While many Canadians know and love Nicole Karkic for being the face of "The Weather Network," the meteorologist has been praised for sharing another aspect of her life — her battle with breast cancer.
Karkic was diagnosed in July 2022, and has since undergone a series of surgeries including a double mastectomy.
While the TV host and meteorologist is hopeful that the worst days are behind her, the road hasn't been easy. The last year has been filled with pain, uncertainty and uncomfortable side effects from medication and surgery.
After being put through the ringer, Karkic is sharing her story with the hopes of raising awareness and inspiring breast cancer patients to put their best foot forward.
"I do think it's important that I share my journey on social media because there's stigmas surrounding [breast cancer] that need to be put to bed, like desirability, mentality and dealing with your changing body," Karkic told Yahoo Canada.
At "The Weather Network," Karkic clocks in at 4 a.m. While working in-between her surgeries and recovery has been a welcome distraction, she sometimes struggles with the industry's ruthless beauty standards.
Karkic explained it can be difficult to always look your best, because "appearance matters" on television.
And because she's dealing with a host of symptoms amidst her cancer journey, such as fatigue, nausea and noticing signs of aging, it can sometimes get her down.
"In my industry you have to be presentable and look your best and that's hard for everyone, let alone people with cancer," the 43-year-old said. "Look at people like Lisa LaFlamme."
It's like women have an expiry date. It's hard because you build up your experience and suddenly it doesn't matter anymore."Nicole Karkic
While she's only been experiencing menopausal symptoms for the past month, Karkic's healthcare team told her it will get worse as she continues to age.
"So far I've only noticed hot flashes, but my surgeries and antibiotics might be masking some symptoms," she said. "I was told to start taking calcium because my bone loss will increase and I should also be taking vitamin D. It's kinda crazy."
Amidst her journey, Karkic has "struggled" with her mental health. In her eyes, navigating unfamiliar territory, such as menopause, surgery recovery and recurring infections has worn her down.
She's determined effective strategies to help lift her mood — getting outside, going on walks, getting massages and opening up to her family.
"I'm trying to cope with the menopause and my body, and for so many people these topics are uncomfortable. It's taking a mental toll but I just have to use my coping skills to get through, and trying to be brave," Karkic said.
Another challenge Karkic has experienced is dealing with her health in a male-dominated industry.
She said "The Weather Network" is balanced when it comes to gender, because their employees are hired based on skill and experience.
However, she explained this is not the case at other companies, and explained that women can feel belittled in the media industry due to age.
"In the industry, there's the pressure of the clock ticking because I am older. And I really feel it. It's the way of society to cover up. I mean, I use filters; I'm a victim to wanting to blur out my wrinkles to look younger," she said. "As a woman you just know you won't last forever, no matter what rapport you build."
It's the way of society to cover up. I mean, I use filters; I'm a victim to wanting to blur out my wrinkles to look younger."Nicole Karkic
Cancer, beauty, menopause and aging are loaded topics that play a massive role in overall mental and physical health, but the meteorologist is using her story to inspire others.
"It's important to talk about these stigmatized subjects and show people that it's OK to do so," she added.
In a recent Instagram post, Karkic touched on sharing her health journey with the world. While she sometimes finds it hard to speak out, her story helps let people know they aren't alone.
"I have been reluctant to share more posts on my health journey of late, because to be honest I am tired of telling people that I am not [one hundred per cent] yet. It all feels like a bit of a bummer. But, I keep being reminded that sharing my story has been helpful for some..." Karkic wrote.
"So with a little more time, and more wins — I will be at [one hundred per cent] in no time!" she concluded.
When it comes to advice, Karkic urges women to get screened regularly, as early testing can save lives.
Karkic caught her own cancer early and didn't have to go through chemotherapy and radiation, which helped her cope.
She also encourages all women to build up a support system to help them navigate life issues such as health and aging. "My husband has been great and really helpful. But having people you can turn to can help you mentally," she added.