It is with tremendous pride that we announce Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP as the lead sponsor of The Adam Fanaki Brain Fund.
Adam Fanaki was a partner and distinguished member of the Competition Law practice at Davies from 2009 until his death in 2020 of brain cancer.
Learn more about Adam's illustrious career here.
Thanks to this financial contribution from Davies, The Adam Fanaki Brain Fund will be able to help more organizations, patients and caregivers living with a life-changing brain tumour diagnosis.
May is Brain Tumour Awareness Month - Toronto woman creates fundraiser to help patients and caregivers
MAY 18, 2020
TORONTO, ON., May 18, 2020 -- Janet Fanaki lost her husband Adam this past February to brain cancer. He was only 51 years old.
May is Brain Tumour Awareness Month. In his honour, Janet and her children created The Adam Fanaki Brain Fund to raise awareness and money for patients and caregivers living with a brain tumour diagnosis.
“In 2016 my husband was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a terminal form of brain cancer," says Janet. "Since his passing, and being on the other side of this disease, we felt it was our duty to help others and the organizations that were so vital to our wellbeing.”
Since late February, The Adam Fanaki Brain Fund has raised $90,000 in pledges for programs at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital and the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
These three organizations were central to the Fanakis treatment program and emotional support. Donations have come from individuals as well as corporations like Davies Ward Phillips Vineberg LLP and BMO Nesbitt Burns.
Janet Fanaki is the founder of RESILIENT PEOPLE and The Adam Fanaki Brain Fund and RESILIENT t-shirts where 100% of the proceeds go to The Adam Fanaki Brain Fund. She is a speaker, writer and mother of two from Toronto. Donations can be made to https://my.charitableimpact.com/groups/the-adam-fanaki-brain-fund.
For more information, please contact Janet Fanaki at (416) 271-7887, email@example.com and www.resilientpeople.ca
My husband Adam passed away almost two months ago. Since then I've barely cried or felt any deep sorrow.
Today is Easter and I woke up feeling very alone. As if today was somehow different than any other day.
I've heard many times that the first holidays are the hardest when you lose someone. This is our first.
Easter was the holiday we hosted each year. Usually around 25 people including our brothers and their families, my mom, his aunt, cousins and sometimes close friends.
The morning would start with Adam's carefully orchestrated egg hunt. He always had the best hiding spots.
"Sweetles, you look, too" he'd say as I would contentedly sit on the couch watching the kids search under cushions, behind furniture, on top of hanging frames and in flower pots.
I loved looking over at Adam and seeing the expression on his face as he watched them feverishly trying to outdo each other in who could collect more.
Hectic preparations followed in the lead-up to everyone's arrival. The dog would bark at the non-stop knocking at the door. Adam would be there to greet everyone along with Isobel and Sam, with lots of hugs and kisses, and shouts of "Happy Easter" to me in the kitchen.
We'd sit crammed together around a few long tables. Adults and big-kids in one room with the little ones in another. There was a lot of noise and laughter. It was beautiful.
COVID-19 and the pandemic it has ensued has halted everyone's celebrations. I take solace today in knowing that we're not alone in feeling miserable and isolated beyond our social distancing.
It pained me to contact our guests a couple of weeks ago to cancel Easter brunch. I followed with offering to host something once we get the green light to socialize again.
I already can't wait for that day.
So 32 plastic-filled eggs are waiting to be found this morning, but I'll admit that my hiding spots aren't that clever. The noise level during our big meal will be, well, much less noisy.
With the 3 of us instead of 4, I can't help but wish we had the big sounds around us today.
Thinking about all of you who are feeling the same way.
April 12, 2020
Author with a furry friend at Hide Seek Toronto. Photo cred: Maggie Knaus
My grief started the day that my husband was diagnosed with a terminal disease. He was given a year and a half to live and surpassed that by another 2 years.
Most of that time I lived feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest. Every symptom had me reeling and ready to call the cancer centre's nursing line to check if we should come in for analysis.
It especially got bad for the last 7 months when the cancer moved to his brain stem and impacted his walking, speech and vision.
All I could do most days was to take each minute as it came and step out the minute that respite arrived at our door. A friend coming to visit, someone to take him to lunch or when he lay down for a nap.
In many ways, it felt like having a baby again. "Grabbing those moments" as parenting experts would say.
