Chanakan Kalapukdee: The Ultimate Survivor!
August 23, 2013
Chanakan Kalapukdee has survived life events that would fell the toughest of us, yet she now thrives by celebrating and appreciating every day. She is the ultimate survivor!
Chanakan left her home in balmy Thailand and arrived in Canada in 2007 as a live-in caregiver. She was alone and spoke only basic English. As if that weren’t enough, she still marvels about arriving in Toronto in the dead of winter without a coat – how’s THAT for culture shock!
But her story became truly heart-wrenching just a few short months after her arrival. In November 2007, after experiencing debilitating pain for several months, she discovered that she had a rare tumor and that she would need to have surgery, although it wasn’t yet known whether the tumor was cancerous. Unfortunately, the tumor was indeed cancerous and she was hospitalized for almost two months!
Incredibly, Chanakan’s generous employer offered to bring her mother and teacher (she studied nursing) from Thailand to be with her while she recovered. He covered their flight as well as their stay in Canada for several weeks. When she asked her employer why he was being so giving, he responded that he saw her as “one of the family” and that he valued what SHE was giving to the family. Chanakan also had daily visits from a friend she met in the fall, whom she later married (go ahead, reader, you can reach for the Kleenex and sweet music here).
This remarkable woman continues to amaze. She now lives in Guelph with her partner, healthy and happy. She’s had no trouble finding work as a personal support worker, and is now embarking on another adventure as a Thai massage practitioner.
When asked what advice she would give to newcomers to Canada, she said, not surprisingly, “Never give up!” From being told in Thailand that she wouldn’t make it to Canada and doing whatever she could to prove those people wrong, to making it through a serious health crisis, this stubborn fighter (as she calls herself) is a true survivor!