Montreal firms mount class-action lawsuit against breast implant manufacturers – Montreal


The year Judith Lépine turned 19, she says, was one of the most difficult of her life.

“I’m telling you [now] I want to live,” she said, weeping.  “I’m 25, I am not dead.”

But in her late teens, she thought of giving up.  The reason, she says, was suffering as a result of breast implants.

Bowmanville woman wants Health Canada to push awareness of ‘breast implant illness’

When she was 16 years old, she had textured breast implants to correct breast asymmetry. The surgeon, she says, told her and her parents at the time that they were safe.

“I developed so many, so many health problems,” Lépine said.

For nine years, she suffered from a range of illnesses, from bouts of depression to excruciating pain.  But she says her doctor didn’t take her seriously.

“When I went to see him, he would say it’s all in your head,” she said.

WATCH: Canadian woman warns about risks of breast implants

It wasn’t until June 2018 that she discovered the problem was likely connected to the implants.  She had them removed and it was confirmed they had ruptured.

Several women have had similar experiences.  That’s why two Montreal law firms, LPC Avocats, and Tiger Banon Inc., have filed a class-action lawsuit.

“The defendants in this case are Allergan, Mentor and Ideal Implants,” explained Joey Zukran of LPC Avocats.

The companies, he argues, violated Quebec consumer laws by not informing consumers of the risks involved in using textured implants.

Breast implants could cause rare cancer, FDA warns after 9 deaths (2017)

“Firstly, the serious risk of cancer, number one,” Zukran said, detailing the risks, “and number two, the fact that these textured implants have an increased risk of rupturing.”

Since filing the petition for the lawsuit a few days ago, he adds, numerous women have come forward.  Among other things, the lawyers are suing for the cost of the implants, which can cost up to $10,000, Zukran says.

Coincidentally, Lépine had her implants removed December 18th — the same day the the Allergan implants were banned in Europe.  She still has health problems and wants women everywhere to understand the risks.

“I plan to advocate for this for the rest of my life,” she said, wiping tears.

On its website, Allergan says, “Patient safety is Allergan’s highest priority and we continue to collaborate with clinicians, societies and global health authorities to advance research, understanding and awareness about breast implant effectiveness and safety.”

LPC Avocats is inviting women who believe they may have been affected by implants from any one of the three manufacturers, to register.



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‘We can get you to the beach the next day’: Breast implant marketing plays on insecurities, minimizes risks


  • This investigation is part of a global media collaboration with CBC News, Radio-Canada,Toronto Star and the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that examined tens of thousands of medical devices and how they’re made, approved and monitored by regulators worldwide.
  • Learn more about your medical device by searching the CBC News database of Health Canada records.

The ailments listed on Nikki Carruthers’s medical chart read as follows: blackouts, memory loss, fainting, vomiting, thyroid problems, angina, hypertension, heart palpitations, high-blood pressure, migraines, chest pain, ulcers, depression, anxiety and exhaustion that keeps her in bed for at least 18 hours a day.

Carruthers, 29, had barely seen the inside of a doctor’s office until 2013, when she decided to get breast implants. The cascading health issues that followed have triggered dozens of hospital and doctor visits.

« My entire body was shutting down, » said the Winnipeg woman, who has been unable to work since July. « My throat is burning and [it] hurts to swallow. It feels like someone is sitting on my chest when I try to breathe. »

The promotional machine driving the $1-billion global breast implant industry runs on tastefully lit, aspirational images of perfect bodies, glowing testimonials and inspirations from celebrities — but in many cases provides little mention of the potential risks, a Toronto Star/CBC Marketplace investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has found.

Breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgery in the world, with 10 million women opting for breast implants during the past decade. Most have not reported adverse health issues, and some studies point to high satisfaction rates. Manufacturers stress that there have been many studies over the years that have demonstrated that their products are safe.

A Marketplace producer, posing as a patient who wanted breast implants, visited three Toronto plastic surgeons with a hidden camera to learn how they explain and market the procedure. (CBC)

But Carruthers is among the increasing number of women across Canada who have suffered health complications they believe are associated with their breast implants. They also believe they were misled by surgeons who reassured them that the health concerns of the 1990s were addressed more than a decade ago.

There remains no cause-and-effect directly linking implants with some of the symptoms described, but research has linked textured implants to a rare cancer known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL.

