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In 2011, at the age of 33, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through treatment and thought I had beat it; unfortunately, I was rediagnosed in October of 2014 – this time with Stage IV incurable cancer. Since that time, I have had good days and bad days, but I have an amazing support system and my friends and family have helped me more than I could possibly imagine. They have helped me to check off the items on my ‘bucket list’ which includes such things as building a blanket fort with my niece and a weekend canoeing at the cottage. They can’t, however, help me to cross one particular item off my list and that is a visit to see my friend in Korea.
I lived in Korea for five years, teaching English to adults. I loved my experience there and Korea became a second home to me. I love the food, the culture, the hustle and bustle, and most of all, the people. In the first English class I ever taught was a girl named Shin Hye Jung or ‘Kate’. Kate and I became instant friends. We spent hours chatting in coffee shops and showed me to all the touristy places, and most importantly, she helped me to overcome my culture shock. After my first contract finished, Kate came back to Toronto with me so that she could continue her English studies. At that time, the two of us became very close and as roommates, spent a lot of our time together. She spent all the holidays with my family and got to have many truly Canadian experiences; she went tobogganing at Christmas and we even hid eggs for her on Easter. When we returned to Korea, we were still attached at the hip and spent Korean holidays together where I learned about preparing traditional Korean food, which I still love to make.
Kate is one of the most caring, sensitive and genuine people I have ever met and she is like the sister I never had. We have both been through trying times and we have always been able to rely on each other for support.
If there is anyone that I would like to see one more time, it is Kate. I would love to go to Korea and sit for hours in a coffee shop just once more with my friend. I have all the support system I need in Korea, a place to stay, a Korean ‘mom’ who loves to cook for me – the only thing I need to make my dream come true is a flight to get there. I would greatly appreciate any help that would make this trip a reality for me.