Fort McMurray, AB (December 7, 2021) — Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Bouchier are excited to announce the fourth nominee of the 2021-2022 Women of Inspiration Series.
Sundas Shamshad has been selected by the committee for her growth through adversity, passion for supporting cancer survivors, as well as her volunteer work around action-driven advocacy.
Shamshad moved to Canada from Pakistan over 20 years ago. She has volunteered with Toronto Public Health, and after moving to Fort McMurray began volunteering with Northern Canada Collective Society, Markaz ul Islam, as well as on the World Hijab Day Committee.
In 2019, two years after her own cancer diagnosis, Shamshad launched Sisters in Cancer. From appointments to procedures, she found herself feeling isolated and alone. She soon discovered there were very little resources available in our community to support those fighting cancer, as well as survivors.
“This suffering, this trauma that I had gone through, it should not go to waste. I had acquired so much during this experience. I have learned about life, about how to stay active, about how to manage my mental health and I feel like that information would have gone to waste if I had just moved on with my life,” — Sundas Samshad, fourth nominee of the 2021-2022 Women of Inspiration Series.
Shamshad took this discovery and created Sisters in Cancer to provide peer to peer support, advice to tackle side effects, and liaison of different organizations. Those organizations include Compassion House Foundation, which provides support for women fighting cancer by providing affordable accommodations and delivering programs and services post-treatment. During this process, she had also witnessed how much stigma and barriers were around survivors themselves to seek support. “No one should fight alone,” says Samshad.
Shamshad is now a member of the board for the Compassion House Foundation. She is also working with the Alberta Cancer Exercise Program to promote active living among cancer patients and survivors and has worked with Wellspring to find innovative ways to support rural Alberta communities in finding resources and mental health tools.
“Unless we talk about things, I feel like communication and power are not given to a person and people suffer through because if you don’t understand what other people are going through, how will you be kind enough to help them? Voice is power. Voice is engagement. Voice is communication. And voice is empathy because when you’re not talking, you’re not telling your story — somebody else is.”
Shamshad will join four other Women of Inspiration nominees to be honoured on March 19, 2022 at VOICES: Women of Inspiration Celebration — Together, we can amplify.
The application deadline for the fifth nominee of the Women of Inspiration Series is December 30, 2021. The nomination form can be found on our website.