Adam and I were only 47 years old when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma and 51 when he died in February. The prime of our lives when we were beginning to make plans for the next phase in life. This was not part of that plan.
Shortly after the funeral, I found myself starting to make other plans. Visiting out-of-town friends was a big one. A trip to spend a few spring days New York to visit my friend Jackie and see a Broadway show with some more time with Laurence and her family in Brooklyn.
Another good one was going cross-country skiing in the Ottawa area of Gatineau Park with my longtime friend Vicki. There would be good wine consumed at dinner the night before and tonnes of girl talk on the couch.
The kids and I had even started thinking about an end-of-school trip. The kind that we often took as a family. This one might have taken us to LA and then on to Maui. A place that we hold close to our hearts.
After years of being a caregiver and having my time and energy at someone else's disposal, I was ready to move on. And along came COVID-19 to derail it all.
This worldwide pandemic has impacted everything, not the least our healthcare system, the economy, education and people's lives.
To date, millions of people around the world have been affected either by being diagnosed with this virus or in losing their lives. And there's no quick end in sight.
I'm lucky that I have my children living at home with me. One who moved back from university and the other finishing high school. Being together so soon after the funeral and during this global crisis brings me a lot of comfort in having people to self-isolate and socialize with in-person.
But I was ready to start living my life again. My calendar was already marked-up with a few fun events and fabulous outfits at the ready. Yes I was still in mourning, missing the person who was no longer here but who also wanted me to carry on living.
Virtual coffee and wine chats have been a phenomenal way for me to stay connected with family and friends. But when will that time come when we can all bust out of the bubble? Imagine how good it will feel to be together with the ones you love again?
I know I'm not alone in this thinking but missing a partner in this journey puts me at a big disadvantage. It would have been much more fun to be isolated and canoodling together.
So in the meantime, I'll keep wearing my "good" outfits daily, styling my hair and face and virtually keeping up with the outside world with the hope that we'll all be socializing in-person in the not-so-distant future.
Janet Fanaki is the founder and lead creator of RESILIENT PEOPLE where she interviews EXTRAordinary people around the world who are admired for their resilience. She lives in Toronto with her children and mini poodle Ella. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram (@resilientpeopleca), Twitter (@resilientpeopl) and on the RESILIENT PEOPLE Youtube channel.
April 7, 2020
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing us into self-isolation, I’ve been wondering how different groups are coping with these changing times?
Recently I spoke with three young adults about their challenges and learned about their methods for finding fun and staying connected outside of their homes. School has switched to online learning, programs are cancelled and times are stressful. We can’t get together with our friends to vent and commiserate. So what are these three doing to get through these tough times?
I was joined by two 18 year olds Caitlin Starr and Sam Fanaki as well as 20 year old Isobel Fanaki.
There’s a lot of stuff that’s not so positive going on. How are you all doing?
Sam: My biggest concern was in getting school together. There was a lot of uncertainty but teachers have been putting stuff online so I’ve been planning my days around that. If we do go back to school I won’t be super far behind. I’ve been coping by keeping myself busy.
Caitlin: This whole thing was very out of the blue. I’m trying to take it upon myself to stay ahead and keep going. I have my textbooks and there’s tonnes of stuff on Youtube to keep me learning.
That takes a lot of self-discipline. How about you, Isobel, as a third-year university student how are you finding it?
Isobel: University is already a self-sufficient environment. It’s also harder not being in that environment where you’re surrounded by other people and you’re cheering each other on. It’s also strange not being able to study with your friends and go to the library.
With the lack of in-person social contact, how are you all coping?
Sam: I didn’t do a lot of online gaming before with my friends but it’s been a good way to keep us connected. Giving yourself another outside activity is a good way to stimulate social interaction.
Caitlin: The main thing that’s been difficult for me is that I can’t go to my competitive dance classes. Instead of us all being sad about it, we get onto Facetime groups together and talk about how we’re all doing. My dance class did a neighbourhood walk together which was really fun. Instagram and Snapchat are a huge help for me, because I get to stay in-touch with my friends.
Isobel: I’m surrounded by the university environment and I sometimes work from home but not for this length of time. It’s very different staying up till 2 at home when everyone’s asleep at 9, versus everyone staying up at school. One of my friends and I went on a walk together, we were walking but in our respective neighbourhoods talking together but not together. My friends and I will watch Twilight together from each other’s places. There are ways to be with your friends but be apart.
