Sylvie Williams

Freelance social worker and mom of a child with cancer

« I was surprised to be approached to join the Audacieuses. Photo shoots and designer clothes are not really my thing. Although I tend to gravitate behind the scenes, I said yes because I sincerely believe in the work that Leucan does. »

As a freelance social worker, Sylvie Williams is used to supporting people as they cope with all kinds of afflictions. When her son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in October 2006, she accepted the help Leucan offered. With its support and services, the Association made the hardship easier for her family. Authentic, generous, and empathetic, Sylvie agreed to join the Audacieuses to give back to the cause.

Sylvie Williams has a special bond with Leucan. Her son was only five years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. Leucan came into her family’s turmoil from the start. “I can’t think of one family in Quebec who longs to become member of Leucan but when cancer strikes, families are so grateful for its existence.”

After the diagnosis and treatments, hopefully comes a remission. But things did not go that way for Sylvie’s family. “We were told that my son’s cancer had recurred. My beautiful little boy passed away at the young age of seven.” Losing a child is devastating, like the world turning upside down.

Stepping out of one’s Comfort Zone

“I was surprised to be approached to join the Audacieuses. Photo shoots and designer clothes are not really my thing. Although I tend to gravitate behind the scenes, I said yes because I sincerely believe in the work that Leucan does.”

So, getting involved in the organization was only natural for this dedicated mother. Having taken on the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge in the past, this self-assured woman knows what it takes to go forward and do what you must when you care about something. “This is not my first Challenge. The first time I took on the Challenge, I had an interview scheduled a few days later. The interviewer was a former colleague and good friend, and she recalls the moment very well. She remembers me coming in with my shaved head, completely confident.”

Now, as part of the Audacieuses, Sylvie hopes that her story will inspire people and that she will have the opportunity for heart-to-heart exchanges with other moms. “While I don’t necessarily see myself as influential, I believe that as a Leucan mom, I can bring a lot to others. Over the years, I realized that simply sharing my story can have a positive impact on people.”

The Privilege of Growing Old

We are often quick to judge the physical exterior. Sylvie laments the crushing weight appearance can have over everything else. “Physical appearance takes up too much space everywhere, all the time. We place too much emphasis on it. A shaved head will not prevent me from being self-confident, from staying true to who I am, and from simply going about my everyday life.”

Grey hair, wrinkles, and all those little imperfections we focus on can be obstacles to simply enjoying the here and now. “I’m privileged to still be here. Grey hair, wrinkles—who cares? They are a part of me. Of course, my body does not look like it did when I was 20. That’s life. I accept my body as it is because it is thanks to it that I can still enjoy my life.”

Accepting herself and enjoying life to the full in loving memory of her son and all those people who left us too early—that’s also the message Sylvie wants to convey through joining the Audacieuses. Be self-assured because you are still here to do so. “My little guy, he only wanted to grow up but he didn’t have that chance. I have to seize it for him while I’m still alive.”

A Lover of Life

Leucan’s support was a true blessing for Sylvie and her family. To be heard, understood, and supported throughout this devastating process makes all the difference. “Leucan became a part of our lives from the day of diagnosis. We will never forget all the activities available during our son’s treatments, including our first time at the Summer Camp. It gave us a chance to press pause on illness. Leucan continued to be there during our bereavement. It’s a privilege to be part of that extended family. Those kinds of services are not really available anywhere else, yet they play such a crucial part in the process.”

Sharing with people who have been through a similar ordeal helps to heal some wounds, especially during the bereavement process. “We’re still in contact with bereaved Leucan families. We don’t talk every day but we stay in touch and it feels really good.”

Hoping to give families a representation of their own difficult experience, Sylvie is also seizing the opportunity to give back for all that she received herself. A profound lover of life, this mom hopes that joining the Audacieuses will be yet another way to allow life to triumph over death: “I have always cherished life. Yes, I went through a really rough period after my son’s death but still, life found a way to get back to the surface, to remind me of how much I love it. As long as I live, I will continue to love it deeply. It’s something that really defines me.”