Lisa Ray

“I call this base camp,” says Lisa when asked if she considers her cozy townhouse in the Toronto Beach area to be her home. With a busy life making movies around the world, it’s advantageous that she can be equally at ease in Paris as she is in a village in India, or in a café on Queen Street.

In 2009 and 2010, she also came to be ‘at ease’ in the clinics of The Princess Margaret where she was treated for multiple myeloma (MM), a rare type of blood cancer that affects specific white blood cells called plasma cells which are a key part of our immune system. Here she bonded (as many patients do) with the capable and compassionate nurses that administered her chemotherapy. Lisa explained that she has rather inaccessible veins, so she always presented her nurses with a challenge. She found that singing “Hey Jude” (sometimes at the top of her lungs!) provided the distraction she needed as nurses ‘poked’ as gently as they could to find a vein to tap in to.

Lisa was also the recipient of a stem cell transplant, a life-saving procedure required when your bone marrow no longer produces enough healthy stem cells.

Knowing that a positive attitude can be just as important a prescription for cancer as many other remedies, Lisa is continuing her busy acting career, but with the wisdom of a ‘cancer graduate’. She prefers this term to the more frequently-used ‘cancer survivor’ because in her words, “It has been a journey… an experience, that, at the other end of it, I have gained a lot of knowledge and wisdom from.”

She wants to help raise awareness of multiple myeloma, and has enthusiastically supported the establishment of The Molly and David Bloom Chair in Multiple Myeloma Research—a Canadian first—now held by Dr. Donna Reece. Her ‘Lisa Ray Tigers’ participated in the 5K Your Way event that raised funds for the Chair.

Lisa has spent considerable time reflecting on cancer—its source, how it begins, and how to adapt your life after receiving cancer treatment. Many of her thoughts are captured in a blog that she has kept up since receiving her diagnosis.

She is grateful that she received her treatment at a hospital that understands that recovering from cancer involves more than surgery, radiation, and drug therapies. As a dedicated student of yoga and meditation, it was important to her that she was in the hands of professionals that acknowledged that patients are more than just their disease. When she saw a flyer describing the Healing Beyond the Body program, she knew she was in the right place.

Visit Lisa’s blog


October 2013