall of 2020, I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer (found incidentally with no symptoms or family history) that would turn my life upside down. My story is full of curiosity and great discoveries, including that of cooling helmets which, in my case, gave me hope and the confidence to agree to do chemotherapy. Action was my salvation as I mention here in this La Presse article. Isabelle, a precious friend, relayed to me an interview introducing me to Keep Your Hair and the cooling cap technique with the company [https://www.penguincoldcaps.ca/](Penguin Cold Caps). Through a combination of circumstances, a mutual friend put me in touch with Sophie Truesdell-Ménard, the founder of our organization who herself used this cooling helmet system at the CHUM in Montreal in 2017. With boundless generosity, she took me under her wing and explained each step to me. What seemed at first glance to be a technique straight out of NASA suddenly seemed accessible and simpler than ever. I will never have enough words to express all my gratitude to Sophie. I knew that now there was a solution to keep your hair despite chemotherapy and if there was a chance that I could keep it, I was going to take it! *“How can we in 2020 transplant faces and send people to the Moon but not be able to preserve the hair of women undergoing chemotherapy?"* I have done a lot of research on the cooling helmet, here in Quebec and elsewhere in the world. Why is no one talking about it? Why don't even oncologists know about it? It is a fundamental right to be able to make an informed choice which is not currently respected in Quebec. 8% of women refuse chemotherapy or decide to choose a treatment proven to be less effective to avoid losing their hair. It's not just a flirtation. The psychological impact is a key factor and must be considered in our overall health. There were only a few of us who used the cooling helmet in Quebec, although the helmet has been used for more than 20 years in Europe. Since July 2020, Christine McWilliam in Ontario has acquired the exclusive rights to distribute cooling helmets in Canada, now allowing women (and men!) to access the helmets throughout the country without passing through the United States. Penguin helmets are also approved by Health Canada. On February 5, 2021, I made the decision that I was going to move forward with chemotherapy with the use of helmets. In remission, I am launching the Gift of Cancer platform in 2021. Mobilizing more than 100 doctors, researchers and specialists, my book A cancer as a gift: learning, understanding and equipping oneself to act was published in February 2023 (Éditions Trécarré) throughout Canada and in September 2023 throughout Europe. The book is also available on all listening platforms around the world in audiobook form where you can hear my voice. Profits from the sale of the book via this link [https://www.amazon.ca/-/fr/Sophie-Reis/dp/2895688435?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1679316948&sr=8-1&linkCode=sl1&tag=bbjetlag-20&linkId=9590c50f909b45e96a5e873a153509da&language=fr_CA&ref_=as_li_ss_tl&_encoding=UTF8&tag=gardetescheve-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=71f874270ba861d1f1c5e2f39da3df77&camp=15121&creative=330641">Un cancer en cadeau](Un cancer en cadeau) will be donated to the Foundation. Cancer is not a gift, neither for you, nor for me, nor for anyone; but throughout this adventure, we meet people (like that of Sophie Truesdell-Ménard and the *Keep Your Hair Foundation!*), and we learn from them which are gifts of the disease. By sharing my story of resilience and action through the book, conferences and corporate training workshops, I hope to inspire patients and those around them to take back their power in their own way so that they can move on to through this ordeal with gentleness and vitality. I also want to pique the curiosity of humans so that they regain their right to question, to do things differently and to dare to look further. Above all, I want to demonstrate that it is possible to transform adversity into opportunity. You will find several interviews in the “media” section of [https://uncancerencadeau.com/](uncancerencadeau.com), [https://sophiereis.com/sophiereis.com](sophiereis.com) and the Keep your hair website including my interview at [https://ici.radio-canada.ca/tele/blogue/1960470/medecine-chimiotherapie-guerison-cheveux-traitements](Tout le monde en parle). I talk at length about my experience and my learnings here in this interview with Joanie Lacroix of *Pastel Fluo*.

Here is a look back at the launch of the book in February 2023 at the CHUM Research Center (CRCHUM) :

You can see my experience in pictures on the [https://www.instagram.com/uncancerencadeau/](Un cancer en cadeau's Instagram account) and also follow me on [https://www.facebook.com/sophiereis/?locale=fr_CA](Facebook). *- Sophie* [https://gardetescheveux-staging.netlify.app/en/sophie-reis/](**See Sophie's profile**)

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