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30-year-old survivor's philosophy for living your best life beyond cancer

Comm Studies grad Nalie Agustin thrives despite Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer
May 16, 2019
By Ursula Leonowicz

Agustin’s graduation photo Grad portrait of author, speaker and wellness advocate Nalie Agustin, BA 12.

Author, speaker and wellness advocate Nalie Agustin, BA (communications) 12, has over 60,000 followers on Instagram, 20,000 subscribers on YouTube and a blog that she started in 2013, shortly after graduating from Concordia.

She also has Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, an incurable disease — which, despite the odds, she’s been both thriving with and searching for the tools to cure, from within.

“It’s a matter of really believing that no matter what the statistics say, you as an individual are powerful and have everything it takes on this earth to overcome illness, as well as beat the odds,” says Agustin. “I believe that our emotions have a direct effect on our body, so it’s important to find a tribe that supports you."

In addition to her boyfriend, friends and family, Agustin’s tribe includes everyone who has been following her journey since she first started posting on her blog, shortly after finding a lump in her breast at age 24.

Agustin has shared everything — from the struggles of dealing with the chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiation and reconstructive surgery she underwent initially in 2013, to having to relive the experience all over again in 2017, when the cancer moved to her lungs — on her blog and in her first book. Chemo Secrets: Tips, Tricks and Real Life Experiences from a Young Breast Cancer Survivor is a 50-page guide to help young women go through chemotherapy like a boss.

“It’s written in our language and it isn’t scary,” says Agustin. She wrote the guide to help her fellow thrivers navigate issues like how to deal with your new sex life, fake your eyelashes and tie a mean turban as well as what to expect, bring and eat while undergoing chemotherapy.

Agustin’s graduation photo Nalie Agustin, author of Chemo Secrets: Tips, Tricks and Real Life Experiences from a Young Breast Cancer Survivor

“Now I’m writing The Thriver’s Guide and it’s about how to heal and live your best life beyond cancer.”

Co-written with fellow thriver and metastatic breast cancer survivor Stephanie Seban to share everything they’ve learned on their quest to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives through and beyond cancer, the book is another step in Agustin’s journey that started, strangely enough, at Concordia.

“Trust the universe, they say. It’s funny that everything I’m doing today, whether it’s the book, blog, videos or speaking engagements, I feel like my degree was exactly what I needed to pursue this career that didn’t even exist back then,” says Agustin.

“Creating my own platform to reach out to women my age who have this really rare diagnosis, in my own style and way, is exactly what Concordia prepped me for.”

Much of Agustin’s time in university was spent producing video projects for her communications classes and rehearsing with the Spirit Team, the Concordia Stingers’ cheer squad, while commuting back and forth from Chateauguay, Que. She spent her last semester abroad on an exchange program at Keele University in Staffordshire, England.

“Loyola Campus was my hub and I was very active and into working out, so being on the team allowed me to have a free gym pass, bag, varsity uniform and everything. I made some really close friends in the Spirit squad and it was a lot of fun,” she says with a laugh.

“What Concordia really taught me was to be willing to explore and come up with my own ideas. In the Department of Communication Studies, they never gave us a specific task: they would just set a theme and give us a lot of freedom. I gained a lot of independence and creativity at Concordia, which you don’t find that often at school.”

These days, Agustin shares her time between her book, social media platforms, public speaking (including Ted Talks), social media marketing and being a brand ambassador — and continuing hormonal treatment and prioritizing her health via therapies like acupuncture, reiki and other mindful practices.

“I’m doing very well for someone with a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, thank goodness,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot about the mind, body and spirit along the way, and I believe it is my purpose to continue to share.”

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