Since Monday, the ICIJ has heard from more than 540 women responding to an online callout for responses to the global series of stories on breast implant health issues. Among the 45 Canadians who responded are women complaining of infections, hair loss, body inflammation, muscle weakness, trouble breathing, neurological issues, suicidal thoughts and implant rupture.

The promotion of implants

A review of 25 websites belonging to plastic surgeons in the Toronto area show plenty of alluring images but little detail on the adverse outcomes associated with breast augmentation.

Undercover visits to three Toronto plastic surgeons by a CBC Marketplace producer — who posed as a prospective patient — revealed sales techniques, some of which a leading medical ethicist called « very problematic. »

At age 23, unhappy with her body image, Carruthers came up with $6,300 — financed through a line of credit — for breast augmentation.

It seemed safe and easy. She said she was told little about the medical risks beyond the standard warnings associated with any surgery.

« It was made to seem like getting a haircut, » she said. « He told me there were only very minor cosmetic risks which he would fix in a touch-up procedure should something go wrong. »

Nikki Carruthers explains why she initially decided to get breast implants:

Nikki Carruthers explains why she decided to get breast implants 0:55

The message on the plastic surgery websites she visited were full of promises of confidence and perfection.

Any excitement about her new body was soon undermined by health problems, said Carruthers, who had the implant surgery in 2013.

Just over a year later, she had a second surgery to relieve severe pain in her chest. The implants had bottomed out and dropped too low on her chest.

While informed consent for each separate medical procedure is not actively enforced by the province or a provincial physician watchdog, it is a principle intended to ensure that patients are fully aware of the potential outcomes.

There is no standard script plastic surgeons use to inform patients of the risks. Each physician has their own approach.

‘You do need to understand’

When the Marketplace producer asked about recovery time at the three clinics she visited, the answers ranged from 24 hours to six weeks.

« We can get you out to dinner the night after surgery, we can get you to the beach the next day, » said Dr. Mahmood Kara.

When asked to explain the specific technique, Kara replied: « You don’t have to understand, just need to know that I can deliver, and I’ve done it on thousands of patients. »

University of Toronto bioethicist Kerry Bowman says that response fails to provide the understanding necessary for the patient to have informed consent.

« That would worry me, because you do need to understand, » said Bowman. « Ethically and legally … you have to have a capable patient and she needs to fully understand and appreciate all of the risks. »

University of Toronto bioethicist Kerry Bowman says it’s very important for patients to understand all the risks of any surgery, including something cosmetic, like breast augmentation. (Dave Macintosh/CBC)

The presentation of medical risks associated with breast implants are also of concern.

During the consultation, Kara outlines what he called the common risks of the surgery, such as bleeding, infection and internal scarring around the implant, known as capsular contracture.

But on his website, Kara calls it a « myth » that implants leak into the body if they are ruptured.

Dr. Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, director of the rheumatology at the University of Alberta’s medical school and a co-author of several studies detailing connections between breast implants and autoimmune illnesses, says that advice is challenged by research.

« There are plenty publications demonstrating leaking of silicone with new implants, » he said.

In a list outlining the risks of implants, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also notes silicone gel from ruptured devices can migrate away from the breast.

Kara declined repeated interview requests.

Consent forms can be hard to get

At the clinic of plastic surgeon Dr. Martin Jugenburg — known as Dr. 6ix on his website — the journalist asked for a copy of the consent form that describes the procedures, surgical risks and post-op instructions that she would have to sign before making the decision and providing a $2,000 deposit to book the surgery.

« I don’t think I’m allowed to do that for some reason, » said a clinic nurse, though she later provided the consent form.

« I’m amazed that there’s so much pushback on getting the consent forms, » Bowman said after reviewing Marketplace’s hidden-camera footage. « I think asking to pay in advance is very problematic from an ethical point of view. »

More than 10 million women worldwide have received breast implants over the last decades. But some patients have since had the devices removed, saying they have suffered health complications they believe are associated with their breast implants. (CBC)

In a written response, Jugenburg said his clinic does not require patients to pay in order to view or receive consent forms.

« This was not clear during your researcher’s visit, and as a result of your feedback, I made sure in the future there will be no confusion. »

At a third Toronto clinic visited by Marketplace, Dr. Sean Rice spent time describing the implant surgery itself. His nurse provided a lengthy consent form and told the producer she would need to take it home and read it, and then contact the clinic if she had questions or concerns.

