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Silver linings: the story of cancer, CanPrev and second chances

Silver linings: the story of cancer, CanPrev and second chances

CanPrev is known for its quality line of comprehensive natural health products, but what many people don’t know is how and why CanPrev started.

It was started by a 19-year-old business administration student at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. She discovered a hard, pea-sized lump just under the surface of her left breast.

Tanya thought nothing of it until an ultrasound revealed a nodule about the size of a dime. Several doctors assured her that she was too young for it to be something as serious as cancer, so Tanya promptly and conveniently forgot about it.

The following spring, the lump had become so painful that Tanya insisted upon its removal. A few days after the surgery she drove myself to the hospital to have the stitches removed. That’s when her surgeon regretfully told her that they didn’t get the entire tumour and another surgery was necessary to remove more of the breast.

Tumour? This was the first time the doctor had even uttered the word.

Tanya clearly recall the river of tears that streamed down her cheeks on what seemed like an endless drive home.

Her father was the first to receive the news that his 21-year-old-daughter had breast cancer. She asked him to speak with her surgeon; she still hadn’t grasped the reality of what was really going on.

She was dumbfounded that nobody had the decency to tell her the truth about her condition.

Tanya began to realize that listening to her body and taking ownership of her health was crucial.

A second surgery removed the rest of the tumour, more breast tissue and all 13 of her lymph nodes on that side of her body. The row of stitches on the left side of her body was so tight that she couldn’t lift her arm. The procedure was considered successful, but it left her feeling like she'd been scraped clean.

Tanya's oncology team formulated a recovery plan comprising chemotherapy, radiation and a pipeline of drugs. She was concerned about the one-size-fits-all approach, especially since there was no metastasis to the armpit nodes.

Thus began my research.

Tanya contacted the Canadian Cancer Society, and she was connected with survivors who were more than willing to talk about their experiences. The more she learned about the treatments and their side effects, the more insistent my inner voice became: chemotherapy wasn’t the way to go.

She stunned her doctors with her decision. They thought that she should take advantage of every option she had to reduce future risk. The more they pushed, the more she resolved to take ownership of my health.

She was making a well-informed personal decision, and nobody would change her mind.


In place of chemotherapy, she decided to accept the recommended 25 rounds of radiation. Her decision was predicated upon the fact that she didn’t want to risk my general and reproductive health with chemo.she was unmarried at the time, but  she knew I wanted to have children someday.

Radiation was brutal and she felt the effects for a full year afterward, but she was grateful for every hour of life. Five years passed. She was considered cured.

In 1996, Tanya met Franco Salituro. It was one of those classic stories where they met, exchanged a few words, and immediately felt a connection. She was drawn to him from day one; intuitively she knew Franco and she would one day make a great entrepreneurial team. Two years later, they  were married.

They welcomed a son in 2000, and theirr daughter followed in 2002. They were blessed with our small family and the plans they were dreaming up for the future. They were happy. Healthy.

Or so Tanya thought.

In 2003, familiar painful twinges in her left breast stopped her in my tracks. She was devastated because in her heart she knew her cancer had returned. A mammogram confirmed what she'd already suspected.

Tanya's surgeon speculated that after having two babies back-to-back, elevated estrogen levels played a role in the recurrence. She opted for a third lumpectomy and, once again, surgery was thought to be successful.

But within a year, the nightmare pains returned and it was almost too much to bear.

Not to worry, there’s a lot of scar tissue and that’s likely causing the pain,  she was told. She couldn’t get another MRI since the mammogram came back negative, so she was advised to wait six months, keep an eye on it and then come back. Perhaps there would be something detectable then.

The next six months of stabbing, debilitating pain was rivaled only by the agony of wondering if the cancer was metastasizing. Homeschooling her two children was a welcome distraction, but every day felt like a year.

At the end of my rope, and after a lot of contemplation, Tanya told Franco she'd decided to have a mastectomy. She wanted to make sure the cancer would never come back again. Her ever supportive husband said, “Whatever you decide, I’m behind you. I just want you to be well.”

Tanya spent years looking for more natural solutions to reduce her risk. She saw a holistic nutritionist, an iridologist and two Naturopathic Doctors. They were great, but when it came to supplementation, she couldn’t find any in the therapeutic doses I required to restore my energy or take away my chronic sore throat. That’s when the idea came: Franco and her would seek the guidance and counsel of natural health professionals and start their natural health products business.

They  would start a company that would educate people about the benefits of natural medicine and bring it to the mainstream. 

In 2005, Franco gave his notice at work, and Tanya said goodbye to her left breast. The surgery was far worse than she had imagined; lymph nodes had grown back and had to be removed. There were staples galore and an uncomfortable drain for over 10 days. But still, CanPrev was becoming a reality. Their dream was coming true…

Franco and Tanya launched their first line of therapeutics in January 2006. Slowly and purposefully they grew, carefully assembling the talented group of individuals that comprise the CanPrev family today. And as the company flourished, so did their family, as she gave birth to two more children in 2010 and 2011. She was in my forties by then, and her prayers and dreams had been answered in more ways than one.

She didn’t know it at the time, but having cancer was actually preparing her for a personal and professional journey that would fulfill her life in ways she never thought possible. From something so terrible has come so much good.

In 2015, Franco and Tanya marked 10 years of providing quality, comprehensive products that people use to support their health every day. They are grateful for the wonderful results; the daily testimonials of how these natural health products are helping Canadians is humbling.

It’s their that CanPrev will continue to educate and bless others with the gift of better health, for many more decades to come.

Source: Modified article by Tanya Salituro, Canprev


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