Sylvia Soo is inspirational. She’s a visual artist and leathersmith with a background in education. Though surviving cancer twice by the age of 31 doesn’t define her, it certainly makes her story a little more incredible.
At the age of 25, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. To help her process what was going on with her and to keep friends and family in the loop, she started a blog called Cancer Fabulous (at the time it was private). Documenting her countless doctors appointments, the candid thoughts she was feeling, and everything she was learning about cancer along the way, the blog became a helpful resource that she decided to share with the public. She figured if she could help one other person who is in a similar situation by being open and relatable, it was worth it.
A few years later, she found out the cancer was back. Dealing with her diagnosis gracefully, she prepared herself for more surgeries and radiation, again sharing her journey on Cancer Fabulous and gaining a notable following worldwide. Writing and sharing her experience helped readers, and also opened doors for speaking engagements and meaningful collaborations.
Sylvia was a part of The Scar Project, a photography exhibit artfully displaying people baring their cancer scars. She appeared in documentaries called Baring It All and I Don’t Have Time For This. She just released an e-book (Cancer Fabulous Diaries) in partnership with Rethink Breast Cancer that features snippets from her blog, interviews with other survivors and health care professionals and a lot more. It’s really beautifully designed and a labour of love - I recommend taking a look!
She really is so much more than a cancer survivor. She’s a talented artist – you can find her work in RR Gallery and on display in local cafes. She took up leatherwork in an art therapy class and has since taken the same class another two times because she loved it so much. She started with journals and now offers wallets, clutches, and custom pieces. When you see her art and leather goods at markets, stop to appreciate that this creative outlet helped her (and, indirectly, many women around the world) get through unimaginable darkness.
Sylvia’s Favourite Places
go// Constable Ezio Faraone Park - 97 Ave & 110 St
Before her cancer treatments, she travelled a lot. When she was tied down to Edmonton, she went to Ezio Faraone Park often and learned to find beauty wherever you are. She finds the park very grounding now.
drink// District Coffee Co. - #101, 10011-109 Street
We met at District, one of her favourite coffee shops (Josh's too!) She loves good quality coffee, she doesn't discriminate where it's from. Other favourites are Transcend and Duchess.
go// Citie Ballet
Sylvia loves watching their performances. As she says, it’s where dance meets art.
eat & drink// Bar Bricco - 10347 Jasper Avenue
Sylvia’s favourite menu item (and mine!): Fonduta Agnolotti Dal Plin, Sage Butter, Parmigiano
Sylvia’s Favourite Things
covet// Sylvia Soo Leather Goods
It’s not a shameless plug. She loves working with leather and puts her heart and soul into every piece she makes.
covet// Her travel companion, a Bimba Y Lola bag
Sylvia bought it in Barcelona 4 years ago and it has travelled everywhere with her.
Sylvia’s Recommended Reads
read// A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton
It looks like a kids book but it’s actually for adults.
listen// Radiolab Podcasts
She listens to these podcasts as she’s working and finds them very interesting and stimulating (so do I!).
Sylvia’s Words of Wisdom
She has a few bits of advice to share. Something she’s working on this year, and believes everyone should, is balance and breathing. Making time for stillness and learning how to be comfortable in that stillness is important. A key to her success has been surrounding herself with good people and those who will be honest with her. It helps keep a good head on her shoulders.