Rest In Peace Dear Maxine
Strength | Beauty | Determination
These are the words that come to mind when I think of Maxine. Maxine Valiquette passed away peacefully on July 17, 2020 at the tender age of 51. She leaves behind her beloved husband Robert who she once described to me as her “twin flame”. And, she’ll forever be the adoring mom of their twin daughters, Caroline and Élaina. Maxine succumbed to metastatic breast cancer, a disease that takes the lives of far too many women, far too early.
During a monthly self-examination, Maxine found a lump in her breast. That was May 2015. Further tests revealed a second lump in her other breast. Both were aggressive, stage 2/3 breast cancer. While going through a bilateral mastectomy, Maxine discovered the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC). It was through the OICC that I first met Maxine. She joined the Head Start program, a wonderfully supportive program for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. It helps you through that dark and scary and confusing time, after initial diagnosis. A time when you’re waiting…and waiting…on test results…medical appointments…to start treatment. It’s excruciating.
Maxine integrated complementary cancer care at the OICC right alongside her conventional treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, Herceptin (a drug for HER2-positive breast cancer), and radiation. She participated in the first “Forget for a Moment” Makeover in 2016 while she was still undergoing radiation.
Once Maxine was out of conventional medical treatment, she continued on with complementary care to heal her mind, body and spirit. But, alas, her breast cancer metastasized to her liver in early 2018. When she told me the news, she said, “Who knew I still had breasts in my liver?? Yes, humour is one way I’m dealing with this”. Eventually, the cancer spread to her brain.
What initially drew me to Maxine was her comfort and ease with her body. She was content in her own skin. Despite having had a bilateral mastectomy, Maxine didn’t feel the need to have reconstruction surgery. She didn’t feel the need to wear prosthetic breasts either. I think that’s wonderful. It’s not to say, there’s anything wrong with having reconstruction surgery or wearing prostheses. It’s a very personal choice. There’s no right or wrong. It’s doing what feels right for you.
That was the beauty of Maxine. She was okay being flat chested. She was “living flat” and it felt right for her. It’s who she was. In this world of impossible beauty standards, how uplifting and encouraging for all of us.
Maxine was a beautiful soul inside and out. She was the inspiration for the Maxine reversible pull-on tank top. It’s named in her honour. She was an amazing photoshoot and runway model. A role model in all ways possible. I think you’ll agree she exudes strength and beauty.
In one of her last emails to me, she said, “I got to Kayak on the ocean under a Harvest Moon and perfectly clear night skies!! Check off bucket list.”
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Maxine strongly believed in integrative cancer care. Care that treats the “person” living with the disease, not just the disease. The OICC provided her with that much-needed care. In celebration of Maxine’s life, I encourage you to donate, if you can during these difficult times, to the OICC to ensure people like Maxine continue to receive the care they need to live their lives to the fullest under extraordinary circumstances.
Rest In Peace Dear Maxine
Until next time,
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