Dr. Sean Rice spent time describing the implant surgery itself. (

In an email to Marketplace, Rice said, « I want to ensure all patients fully understand risks associated with their surgical procedure. I offer an opportunity to discuss the consent form after review to allow any followup questions before surgery. Patients deserve time to evaluate and question a consent from before endorsing. »

Bowman believes time for patients to reflect on the decision they are making is crucial, though there is no prescribed period outlined in college guidelines to physicians.

The Marketplace producer was offered a range of available surgery dates at the three clinics visited: 24 hours after the consultation, four days later, and a few weeks later.

Before-and-after photos

The overwhelming majority of plastic surgeons’ websites contain testimonials and « before-and-after » images that appear to breach provincial legislation and the policies of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons.

« Where we have been alerted to the use of before-and-after photos in the past, we have held that they constitute testimonials in contravention of the regulation, » said college spokesperson Shae Greenfield, noting the regulator has penalized physicians for doing this.

Last year, the college cautioned Kara for using before-and-after photos in a magazine advertisement.

« Given his repeated breaches of advertising policy and regulation, the [college complaints’] committee was not satisfied that he would change his behaviour without further guidance, » the decision reads.

‘We can get you out to dinner the night after surgery,’ Dr. Mahmood Kara told a Marketplace journalist posing as a potential client interested in breast augmentation. (

But prominently featured on his website today are more than 260 before-and-after photos of plastic surgery procedures.

Jugenburg is currently facing a disciplinary hearing before the college, which alleges he committed professional misconduct for advertising methods, including permitting a film crew into a surgical procedure without the patient’s consent, making « improper » use of her images and posting « pre- and post-operative images of her on his social media accounts without her consent, » along with « pressuring her to follow and contribute to his social media accounts. »

In a written response, Jugenburg said the allegations are « denied and being defended. »

The use of before-and-after photos is « widespread » in medicine, he wrote, and the images provide « pertinent information to the public, as patients increasingly perform their own research on the internet, demand more transparency … and more self-directed decision-making ability. »

Dr. Martin Jugenburg — known as Dr. 6ix, an allusion to The Six, a popular nickname for Toronto. (’s website currently has more than 250 before-and-after images for a variety of plastic surgery procedures.

Some plastic surgeons shun the practice of posting before-and-after images.

Toronto plastic surgeon Dr. Leila Kasrai explains on her website why she does doesn’t: « Due to the advertising regulations of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario imposed on all doctors in Ontario, we cannot display photos and testimonials of our patients. »

Opting for an explant

Worsening symptoms eventually led Nikki Carruthers to undergo a third breast surgery last September: This time to have her implants removed although she never received a clear diagnosis that attributed her symptoms to the implants.

When they came out, a discovery: The right implant had ruptured and both implants showed capsular contracture, according to an analysis of the removed implants by Pierre Blais, a former Health Canada senior advisor and chemist who now runs an Ottawa company that tests the devices.

« This type of rupture is common and indicates … material fatigue, » his report reads. « It is not the outcome of trauma or accidental … damage. »

Chemist Pierre Blais analyzed Nikki Carruthers’ implants for CBC’s Marketplace. (Dave Macintosh/CBC)

In an interview, Blais said Carruthers’ right implant rupture, which « broke into four parts, » is hardly unique.

« When you look at the instructions for use for a product like this … it says a rupture may happen, » said Blais. « It’s not really right. They should say a rupture will happen — it depends how long you have it. »

Carruthers said Blais’s findings were a vindication. « My instincts were correct. I was not going insane. »

Since her explant, Carruthers said a liver tumour has shrunk. But she has yet to return to work due to pain and fatigue, cognitive impairment, tremors and autoimmune symptoms.

« I can only imagine how many women are out there right now … having no idea what’s wrong, feeling hopeless and crazy, » she said. « The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach every time I think about it. »


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Coffee and Armagnac Roasted Duck Breast Recipe


Put the duck breast, prunes, spices, Nespresso coffee, and Armagnac into a plastic re-sealable bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, turning occasionally to make sure duck marinates evenly. Remove the duck breast, pat very dry. Place the duck fat side up on a tray and transfer to refrigerator to chill and dry out for 24 hours.


