Age: 37

Lives: Gaithersburg, MD USA

Occupation: Managing Director, Chemonics International

iJourney: Patagonia Program


“After losing our son and nearly dying during childbirth, I was a broken woman. Getting pregnant with our daughter meant a second chance at family, but when I was eight months pregnant, I was diagnosed with breast cancer (on our wedding anniversary). Instead of nursing my baby girl, I underwent five months of chemotherapy (starting on my 32nd birthday), several surgeries (including bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, and most recently a preventive hysterectomy and oophorectomy) and continued adjuvant hormone therapy. Breast cancer took my fertility, so we decided to expand our family through adoption. While I may be in remission, cancer has left an indelible mark on my life. It has left me strong but weakened, confident but terrified that I won't be there to raise my little girls. Gillian Lichota, Founder and CEO of the iRise Above Foundation, was the friend who helped me deal with my diagnosis and manage responsibilities at work and at home while going through chemo and surgeries. Following in her footsteps, I have tried to be a "wounded healer" for other women struggling with cancer diagnosis during pregnancy. I still need healing, too, though, and the iRise Above iJourney Program fills the gaps that sometimes feel like impossible chasms. I look forward to talking with counselors I can count on and who understand what I'm going through, to having yoga and meditation and physical fitness regimes that account for how my body and mind have changed, to earning the life-affirming experience of hiking Patagonia by any means, to finding sisterhood with a "tribe" of women who have been there and back again with this hell called cancer. My name is Deborah Hutchison, and I want to rise above breast cancer.”   


Age: 50

Lives: Hamilton, ON Canada

Occupation: Award-winning Broadcaster for The Weather Network

iJourney: Patagonia Program


Kim MacDonald is an award-winning broadcaster who has been delivering the weather to Canadians across the country on The Weather Network for 20 years. She is married with two daughters and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. In December 2016, Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer. She spent most of the next year undergoing treatment including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. She documented the entire journey in a blog called "Weathering Cancer" ( She also discussed her experience in a radio talk show during a segment called "Kim has Cancer". Today, Kim is in remission. She has returned to her work on television and continues to be an advocate for breast cancer awareness and research funding. She is a spokesperson for the Breast Cancer Society of Canada and an Ambassador for iRise Above. “Going through chemotherapy, surgery and radiation takes a lot of physical and mental stamina. I thought that was over when I had completed treatment. I was wrong. The struggle continues long after the hospital visits stop. I need the iJourney Program to help me accept who I am today, to help me focus on the positive, and to prove to myself that breast cancer hasn’t made me less. I want to show myself and others that I still have so much to live for and that fear will not stop me. iRise Above is giving me an opportunity to heal, that is nothing short of life changing.”


Age: 42

Lives: Brighton, MA USA

Occupation: Executive Assistant, Vida Ventures

iJourney: Patagonia Program


“Until I was connected with the iRise Above Foundation, I lacked a centralized, innovative, age-appropriate approach to healing my mind, body and spirit following my breast cancer diagnoses. I was uninspired and felt powerless over my own health and wellness. My focus was on what my diagnosis had - and perhaps would - take from me, leaving me feeling emotionally overwhelmed, isolated and depressed. Thankfully, this incredible organization, and the 6-month iJourney Program they offer, have helped me shift my focus to a positive one. They are helping me lean into my fears, let go of the negativity, and live a life filled with excellent health, possibilities and fulfillment.  My journey with iRise Above has brought about a positive transformation of mind, body and spirit.  I have joined the journey to healing with the iRise Above Foundation, and I could not be happier! I have been working with their Wellness Collective of experts, receiving the targeted support I have so desperately needed so I can thrive moving forward, and be the best version of me. This November, at the end of the 6-month iJourney Program, I will join a group of other young women in the program, for an epic adventure of a lifetime! I will embark on a 13-day trek through Patagonia, from Chile to Argentina, all-the-while feeling empowered and inspired and celebrating life using the new holistic tools I have learned." 


Age: 41

Lives: Calgary, AB Canada

Occupation: Junior High School Teacher

iJourney: Patagonia Program


“I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in December, 2017. I am the mother of two beautiful boys and they are my life. Though I was devastated by the diagnosis, I refused to feel sorry for myself or position myself as a victim. As an optimist who looks for the light in all things, I have chosen to see my breast cancer diagnosis as a gift, offering me a renewed sense of self and purpose. I've called it an awakening of sorts; I prayed for clarity and God answered. Now that I have completed the grueling medical aspect of treatment, I am ready for the next phase in my healing with others who understand my unique challenges and fears as a young woman. Fortunately, by the grace of God, I am not alone. My life has been touched by others who have a familiar story with breast cancer, helping me to feel less isolated and more supported. I choose wellness over illness, to thrive in life. I want to feel inspired and empowered over my own health. I'm hoping iRise will be able to help me gift myself the self-care that my mind, body and spirit are so deeply craving without any feelings of guilt. I have been given the opportunity to join this program alongside my longtime friend and other like-minded women in an effort to close one chapter of my life and open another, equipped with an amazing toolbox for healthier living and much needed healing.” 


A Breast Cancer Foundation to

Challenge Old Paradigms & Change Perceptions of What It Means to Have Breast Cancer

© 2017 The iRise Above Foundation is an Officially Registered 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization, EIN: 82-3157631