Sam: My friend and I did a social distanced walk but you can’t do that with a big group. We do a lot of calling and Facetiming to simulate being in the same room together.
Caitlin: I want to do the Netflix party extension. You pick a Netflix show or movie and you get a link that you send to your friends and you can all watch it together. There’a live chat too so you’re all watching it together.
These three have found some creative ways of spending their days and learning to cope with a lot of uncertainty. None of us know when we will be with our family and friends again, but technology is clearly helping this group to embrace being “together alone”.
Janet Fanaki lives in Toronto and is the founder and lead content creator for RESILIENT PEOPLE, a website that profiles EXTRAordinary people who are admired for their resilience. Her guests have bounced back from a major challenge and now help others be resilient too. To learn more, follow her on Facebook and Instagram, Twitter or email
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, April 2, 2020 -- Toronto resident Janet Fanaki created the website RESILIENT PEOPLE out of her own story of resilience.
The site profiles EXTRAordinary people worldwide who are admired for overcoming a major challenge, bouncing back and creating something to help others be resilient too.
“I launched the website after my husband was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer,” says Janet Fanaki. “At the time he was 47 years old. For three and a half years of surgery, clinic visits and acting as his primary caregiver it was a terribly challenging for him, me and our entire family. My strong mindset coupled with supportive people and practices around me helped us.”
Launching RESILIENT PEOPLE was a cathartic process for Janet as she was searching for others who also bounced back from major challenges. Since 2018, the site has become a sense of community and inspiration for people everywhere.
“Every person I profile has taken a problem and made an opportunity to help themselves and others. This is why they are RESILIENT PEOPLE.”
Suggestions for discussion:
Please contact Janet Fanaki at: (416) 271-7887, firstname.lastname@example.org and www.resilientpeople.ca
Janet Fanaki in her backyard. Photo cred: Sam Fanaki
I write about resilience almost every day. Interviewing EXTRAordinary people around the world on how they find it and what they do to maintain it.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenges. No matter the type of obstacle that resilient people face, they are able to overcome it and move forward.
The people I’ve interviewed have faced their own personal challenges in many different ways.
Some have had a spouse die of a terminal disease. Others have been hit in a motor vehicle accident and gone through months of extensive rehabilitation.
There are also those who continue to deal with difficulties with no clear end in sight. Homelessness, chronic pain and depression are some examples where people can potentially live with a lifetime of hardship.
I’ve met dozens of individuals who have learned to live with or overcome their challenges and still inspire others to be resilient too.
How do they do it? Where do they pull their inspiration from?
As a teenager who survived the Holocaust, Toronto’s Elly Gotz was full of hate towards all Germans. But as Elly realized that the hate didn’t serve him, he learned to “not feel too bitter about difficulties and deal with them.”
For Mona Lam-Deslippe of London, Ontario, whose son was brutally murdered in 2016, people would say, “take things one day at a time,” but as she learned, “sometimes it’s an hour at a time, a minute at a time, or a breath at a time. You just carry on to the next breath.”
The resilient people that I have met do not look too far down the road for answers to their problems. The key is in their attitude and perspective, which reflects in their resilience.
They evaluate what is in front of them, what they know for certain and take things as they come.
Yet few go about it alone.
Tara McCallan of Kingston was devastated when she learned that her newborn baby, Pip, was born with Down Syndrome. “I was grieving the child she was supposed to be and who I thought I wanted her to be,” says Tara.
But as one day she took to social media to express her heartbreak, something interesting happened. She was contacted by people around the world who personally identified with her, chatting about their own experiences.
Parents of Down Syndrome children were writing her daily and Tara eventually found global support through her Happy Soul Project community.
Resilient people seek out the symbiotic relationships that offer empowerment whether it’s through volunteerism, establishing their own support network or projecting the positive energy that naturally gravitates people to them.
When my husband was diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer called glioblastoma, we approached the disease and our treatment program as a project. “Now we know what this is, let’s get the best team around us to help us,” is what I said to my husband.
Battling such a destructive disease with just as an aggressive treatment plan would not have been possible to withstand without helpful family and friends. Just as we curated our medical team we did the same with our immediate circle of support.
