Discover more from The Accidental VP by Susan Smythe-Bishop
How a remarkable woman is using her adversity to shine a light on others
It was around this time last summer when I first met Hadas Brajtman through a Thrive PEC meeting hosted at the home of one of Thrive’s biggest champions, Karen Palmer.
I had heard about Hadas in relation to the ever-expanding culinary world here in Prince Edward County (PEC) as she was about to embark on launching a food business with a focus on Israeli food. She was born in Tel Aviv, so knows a thing or two about Israel’s authentic regional food offerings, and I am a huge fan of international cuisine - so naturally I was intrigued.
Moments after meeting her - it quickly became apparent that she was special, this woman was a FORCE. I learned not only about her gastronomic aspirations, but as a mother of two young children - she had many strong opinions about what was needed in the community and GREAT ideas to contribute to the Thrive discussion. I also learned that she founded a Facebook group to unite fellow Jewish residents here in PEC as a communication tool to organize gatherings, or simply to celebrate their own unique heritage and culture. She is a true connector.
I found her to be so impressive and inspiring, that right then and there, I made the decision to do a character profile on her sometime in the future. I essentially opened a file on her on the spot!
Some may recognize Hadas as the mother of the little boy who wanted to celebrate his 4th birthday party at the local Metro grocery store 😁🤣😆. She and the assistant manager of the store made that quirky dream of his come true. If you missed it - you can read about that here ❤️
Life often sends us surprises, like Hadas’ decision to put her own Israeli food business plan on the back burner because she was offered what she considers to be her dream job as Head of Food and Beverage for the very exciting new Base 31 operation. But then a few months later - another surprise would take her down another path – one that she would have never chosen for herself.
She received a diagnosis of breast cancer…stage 2a Triple Negative Breast Cancer to be exact. The great news is that it is curable, the unfortunate part is that she has to go through a rigorous routine of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
A COMMUNITY CALL-TO-ACTION
Upon hearing the news, Jo Barnes, another force of nature who is also a natural community connector and a very close friend of Hadas immediately put out the call to action. By means of a virtual chat lasso, she connected a group of truly incredible women that I feel absolutely honoured to be amongst.
Within a few short minutes, that chat group was literally on fire with ideas, offers and suggestions on what each of us can do in order to help Hadas navigate her new temporary reality. And to top it off - a party is already in-the-works for next year around this time to celebrate the victorious end of her treatments.
As the chat evolved, I thought of something special that I wanted to do for Hadas…
THE SUPERHERO WITHIN
I am fortunate to be part of a very close-knit group of girlfriends - we chat fairly regularly as a group, and we all often speak openly about our insecurities.
For holiday gifts last year, late in 2022, I decided that I would do a caricature of each of them as the superhero that I believe and know they really are. The intention for this was that whenever they started to feel any self-doubt, they could just look to their caricature and be immediately reminded of the true power that lies within. It sounds so corny, I know! But in truth – when you see an image of yourself as a superhero, you can’t help but feel even a little bit more powerful. I can vouch for it because I did an illustration for myself at the same time, and it works!
“You have to be the hero in your own life”
The Mel Robbins Podcast
So, I immediately moved Hadas’ file to the top of the heap and got to work on it. I decided that this was a little something that I could do for her, as throughout her journey, she may feel knocked down – and I thought that it might help to have an occasional reminder handy of just how powerful she really is.
When I first shared this illustration with her, she thanked me. She let me know that the following week, she planned to shave her head so I quipped, “OK – then I’ll do a badass one of you with a shaved head!” So, I did, and then felt more inspired and did one of her in one of her gorgeous headscarfs that she’s been rockin’ lately too :) And to be honest – I think she looks absolutely stunning with her head shaved - it just allows that beaming light of hers to shine even brighter.
My sister Karen is a breast cancer survivor who also caught hers early through self-examination (as did Hadas – so check your boobs!), and I’ve had close friends who have faced this and other cancer-related battles too. Everyone’s approach to how they communicate their diagnosis publicly is very personal and unique to the individual.
In Hadas’ case – she made a decision to document her journey through a new Instagram account, and she also plans to use this newly minted platform to shine light on other women who inspire her on this journey. That is just the type of person that she is – someone who is turning her adversity into a platform that inspires others ❤️
A VERY SPECIAL COMMUNITY:
Maybe it’s that Tim and I don’t have children – so we weren’t involved in our residential community when we lived in Toronto. Or, perhaps it’s because we were so busy with our work and volunteering within the film industry, that by default it became our one and only community.
But I’ve met so many interesting, inspiring, talented and remarkably caring individuals since moving here to Prince Edward County and I’ve never been so moved by how a community can come together in an effort to lift other people’s lives. There are soooo many other examples that I could list here.
To see how this group of women in particular rose as quickly as they did to the aid of one of their friends and fellow community members, and then to see that person, Hadas, reflect her light so brightly back on the community is something else.
Cheers to you, Hadas, as you move forward on your wellness journey. We are all there with you, and I’m already looking forward to that party next year when you’ve kicked this thing to the curb and it’s behind you once and for all 💕
If you would like to follow Hadas on her journey – this is her new Instagram handle: titsup_hadas (this platform won’t allow me to add the “@” to it, but I’ve linked directly to it!)
As an aside - VERY coincidentally (hello, Universe!), this morning as I was out on my walk, I listened to the Mel Robbins Podcast (which I love) and today’s episode actually spoke about superheroes and the power within. It’s an awesome episode and I highly recommend it.
I am a very proud supporter of THRIVE Prince Edward County - a community-led development of a collaborative vision for the future of Prince Edward County. For more information on this initiative, please visit www.thrivepec.ca