Sonia Yumiceba was born in Quito, Ecuador, and immigrated first to Costa Rica in 1992 and then to Canada in 2009. She has a degree in Business Administration and has mostly been working as an Executive Assistant.
Her husband, Gordon, is from Alberta, which is the reason they moved up to Canada. Her son, Roberto, is 20 years old and a third year Carleton University student in Public Affairs and Policy Management.
Sonia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, six months after arriving in Canada. This was shocking news for her family. Sonia’s first thoughts were not for herself, but for her son and husband. Together, they struggled through her cancer treatments, while at the same time adapting to a new country. This was particularly difficult for her son, who was a teenager at the time. But, Sonia is a positive, spiritual, optimistic, and courageous person. Despite the brutal side effects of chemotherapy on her body, Sonia’s faith and trust in God, and her conviction that everything happens for a reason, has kept her spirits up, a smile on her face, and enjoying every moment of her life.
Now, as a family, they have grown stronger through this experience. They have learnt that life is too short; not only do you have to live one day at a time, but you also have to enjoy one day at a time. At one point, her son told her he was not happy living in Canada because he was not in his own country and did not have his family and friends around. It is not easy for a parent to know that their child is unhappy. She remembers telling him, “Happiness does not come from the outside, happiness comes from within us; happiness is a decision”. She believes we choose to be sad or happy. It is a matter of our attitude towards adversity. We can see the glass half empty or half full. For Sonia, surviving cancer is like having a second chance; she does not want to spoil it. She wants to take advantage of every moment; and Sonia does. She loves singing in a choir, dancing, playing golf, and volunteering for many worthwhile causes like the mentorship program at the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization, and the Dress for Success program which empowers women to achieve economic independence.
In 2011, while receiving radiation, Sonia attended an aerobics class specifically designed for people living with cancer, at the General Hospital. It was there she met Colleen, and since then they have kept in touch and continue to support one another. In fact, Sonia graciously volunteers to model Colleen's clothing line as well as try on new designs and provide feedback. Sonia finished all her treatments in February 2011. She found a job six months later, and has remained working, mostly as an executive assistant, utilizing her language skills in English, and French which she quickly picked up after moving to Canada, as well as her native Spanish.
To Sonia, the most important things in life are to do your best every day, to see your family happy, to enjoy each moment and be positive, to smile all the time, and to give support to whomever is in need. To be friendly and to believe we can make a difference in another person’s life is decided with our attitude.