I first met Tetanya at a local t.v. studio. She had been invited, by a local influencer, to participate in a panel that included interesting, impactful women, doing meaningful things in our city.
I was immediately struck by her overall joy, obvious gratitude and personable, engaging nature. She was welcoming, friendly and totally unpretentious. Uncommon; yes.
I learned that she was a local fashion designer and that her craft was born out of love and passion for beauty and creativity. Her creations were made out of repurposed fabric, like old Cavalli gowns. Eco-fashion. Green. I thought it was clever and on trend. I admired the way that she pursued something that she loved doing; something that brought her joy. That quality is uncommon too.
After my initial introduction to her that day, I met her again, a few weeks later, at that same t.v. studio. She was being interviewed and shared her story, which was more amazing than any of her accomplishments.
One of my initial thoughts about Tetanya, was that she lived like no one was watching. No one was judging. People rarely live with that type of abandon and sharp focus on what really matters to them, personally. She just took pleasure in every moment; every interaction with every person, every creation she had sewn. She was utterly humble. She seemed to be motivated by joy and love for what she was doing. There was an absence of detectable ulterior motives. She was very authentic.
As I listened to her interview that day, and in our own subsequent conversation, my observations about Tetanya were proven totally correct, and an incredible explanation of why she lives and thinks the way that she does was given.
An educated, life long career woman, life suddenly changed, when a cough and nasal problems revealed the presence of a brain tumor, just a day before her fortieth birthday. Within a year, the tumor, had doubled in size and while it was not cancerous, it was threatening her overall health and raised the spectre of death. She lost her peripheral vision. With daily changes to her vision, impeding it, and memory loss due to the tumor, she lost her job.
Through the battery of tests that she was subjected to, arthritis was discovered and diagnosed, as was fibromyalgia. These were new and additional burdens, unrelated to the tumor. Related to the tumor, was the possibility of being confined to a wheelchair.
Tetanya, was depressed and living in chronic pain.
Eventually, surgery, to remove the tumor, became inevitable. It was a risk though. The surgery could kill her, but, if she opted not to have the surgery, she would certainly die due to a complication brought about by the growing brain tumor.
On the day of her surgery, scared, Tetanya had her epiphany about how she wanted to live, if she did. She told me that her life flashed before her mind’s eye like a movie. If she didn’t die in the surgery, she would live a life that she loved, simplified, based on love for herself and others, and pure gratitude for life. She would not fear what others thought. She would take risks. She wouldn’t focus on social conformity but on the things that she really wanted and needed to be happy. She would do whatever she wanted to, without worry of what it may look like to others. She would delight herself in life, entirely, unfettered by fear.
Tetanya lived and has adhered to her promises to herself. Functioning on the basic belief that she has been gifted with a second chance at life, she has committed to living like no one is watching, doing the things that bring her true joy. Here is the thing: people are watching. Long before I ever noticed her, others have. As she has said, “yes”, to living a life that she truly loves, incredible opportunities have been given to her!
She has participated Vancouver Fashion Week as a model; the event’s oldest. Her work in eco-fashion has gotten her noticed by Vogue. She has been invited to participate in New York Fashion Week, as a designer. She has participated in numerous pageants representing women over 40; truly an underrepresented segment of the female population. She has entered and won, the Mrs. B.C. Pageant. She has been a featured speaker for, “She Talks”, which got an honorable mention from CNN as an International Women’s Day event not to be missed. In truth, this is only a brief list of her accomplishments and awards.
I think that we all love a success story, especially one that we can identify with because the scope of it is not beyond our own reach. Tetanya’s story is not beyond our own reach. We all can, just like she did, decide to live life on our own terms and no one else’s, focusing on the fact that it is, a gift. Life is a gift, a very personal gift, to each one of us.
Using that understanding as a starting point, there is a lot that we can do for ourselves and others, just like she is, and the result is fulfillment.
Anastasia Anthony Zervos. Anastasia is a realtor and freelance writer, living in Vancouver, Canada. Her latest project contribution, “Remember The Gospel: How to Move Forward in The Christian Life”, is available on, amazon.ca