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If You Care About Thanksgiving Leftovers, You Need to Make an Extra Turkey Breast


If you want the best leftover turkey sandwich of your life, you have to make an extra turkey breast. That’s just how it works. It sounds like turkey overdose, but we promise you, you’ll thank us when you take the first bite of the sandwich that will change your day-after Thanksgiving tradition forever.

The ultimate flaw of the next-day turkey sandwich is that the turkey breast that was sliced from your beautiful bird has dried out even more in the fridge. Your mouth is going to be walking through a poultry desert no matter how much mayo you slather on that thing. That’s why you take out the ultimate turkey insurance policy. You roast a bone-in, skin-on turkey breast in addition to whatever else you’re making for Thanksgiving.

Wait, turkey breast that’s attached to the bone? But not to the turkey?

Yes, precisely. Cooking turkey breast by itself is the perfect move for turkey sandwich obsessives, because it lets you concentrate on cooking the turkey breast to perfection, without worrying about whether or not the dark meat off to the sides has finished cooking. And if you’re unfamiliar with the cut, have no fear, because a bone-in, skin-on turkey breast isn’t hard to find at your grocery store, especially around the holidays.

We like the breast to have the skin on and the bone attached, because it offers a bit of insulation for the meat, giving you a juicer, more tender turkey when you roast it. (You can definitely fry or grill the breast, but the evenly distributed heat of an oven will cook your turkey more gently—especially when you follow our method right here.) They also offer the meat an extra dose of flavor as it cooks, since they’re filled with fat, proteins, and collagen.



Always cut against the grain!

And while we’re on the subject of flavor, you should absolutely be seasoning your turkey breast with a dry-brine. A dry-brine will deliver flavor quickly and efficiently, while taking up less space than the large, turkey-sized tub of wet brine that would be sitting in your fridge. We’re really into the dry-brine from this dry-rubbed turkey breast recipe, which is packed with coriander, fennel, kosher salt, brown sugar, and black pepper. Plus, all that salt helps break down the tough turkey fibers a bit, again helping keep everything nice and moist.

Having an untouched, perfectly-cooked breast makes slicing up meat for a turkey club the next day effortless. But it also offers a couple other options: You can serve it the night of Thanksgiving as the star of your platter—or as backup, should the breast on your main turkey end up dry. Roasting a skin-on, bone-in breast is also a great move if you’re only cooking for a couple people, or have never roasted a turkey before. It’s a more approachable, less intimidating way to get that bird on the table.

Yeah, maybe the idea of roasting an extra turkey breast seems gratuitous. But this is Thanksgiving. It comes once a year, and you better be bringing your A-game. The turkey breast is insurance that you will. Do it for yourself. Do it for your guests. But also, more importantly, do it for the sandwich.

Get the recipe:



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Dry-Rubbed Turkey Breast Recipe | Bon Appetit


Place turkey on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. (If you don’t have this setup, place your turkey on a V-shape rack set inside a large roasting pan.) Sprinkle dry brine all over both sides of turkey breast, patting to adhere. You won’t need all of the dry brine, but it’s good to have extra since some of it will end up on the baking sheet as you season the turkey breast. Chill, uncovered, at least 12 hours and up to 2 days.


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‘Rewrite the trauma’: Calgary clinic offers free tattoos for breast cancer survivors – Calgary


NOTE: The following story contains images of a sensitive nature.

As part of an international event called Pink Day, a clinic in Calgary is offering breast cancer survivors free tattoos.

Jacalyn Swindlehurst was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 after finding a lump. Her older sister was also diagnosed with the disease.

“There were more tumors there than what showed up in the mammogram, so we had to go in for a mastectomy, just for survival rates,” she said.

In 2002, Swindlehurst went to get tested for a BRCA mutation and, after testing positive, she chose to have her other breast removed. She was left with scars from reconstruction surgery and radiation burns.

We need to talk about dense breasts: Why governments are taking notice

Tattoo artist Stacie Rae tattooed 3D nipples on Swindlehurst a couple years ago, but now she wants a larger design to cover the scars.

“Instead of me having flowers or jewels, I really like to downhill ski and winter sports so we’re going to have some snowflakes in there,” Swindlehurst said of the design.

