Day 91 - Michelle

91 Michelle.jpeg

Day 91 - Michelle (5th person I approached)
April 01, 2014 - Michelle was born at BC Children’s Hospital, and grew up in East Vancouver.

“I went to Catholic schools, for both elementary and high school. The only thing I could say I was aware of that was different between Catholic schools and non-Catholic, was that they were more academic. I had friends who went to non-Catholic schools and they were able to take electives like wood shop, or metal work. My schools didn’t offer those types of subjects, and so I guess with the academic focus, it might have helped me to do better. I also liked that the school was smaller, so I knew other kids in all grades, not just kids my age,” she said.


Michelle’s mother is Ukrainian, and her father is from Portugal. She has an older brother and two half sisters. When I asked if she minded telling me about her half sisters, she didn’t hesitate to explain.

“My mother had two children with another man before she married my father. The first daughter she put up for adoption, and then she was going to keep the second child, but realized that it would be in the child’s best interests to put her up for adoption as well. I didn’t know anything about them until I was a teenager. They contacted my mother who sat down with my brother and I and told us that we had two half sisters,” Michelle told me.

They are all in regular contact now, and Michelle has made trips to Saskatchewan to spend time with her sisters. I asked Michelle if she could see herself or any similarities in either of them that she noted.

“Oh yeah, for sure. I was visiting once, and I heard a voice and turned to say hello to my mother, and it was one of my sisters. They’re both a fair bit older than I am, and so I knew my mother at that age, and she sounds just like her!” 


After high school, Michelle went to study marine biology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Michelle told me,

“I wanted to be a marine biologist, but the program was very different than I had anticipated. You spend a lot of time studying micro-organisms, and sea urchins and things, which is fine, but I wanted to get more hands-on with mammals.”

She left UBC and enrolled in nursing at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

“I enjoy working with people, so it just seemed a natural choice. I’ve been involved in swimming since I was a little kid, and went on to get my life-guard certificate and have taught swimming as well. I also had my First-aid and CPR training. The program was 3 1/2 years long and after I graduated, I went into nursing,” she said.


Last year, Michelle took a year off from working here in Canada and traveled to Australia.

“I wanted to travel and spend some time figuring out what I want to do next with my life. I intended to ‘chase the sun’ but I ended up spending a few months in Sydney, and the rest of the time in Melbourne,” she told me. Michelle chose Australia because they have a similar nursing status, and she wasn’t required to sit any examinations or complete more schooling to get work as a nurse there. 


Michelle has been back in Vancouver for about six weeks now. I asked her what’s next, and she smiled and said,

“Well, I went to Australia to figure out what I want to do with my life and I still don’t know at this point. I might go back to Australia again. I feel like I’m back at square one. Right now I’m working at the (British Columbia) Cancer Agency. It’s a really good job and I like what I’m doing.”

Michelle told me she’s working as a chemotherapy nurse, administering chemotherapy to patients undergoing treatment. I asked if that was a difficult environment to work in.

“That’s what everybody asks and thinks. But it’s really not. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, far more than many other areas of nursing, and I really get a chance to work closely with the people that I’m caring for. It’s actually very rewarding.” #notastranger