Now through RESILIENT PEOPLE I continue to connect with people who display resilience as a way to share lessons learned with each other and the world.
It’s in times of dischord that resilient people know the role that strong networks play in helping to withstand struggles. And knowing that with the right attitude and help around them, anything is possible.
Janet Fanaki lives in Toronto and is the founder and lead content creator for RESILIENT PEOPLE, a website that profiles EXTRAordinary people who are admired for their resilience. Her guests have bounced back from a major challenge and now help others be resilient too. To learn more visit www.resilientpeople.ca
What is Resilience?
Resilience is a process and the capacity to adapt in the face of adversity or significant sources of stress.
People commonly demonstrate resilience and emerge stronger, wiser and more able. The level to which they are or feel resilient varies in each area of their life.
Compared with people who have lower levels of resilience, people with higher levels of resilience perform better at managing any obstacles they are presented with and they tend to not be phased by them.
Resilience is comprised of your thoughts, feelings, behaviours and actions - the things you exhibit and experience every moment of your life. Developing resilience is a personal journey that can be learnt.
Identifying the strategies or approaches that work best for you is key to building your resilience. That takes time and involves thorough exploration.
How will resilience matter? Future trends predict significant changes in our economic, environmental, legal, political, societal and technological systems.
Being resilient will become - and is - a critical component to our individual and collective survival and prosperity. The implications of these changes will impact your career, your health, your relationships, your perspectives, and much more.
By understanding and enhancing your resilience today, you can be better prepared for whatever - large or small - presents itself tomorrow. The road to resilience is likely to involve a period of distress and an emotional response to that challenging experience.
Many people often carry these experiences with them as they navigate their present and future career paths, their personal relationships and their community affiliations. Identifying and addressing what serves you today - as opposed to what worked yesterday - is vital to learning, processing what is happening, and thinking about what is possible.
The Centre for Creative Leadership identifies 8 key steps to become more resilient:
1. Accept Change. Change is not easy. Change is constant and inevitable. The more comfortable you are with change the more resilient you will be.
2. Continuously Learn. As things change, you will need to learn and apply new skills and understanding. Holding onto behaviours or skills that do not work anymore will not help.
3. Take Charge. Empower yourself to make a change and make meaningful shifts to guide the way. Do not expect someone to do it for you.
4. Define Purpose. What gives you meaning and puts things into a larger context?
5. Create Balance. Separate who you are from what you do and what is happening to you. You are not your work or your job. You are not a disease. You are not a moment in time. How would you define who you are?
6. Cultivate Relationships. Develop and nurture a broad network of personal and professional relationships. It will act as a strong base of support which is critical for achieving goals, dealing with hardships, and developing perspective.
7. Reflect. Make time to reflect on what has happened in times of hardship or celebration. Reflection fosters learning, new perspectives, and a degree of self-awareness that can enhance your resilience.
8. Reframe Skills. Question your definition of yourself and your life. Reframe how you see your skills, talents, and interests. By casting your skills in a new light, you can see how they may shift into new patterns.
Questions to consider might be:
To schedule a free 30 minute consultation today with Amanda Calzolaio, visit www.amandacalzolaio.com
Adam and Janet Fanaki celebrating their 50th birthdays (December 2018)
by Janet Fanaki
Was it all a dream?
It hasn't even been three weeks since Adam passed away and I find myself wondering if it was all a dream? Not a bad dream or a good dream...just wondering if any of it even happened?
There are dozens of reminders of him around me.
The photos of holidays together around the house and on my phone. His favourite mug in the cupboard. A box of cereal that he would religiously pour a bowl of every afternoon for a snack. His cell phone that stays on our kitchen counter with the home screen being a picture of him leaning in to give me a kiss on the cheek.
I remember the moment when our son Sam took that photo. I miss that kiss.
The last few years were graciously absorbed in caring for Adam. I was there for every appointment with the surgeon and oncologist, IV treatments, clinic check-ins, meeting with the funeral home and cemetery, and finally the palliative planning team.
There were a handful of appointments that I couldn't make because of my own medical or work conflicts, asking friends or family to step-in for me.
Those were unsettling times because I wanted to be there for everything.
Adam's brain cancer was an unwelcomed member of our household. With us, our two grown children and dog, his glioblastoma took up the most space and made the most noise without saying a word. It was always present.
