Localife Toronto

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Alex Mandarino (He/Him)

Hello to all the YACCers out there! I just moved into the downtown Toronto core, and can’t wait to represent from the 416!

My name is Alex; I’m 26 years old and am a cancer thriver following my diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia back in 2014. Believe it or not, fellow Localife Toronto leader Kayla and I were diagnosed on the EXACT SAME DAY — imagine that! I went through two and a half years of treatment, and completed my Honours Bachelor of Commerce from McMaster University through the latter half of my cancer journey. Hosting my degree is one of my proudest moments to this day.

I attended my first YACC event in January 2017, watching the Big Cancer Hook-up from Fox and the Fiddle on John St. in Toronto. I was immediately hooked, and attended the Survivor Conference in St. John’s that spring — and every one since. The group of people and stories I’ve heard have changed me for the better, and I thank my lucky stars to have connected with the community. I’ve expanded my role at YACC to become a YACCtivist, active social committee member, and now a Localife leader!

YACC has opened my eyes to a group of people who get it. I have never felt more comfortable in a community setting, and although it’s the cohort that no one asked to be in, I’m happy to be considered a misfit with all of you incredible folks! I love sports and reading, am attempting to be more mindful through mediation and journaling, and am actively try and put a smile on every face that I pass. I’m an open book, and hope to connect with those of you throughout the GTA from here on out.

Kayla (She/Hers)

My name is Kayla; I am 26 years young and I am a 2x blood cancer thriver. I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2014 at the age of 21. In 2015, after a year of treatment, I relapsed at age 22 with Grey Zone Lymphoma, a type of rare blood cancer. During my two years of active treatment, I was attending university full-time and graduated with the rest of my class in 2016. I don’t even know how I did it but I did and here we are!

I joined the YACC community back in 2017 at Retreat Yourself BC where I met a group of amazing humans who changed my life and helped me start on my own path to recovery. Since then I have been involved in multiple Survivor Conferences and retreats as a peer supporter and now as one of your new Localife leaders!

YACC taught me that it’s okay to not be okay and introduced me to a community I didn’t know I needed, but am so grateful to be a part of. As a survivor, I work towards living a holistic lifestyle, including investing in healing myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I hope to share some of my energy with all of you as we laugh and make memories together in the next year to come. If you ever need someone to talk to, someone to listen, or someone to tell you a funny story, feel free to always reach out to me, I’ve got your back!

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