Nalie Agustin, whose cancer journey inspired thousands worldwide, dies at 33
Nalie Agustin, whose years-long battle with cancer touched the hearts of thousands of her supporters on social media and beyond, has passed away, according to her family.
She was 33.
"On behalf of the Agustin and Thakrar family, we thank you for your support and outpouring of love. We thank the Great Spirit for the gift of Nalie’s life," her family wrote on her Instagram page Tuesday evening.
The Montrealer was 23 when she started chronicling her journey with early-stage breast cancer in 2013, deciding to open up about her health challenges on YouTube and inspire others living with the disease.
She had overcome her fight with cancer, but four years later her cancer returned. This time, it was stage four. Despite the setback, Agustin didn't let it stop her from continuing to tell her story in her own way.
The outpouring of condolences on social media was a testament to the impact she had on people's lives.
"There aren't enough words to begin to describe the impact you left on every single human. You are so loved and will be so missed Nalie. Until we see each other and all meet again, thank you for touching us all with your strength, love, and unicorn smile," wrote Karolina Victoria Jez on Instagram.
"I have no words. You inspired so many of us to keep fighting no matter what circumstances life threw our way. You are symbol of hope; you made us see that anything and everything is possible. May you rest in peace," wrote Stephen Voyce.
In 2017, in the face of her second diagnosis, Agustin organized a live fundraiser in support of the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation and a metastatic breast cancer research program hand-picked by her.
She told CTV News at the time that she worried more about having to break the bad news to her supporters than she did about losing her battle with cancer.
"I did chemo, I did a mastectomy, I did radiation and then I was cancer free. And then I had to come back three years later and tell all these people who looked up to me as a beacon of hope and tell them I relapsed. It's back," she said in an interview.
Agustin kept telling her story. In 2019, she was one of the faces of a lingerie campaign launched by Rihanna, who selected young women who battled breast cancer for her Savage X Thrivers line of clothing. "Thank you for participating in our mission to share the often untold stories of metastatic breast cancer and giving a voice to the unheard," she wrote on Instagram as a thank-you to the singer.
Last year, Agustin became a best-selling author after writing about her ups and downs with her diagnosis in a book, "The Diary of Nalie." A graduate of Concordia University's communication and cultural studies program, the Filipino-Canadian used social media to candidly share her experiences and promote her own brand of inspiration to her more than 113,000 followers.
In her final posts to Instagram, she wrote about her decision to stop chemotherapy treatment and about consultations with specialists in New York to explore other ways of healing.
In announcing her death on Tuesday, her family said details about Agustin's celebration of life will be announced later and shared a message of how she would like to be remembered. The full text is below.
"I don't want to be remembered for the clothes I wear, the things I own, the places I've been.
I don't want to be remembered for how I tie a headscarf or how well I pull off short hair. I don't want to be remembered for the products I recommend, the treatments I have undergone, or even the remedies I practice to heal. I especially don't want to be remembered for having cancer.
I want to be remembered by how I made you feel in my presence. I want to be known as the one who remembered your birthday and went all out to make it special. I want to be remembered for every time I made you smile or cry tears of joy. I want to be remembered for always giving it my best and, despite how I felt or what was said, I never stopped believing in me - and you. I want to be remembered for the way I loved, purely with all my heart and without barriers. I want to be remembered for the impact I made in your life.
I don't want to be admired, I want you to feel inspired.
Through you and your inspired-living is how I wish to leave my legacy."