Mamas, Mammograms & Mental Health


My mother inspires me every day. I’ve always known how lucky I am to have her as my best friend and guiding light in my life. Growing up is no easy task, and I often find myself feeling scared and confused like I’m the four year old girl who, on the first day of school, wrapped her body around my mom’s legs, planted firmly on her foot, and refused to let go as the thought of starting fresh and alone in a new and unfamiliar place was unbearable to me even then. As I’ve grown to experience the beauty and madness of our sometimes terrifying world, my mom has led me forward, stuck by my side, and given me hope to carry on when I was suffering from depression and didn’t think I could make it another day. With her heart of gold, I’ve watched my mom live her life to help others. My mother is a doctor, a job she gave up to take on the job of a mother, staying home to raise my sister and I. This is is a privilege I’ve come to appreciate the older I get. I will forever admire my mother’s positivity that, through her battle with cancer and in more ways than she may know, has shown me the meaning of resilience and courage. Every lesson learned and opportunity I have is thanks to her selfless dedication to putting the needs of others before her own, always with a smile on her face. Her wisdom has taught me that the only thing that matters is the kindness you show to others, and the gratitude you have for life and all its gifts. She taught me to greet everyone with a smile, to always wear sunscreen and buckle your seatbelt, and that no matter how bad things may be now, never give up because whatever it is, it will get better. She’s also passed on a rather severe obsession for all that is British, from which neither of us will ever recover. Those who have met my mother know how special her spirit is, and her calming aura has been a gift in my life and in so many others. I’m so proud of everything my mom has done and overcome. Maybe you think your mom is magic, but I know mine is. I love you, Poom! - Serena Marotta



I must say that I was very surprised and pleased to be asked to write a little bit for this paper, and about my daughter and some of her experiences at Western. I’m not sure that this is exactly what the editors had in mind, but here goes!


My “baby girl” is Serena. You may know her, but likely you do not. It’s a big school. I guess what comes to mind when I think about her is that like most mothers, (or a facsimile thereof, the person who loves you beyond measure will do) I loooove my girl and am very proud of the person that she is and is becoming!!!!! Like most of you reading this have discovered, life’s road is not always straight and smooth. It is inevitably full of twists and turns, hills and valleys. Serena’s life is no different. As her mother, I of course think that Serena is bright, bold, loyal and beautiful. She is exceedingly creative, has great style, and is really kind, funny, charming, resilient and fierce! And that smile and laugh!!! I would also add that she is incredibly brave, although few people, until this moment, know why I feel this way.

When I dropped Serena off in first year I had undergone a mastectomy for breast cancer the week before. I am fine now! However, that time and these past few years have been a bit of a trial by fire for her. But it is in fire that steel is forged, and she emerged from those flames as a source of support, strength and inspiration to me, and I hope to others. Still my “baby girl,” but so grown up. I’m sure many of you reading have had your own challenges. That is life. I imagine our challenges help us build character and make us kinder people not only to others, but hopefully to ourselves as we learn to cope with them. 

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, my advice is for every young woman to learn how to do a proper breast self-exam and perform it monthly. Remind someone you love to get her mammogram if she is due. Mammograms save lives. One saved mine! :)

By the way, cancer does not play favourites. All young men should be performing monthly testicular exams as well!

Also, if you find yourself having difficulty coping emotionally, do not be ashamed to ask for help. So many people, at some point in their life, will suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. Western has a great Student Health Service, and there is help available for the asking. Don’t feel as if you have to suffer alone, because you don’t!!!

Perhaps schoolwork is a bit overwhelming. That’s a given, and an understatement! Nothing worthwhile was ever achieved without effort. Try and take a few deep breaths. Take breaks. They refresh the mind and the soul. 

Perhaps you are lonely. Many people are you know. My mom used to say you only need one friend, and also to have a friend, you must also be a friend. Reach out to people. And to those to whom someone may be reaching, open your hearts and minds. You never know what treasure you may find!

Try and remember that there is always a way. It may not be obvious or easy. Take the advice of some wise person in your life, or listen to your heart. You will find the answer.

So I see my Serena, with her long, dark hair, often configured into a messy bun, some days steeled against the wind, but hopefully most days now with the wind at her back, carrying on as she makes her way along those campus paths that are leading to somewhere that I know is great. Why? Because the world is full of possibility and is waiting for your magnificence!

Best wishes to all of you reading this. Stay strong and warm. Winter’s coming!


- Her mom.


P.S. If this piece has wings, and can get to Ed Sheeran somehow, I heard he was looking for a girlfriend. I think Serena and Ed would make a great couple! She’s got the biggest heart in the world. It’s both gold and blue, as in “true.” And did I mention beautiful!!! :) I can say that. I’m her mom, and she’s one of the great loves of my life!!! I’m not sure she will let me add this whole paragraph. I hope so. Mothers!!! Lol.

P.S.S. It’s worth repeating. Perform monthly breast self exams. Remind someone you love to get her mammogram if she is due! :) MAMMOGRAMS SAVE LIVES! 

XO to all!!!

For more information, please speak to your doctor or visit the website for the Canadian Cancer Society:

We wish to express our sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Andrea Christidis. Your loss is unimaginable. 


“But I’ll blow you a kiss when I get to the sky, 

And let the birds carry its love on the wings 

That raised you to heaven, above common things,

With open palms sending a plea to the wind

To bring back your words and place them within,

There to be captured and firmly held dear 

Your words then forever the voice in my ear.” 

-Serena Marotta


May You Rest in God’s Peace