WATCH: The truth about breast cancer screening

The tattoos can vary, from a realistic areola to a more cosmetic design. Swindlehurst called it a big boost for body confidence.

“I have no problem going swimming,” she said. “We own a boat, I have multiple swimsuits and stuff like that. But it would be nice to look in the mirror and have it have more symmetry and not have the scars showing.”

As part of an international event called Pink Day, a clinic in Calgary is offering breast cancer survivors free tattoos.

Blake Lough/Global News

Weir has been tattooing since she was a teenager and has been full-time at it since 1996. After 15 years of regular tattooing, she started doing more specialized work.

“It makes such a difference in people’s lives,” Weir said. “It’s really fulfilling and rewarding work.”

Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival raises $211K for breast cancer research, equipment

“The breast cancer journey can take away so much from a survivor,” she said. “It can chip away their confidence in little ways that they don’t even recognize. Tattooing can be a great way to rewrite the trauma. You can rewrite the experience.”

As part of an international event called Pink Day, a clinic in Calgary is offering breast cancer survivors free tattoos.

Blake Lough/Global News

Jody Stoski, owner of the Cinnamon Girl Clinic, is offering the free tattoos to a select number of applicants for Pink Day. In the community, it’s a respected procedure, Stoski said.

“For our community and the people that we work with, it’s very well known,” she said. “It’s a very respected art to have put on your body that’s safe and okay and is not going to interfere with your healing or anything related to cancer.”


— With files from Blake Lough

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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How CBD Chocolate Changed My Life After I Was Diagnosed with Breast Cancer | Healthyish


I have always had the unholy ability to work unrelenting hours. I could open and close restaurants, pull 30-hour shifts with a broken leg, turn chaotic kitchens into well-oiled machines. I could do it because I love food, and more than that, I love the people who make food their profession, who give so much of themselves to create and share meals with perfect strangers. I love the guests, the farmers, the spice merchants, even the critics. This kind of deep-seated dedication can sometimes make a person feel she has supernatural powers. Like she’s unstoppable even. Until one day she isn’t.

My cooking career began at age 17. I worked in cafés, apprenticed under a French pastry chef in Florida, studied in France, ran the opening corporate pastry program for all of Ford Fry’s restaurants in Atlanta, helped design the menu for the Tate Modern’s restaurant in London. I became obsessed with chocolate and opened an underground confection shop called Sugar-Coated Radical, then closed it down after a robbery and shifted my focus to savory. By August 2017 I was working as culinary director for Atlanta’s Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall—developing menus, hiring staff, creating a training manual—when suddenly the executive chef left and I was asked to take the role. Okay, I said. I can do this. Then came more executive chef roles for the joint opening of two new concepts from the same owner: Muchacho and Golden Eagle. Okay, I said again. I’m strong. I can handle this too. I can handle anything.


Photo by Allie Royce Soble

Taria Camerino at the farmers’ market.

I’d ignored the pain under my arm for months, pushed through, kept quiet. I had a kitchen to run, two more to open, sons to raise, no time. But then one night, alone, drained of energy after a long day of work, I checked. Just check, Taria. That’s when I realized, it’s not my arm. It’s my breast.

When I discovered the lump, everything became transparent, even my own body. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to understand it. So, I went back to work. I opened the restaurants. I ignored the pain for another month. Until finally I couldn’t. “I don’t want to leave you,” I told my sous-chef as we pushed through dinner rush, 15 hours into my workday, “but if I don’t go home right now, I just might die.” It took another month to get an appointment with the doctor.

Mammogram. Ultrasound. Diagnosis. Breast cancer, Stage 1.

It’s a funny thing, being reminded of one’s own fragility. Especially in a restaurant kitchen, which is a hard place to be vulnerable. But I’ve always led with my vulnerability; that’s how I make food that’s poignant. And the good news was, we caught it early. So no surgery, no chemotherapy; just pills every day. “Whatever it takes, you gotta do this,” my staff told me.

Memory loss. Vertigo. Nausea. Seizures. A ministroke.

I was exhausted beyond comprehension. I had to leave my job. There was no position I could hold, and I’d lost my motivation to cook, even for my family. I couldn’t drive myself to the market or stand for longer than 30 minutes. Worst of all, I’d lost my sense of taste: produce picked that morning, fresh-baked bread—the taste had changed, weakened. What was the point of getting out of bed? I pulled inward, disappeared from everyone, unable to bear the thought of people seeing me so broken.

