This post is by Fabiana Bacchini:
Hearing that you have ‘cancer’ must be a moment one never forgets. For this woman that moment was a reality. After one month of crying and despair our Brilliant Woman of the week said to her husband: “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be ok” and she reassured her doctors and nurses: “I’m going to fight that ‘creature’”. The nurse pointed to her head and said: “This is going to cure that”.
Iro Missios, an immigrant from Greece, was determined to fight for her life and to keep her family together. “I realized that my family started to fall apart so I decided to help them. I was always very positive”, she explains.
She came to Canada alone in 1965 when she was only 18 years old. She dreamed of a better life for herself. She was employed with her first job three days after her arrival here in a clothing store and attended night school four times a week to learn English. One month later, she met Andy, also a Greek immigrant. They were married one year later. Iro decided to stay home to raise their 3 children. “I fought very hard to keep the culture alive, to keep the language. They all went to Greek school, Greek dance class and church. The teenager years were more challenging, but now they are proud of their heritage”, she adds.
After 16 years at home, she started to help her husband at their pharmacy. However, she always had a dream of starting her own business. After her surgery in 98, she was given the paperwork to apply for disability. “No way I want that. I want to work. I don’t want to stay home and feel sorry for myself”, she says. She went back to the pharmacy and in 2004 her big dream was about to come true.
She started a small business in the basement of her husband’s pharmacy with her daughter. They started to import underwear from Greece and distribute it in Canada. “The disease gave me the strength to open my own business. I could do anything now”, she tells me. One year later, Iro opened her own retail store. “I didn’t want to think that I was going to get sick again and I kept going”. Her wholesale business is now operating across the country. And to celebrate her 10th anniversary of being cancer free, Iro participated in The Weekend to End Breast Cancer in Toronto. “It was such a wonderful experience. I will never forget that”.
I asked her what advice she would give to someone going through the disease right now and she says: “keep fighting and never give up. Look forward to all the things that you want to do”. This attitude certainly gave her the power to keep her alive and live life beyond cancer.
Iro Missios lives in Toronto with her husband, her 3 children and 6 grandchildren.
To contact her:
Underworld – 3084 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON