Harjeet's story: Inspiring others to advocate for their health

In 2019, Harjeet began experiencing high fevers with no other symptoms. Weeks passed and she found herself in the emergency room numerous times. After two and a half months in the hospital Harjeet was diagnosed with stage 4 Subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma. Her diagnosis was complicated with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocystosis (HLH) - an auto immune disease. This form of cancer is very rare with only 150 cases reported worldwide.

Harjeet and her husband.
Harjeet Kaur and her husband

Making a positive impact in the lives of others and the future of cancer

Hearing that you have cancer changes your life, and the lives of those who care about you,” says Harjeet. “When you’re faced with the greatest obstacle and the only choice is to live, you take a breath and focus. Cancer was a condition I could not control, but the way I reacted was up to me. 

She began an aggressive chemotherapy treatment right away as her cancer was quite advanced. After completing 12 rounds of chemotherapy, she received a stem cell transplant as soon as she was in partial remission. The transplant took place in April 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, she was isolated for 32 days with a strict no visitor policy. Harjeet describes the stem cell transplant as unbelievably tough for her, without having her family around for support. But with her brother being her donor match, it was ultimately successful.

She says her amazing husband and family got her through those tough times. "It’s been a long journey to get here - at some points, I felt like this day will never come. But here I am, getting better every day and living my life." 

Harjeet began writing a blog about her cancer experience, to support others going through something similar. Now, it has been read by people worldwide.  In addition to her personal blog, she also spends her time volunteering with cancer groups like the Canadian Cancer Society. In, she found new supportive relationships with people impacted by cancer and caregivers to help her on her journey. 

"I feel happy if I'm at least able to help others and bring change to the cancer community," says Harjeet.

Harjeet also joined the network of advocates Voices for Change. Together, they raise awareness for government action to prevent cancer and improve the lives of people affected by cancer. She was recently featured in our Get Better campaign, calling on government to get better at addressing cancer care.  

Get Better Cards from the  Canadian Cancer Society

Advocacy plays a big role in Harjeet's journey now. While staying at the University of Alberta hospital, her husband advocated to get her diagnosed as soon as possible. They continue to advocate for more post-cancer treatment and follow-up appointments for other Canadians. 

“Everyone who has suffered from cancer should advocate for their health and a better life after cancer,” says Harjeet. 

Encouraging others to be vocal about better cancer care

Harjeet and her family wearing cancer fundraising t shirts.
Harjeet and her family

Harjeet believes that patients have the right to educate themselves about treatments and support services. That belief drives her passion for advocacy. 

“To be vocal about our cancer battles and what we go through is not easy,” says Harjeet. “We need to be listened to and considered as cancer patients who are going through this life-changing disease.”  

It’s been 3 years since Harjeet’s cancer diagnoses and 2 years since her stem cell transplant. She is currently NED (no evidence of cancer) with follow up scans every year. She continues to write about her journey and looks forward to the impact Voices for Change will have. 

Join Harjeet and thousands like her who are using their voice to make important changes to cancer care.