I’ll never work in restaurants again—my body won’t allow it. But now when people say how sorry they are that I got sick, I just smile.

Back when I was a 20-something pastry chef, working with chocolate every day was the norm. But it wasn’t until I went into chocolate-making full time that I discovered the power of sourcing. I remember the day it happened: A woman showed up at the door of my shop with a bag of cacao she’d grown on her ten-acre farm in Ecuador. “Could you use this?” she asked. It was raw and rough, not viable by American standards. But I opened the bag, just to smell it, to take a little taste.

I got light-headed. This was like nothing I had ever experienced: hibiscus, goat’s milk, sunset, fresh rain. I tasted life. “It’s funny you say that,” she replied. “At the farm, we sit under the hibiscus flowers and watch the sunset every evening.”

I spent the next 15 years traveling the world, working with any chocolate I could get my hands on. Cacao orchards in Vietnam, micro-farms in El Salvador. Sleeping on sidewalks and floors, spending all I had in the pursuit of more knowledge and more chocolate. In Japan I studied wagashi, traditional sweets made from plant-based ingredients and served with tea, with one of the world’s few female wagashi masters. I used cacao in my creations, despite my teacher’s insisting it was not traditional. Boiled adzuki beans sweetened with sugar, mochi, rice flour—those were the norm. Not cacao.

Eventually I managed to change her mind with the care I took in sourcing, the spiritual nature of my approach. She asked me to teach her how to work with chocolate, and we spent hours each day touching, tasting, grinding. The aroma filled the kitchen, permeated our living quarters. We went to bed with the scent of cacao, and we woke to it.

When I returned home in 2013, I was changed. More human, more whole. Developing a relationship to people by way of their cuisine is the most profound way to know them.

Fast-forward to 2018, five months after the diagnosis. I’d opted to try an intensive dose of CBD, 1,000 milligrams a day, along with the pills the doctor prescribed. It was working, or starting to, enough that I could dabble in the kitchen again—baking simple things like cookies and brownies. Then one morning I woke up with a realization. I needed to make chocolate again. I needed to smell it, to taste it, to be in a room surrounded by it.

Luckily I happen to have one of these rooms in my house. Eight feet by 12, piled with chocolate from all over the world. The room had sat unused for months as I lay in bed. But that morning I returned, started to explore again. What if I mixed the chocolate with the CBD? Worth a try. I was already making CBD tinctures and extractions, combining them with adaptogens like ashwagandha and valerian: herbs and roots with medicinal properties that Chinese and Ayurvedic healers have used for centuries. Why not combine them with chocolate?

I started by grinding the cacao into a paste for ganache. Raw agave for sweetness. Cocoa butter for creaminess. The going was slow, just a few hours a day rather than my usual 16, but the process was the same: crack, grind, temper, mold. It took four tries to get it right, but when I did, a revelation: a bittersweet dance between cacao and agave, like a kiss from Ixcacao, the goddess herself. A spread-on-toast kind of medicine.

It’s the process—it’s using my hands again—that’s bringing me back to life. I can see crystals forming and moving and shifting as I temper the chocolate, raising and lowering its temperature. These crystals become my body. I am healing. I am feeling like myself again, which tends to make me feel invincible. You know, like I can do anything. Even beat cancer.

Today my cancer is in remission. And my little chocolate-meets-CBD experiment went pretty well. People were interested; they asked for samples—ganache and tinctures and mints—then came back offering money for more.

Logo. Website. Packaging. Production.

Five weeks later I had a company. When you’ve spent your life running restaurants, you know how to work systems. The night of the launch, I left exhausted but feeling like I’d found a reason to be alive, to stay alive. I named the company Alchimique because this process is a manipulation of the elements: of many things becoming another thing. A thing that never existed before. A thing that’s strong enough to heal even me.

This illness has taken permanent shape in my body: weight gain, distortion, pain. I no longer move in the same way, speak in the same way. I’ll never work in large-scale restaurants again—my body won’t allow it. But now when people say how sorry they are that I got sick, I just smile. I tell them how, strange as it may seem, this sickness has brought me home, to my most precious place. I get to make chocolate every day, and it is magic.


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