Our surgeon told us when Adam was diagnosed in 2016, "There will be a point when this will be on the back burner," but I can honestly say that that never happened.
It was unavoidable to look at Adam and not be reminded that he had cancer. The scar from 47 staples on the left side of his temple to the base of his ear caused sparse hair to grow back. It was staring us and him in the mirror everyday.
Even for the 2 years when he was well, it was there to remind us. Celebrations and trips away were planned when his health was good, and life was put on hold to a large degree when things were bad.
Cancer did try and take the best of us for a period of time.
But he was good for a long time and it almost looked as though HE would be the one to beat it. As quickly as cancer arrived in our lives, though, it feels as though it took Adam away from us even faster.
One morning he was still here at home, waking up and then collapsing to the floor, rushed to the hospital and a few days later he was gone.
Life following Adam's death was busy. Planning the funeral, collecting flowers and food deliveries at the door for days afterwards, visits from family, friends and neighbours and keeping on-top of the government and financial filings that needed to happen.
I was in this weird state of wondering when he's coming back from his work trip. He travelled so much and was away from home for long periods of time sometimes, this just felt like another one of those times.
I told my therapist that now I almost feel as though our life never happened. Was this my grief?
She looked me squarely in the eyes and said, "this place is where you are now. It feels surreal."
Surreal. A word that means hallucinatory, out of the ordinary and unreal. Sounds about right for where I'm at.
This person who I loved, built a family and a life with, is gone forever. With many memories and evidence of his life and love around me.
And now I must move forward with all of these, but without him beside me.
Janet Fanaki is the Founder and Lead Content Creator of RESILIENT PEOPLE, a website that profiles EXTRAordinary people who are admired for their resilience. Her guests have experienced something life-changing, bounced back and now help others to be resilient too.
by Cory Resilient
My name is Cory and I’m here to share my story and experience around being homeless.
I was born in Fort Erie, Ontario and grew up a few hours away in Hamilton. My parents were alcoholics and my father was a drug addict. I saw him do needles, smoke crack cocaine & heroin and at one point he was in jail.
Cops were always coming to the house, and I was surrounded by a lot of fighting and experiencing abuse. My parents split up and my mother got with another man who was also an alcoholic and abusive to me.
Loud music, drunk people and violence kept me up all night. It was hard to go to school. I was always getting into trouble and sometimes suspended. I was also put into a special behavior class.
At 13 I ran away from home to live at my father’s place. He was remarried and my step mother was sober and a good influence.
She eventually left him and he started doing drugs and alcohol again. He sold drugs too.
My dad taught me how to cook and sell cocaine, and by 15 years old I was charged for stealing cars, break and enter, weapons and drug possession.
When my dad died it was a turning point for me.
In my life I have experienced nothing but pain, corruption, death, abandonment with no good influences or guidance.
I wanted to know what a “good life” felt like. To me, it’s a car, a dog, a nice place, healthy friendships and a woman in my life.
To be one step closer to a good life, I visited a homeless shelter for the first time. I also got a job thanks to a local employment centre.
I was working full-time earning minimum wage but I got a nice apartment. Everything was being paid for by my credit card and I couldn’t manage it. I lost my place and was homeless again.
To me, homelessness looked like this:
I was a victim until I was an adult. I was upset and angry at the people who did this to me and it made me lash out and led to a life of crime.
When you get into trouble it’s the responsibility of the person to change. But its flaws in the system that prevent the change from happening.
I am 28 years old and still homeless. I survived drug addiction, jail, the criminal system, homelessness as a youth, overcame abuse, stigma and mental illness.
I am trying to get into Anawim House in Victoria, British Columbia to be one step closer to stability, rehabilitation, routine & structure. I need to get off of the street, to get well and progress.
It took inner strength to get through my past - I should have been dead or still in jail.
I use my experiences to empower me instead of making me feel bad. I use it as my drive to be resilient and help others. With every problem, I knew that there was a solution. I believe through my own work that I can help empower others. It has become my purpose.
My YouTube channel, Cory Resilient, shows my experiences and connects with people with a similar past. My goal is to educate street people on a better way of thinking and life, based on my own personal experience.
I want to be something bigger that can have an impact on society and be an example of making it through. Being resilient.