Sitting across from me, Martine Turpin appears to be simply glowing with good health. There is a sparkle in her clear gaze and she exudes energy. Her fit frame carries no extra weight.

The Vankleek Hill resident visited The Review one day last week to talk about her journey to health which all came about after a diagnosis of breast cancer on May 10, 2016. She remembers that day.

“It is like getting your wings taken away,” she says simply.

After undergoing minor surgery, her doctor recommended radiation and tamoxifen — the latter medication would have been part of a two-year regimen for cancer prevention, she explained.

But Martine, who had already embarked on her own disease prevention practices, decided at that point, to follow her own path.

“I didn’t believe in taking poison to heal,” says Martine matter-of-factly, but she is quick to say that she is not telling her story to turn people against conventional medicine.

Since her diagnosis, Martine had started her own regimen of supplements and vitamins.

“I was feeling quite good. I never felt ill at all, actually, throughout the whole thing,” Martine recalls. By the time the surgery came around, Martine says the mass in her breast had not grown in the four months since her diagnosis.

Martine says that her path to health, in addition to supplements and vitamins and complementary therapies, also included changing her way of eating, choosing farm-fresh and organic products.

“I moved toward proper nutrition and away from processed foods. Today, even when we think we are eating healthy, we are not. So much of the food that is available to us is packed with sugar and sugar feeds cancer,” Martine says. Sucralose and artificial sugars are no better, she added.

“I started losing weight when I changed my eating habits. At first, it was alarming and I wondered where it would end.”

But it did end. Martine has lost 30 lbs. and she feels good.

At about the same time, she stopped consuming alcohol altogether.

“There is sugar in alcohol,” Martine said.

“I used to drink to celebrate. But now, I celebrate life in different ways.”

But changes to Martine’s physical health are just part of her journey.

“This journey has turned me into a better person. I am healthier and stronger, but I also feel empowered. I accept life and its challenges. I am grounded. This has opened up my spirituality. I am in love with life and with myself,” Martine says unabashedly.

A different focus on life and that there is a greater power are two key points for Martine.

Martine acknowledges that for her, and likely for everyone, a cancer diagnosis … or any diagnosis, would have a profound effect on a person’s psyche.

A big part of her personal renewal was facing her fears.

“Fear is a huge factor when it comes to dealing with cancer,” Martine says. Her three sisters also experienced breast cancer, choosing conventional medicine as part of their treatment process.

“But for me, the chemo and radiation scared me more,” she said.

Martine, who works for herself, has been doing landscape work and garden maintenance for the past nine years. She says she doesn’t do design, but she loves to clean things up and set things right and loves working outdoors.

“My specialty is when someone wants to sell their house and they need curb appeal. I am fast and efficient,” she says with a big smile.

It’s easy to believe her. Going public with her story will likely surprise a lot of people who know her as she has kept her health challenges private up until now.

“I spent a lot of time inside my home, learning about myself,” she said. And so, in addition to her landscape work, she now has a part-time job that is known to be all about socializing: she works as a barmaid at the local Windsor Tavern in Vankleek Hill.

“I thought that the time was right for me to get back out there with people,” she says.

“I am really enjoying working there.”

Martine marvels at the synchronicity of life.

“Once you become aware of it, things just seem to fall in place more and more.”

Even though Martine shared her story with The Review, she wants to do more. She will be offering a conference called, “Soul Survivor: How I Got My Wings Back” on February 11 at the Chakaura Wellness Centre in Hawkesbury.

“I want to help others and hopefully, give people tools that can help them go through life’s psychological and physical challenges,” Martine says.

There is reserved, limited seating for the conference. To register, contact Martine at 613-678-9924.