A couple of years ago I applied to become a PULSE Volunteer for GSK.  After having volunteered locally for various organizations within my own community, I was excited about the prospect of traveling to some unknown location and envisioned an adventure immersed in the developing world.  Then, something changed my life.  I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. So, instead of donating my time to an NGO, I found myself on medical leave to undergo surgery and chemotherapy.  (Not exactly the adventure I had in mind!)  Fast forward 2 years:  My incision has healed, my hair has grown back and I’m feeling quite well.  After reapplying to the PULSE program, I’ve been accepted and matched with the Canadian Cancer Society – can’t think of a more meaningful match for me!  Passport in hand, both excitement and apprehension buzzing through me, I’m preparing for my departure to Toronto (which will be my home for 6 months)!  Writing is not my forte, but I hope you’ll join me on my journey.  Off now to Google the lyrics to “Oh Canada”…


  1. Joan, welcome to Canada. As a PULSE alumni living in Canada, please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can provide you with any help. By the way, the words to the anthem are a cinch to learn; I’m sure you will pick it up quickly 😉 Best of luck on your new adventure.

  2. Congratulations on both your healing and your assignment! Your personal experience will be a valuable asset to your PULSE partner.

  3. You write beautifully because you write from the heart. Thanks for sharing your story. I am so looking forward to more stories from you! And yes..learn those words!! Oh Canada, our home and native land… While you are at it, learn all of those hockey rules…I will quiz you. First rule to learn…icing! Have fun! 🙂

  4. Good luck Joan as you embark on your PULSE assignment – can’t wait to hear more about your exciting and personal journey! 🙂

  5. Your journey so far has been incredibly inspiring for me at least Joan. I’m so pleased we were able to match you to an organisation that has such meaning for you. Keep writing – the world needs to hear your story!

  6. All the best Joan! My Canadian friends and PULSE alumni Debbie Davis and Robyn Widenmeyer will be there for you! Take care and enjoy Toronto…and Montreal and Quebec City if you have a bit of time to make it there!!!!☺️

  7. As my mom has done for 23 years of my life, I am obligated to return the favor of unconditional support and thorough embarrassment by commenting on her blog! Go Mom!! I hope you have an incredible adventure and I look forward to hearing about it soon!!

  8. Oh Joan – You’re such an inspiration! I hope you gain as much from your adventure as I know you’ll give. Oh Canada – You’re lucky to have Joan join you!

  9. Dear Joan,
    I just found this link and read your story about PULSE. What a strong advocate for a program that sounds so important and proactive. A nice read. You are working for a good cause and offer strength to so many who participate. My best wishes as you continue this incredible experience in Canada.

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