When asked to describe herself, Tina Cancio, founder of the LGLLeukemiaFoundation.org and a chronic large granular lymphocytic (LGL) leukemia and evolving aplastic anemia (bone marrow failure disease) patient at Moffitt Cancer Center, says, “I am a very proud mother to my daughter Sera Taylor and stepson Christian, and wife to my husband Carlos.” In addition, to being a proud mother and wife, Cancio also is owner of Balance Salon Spa. “Although I am the same Type A personality, my physical body can no longer keep up. But I am a faith-filled, highly positive, independent woman, and I rely on my faith, positive nature and independence every day to carry me through.”
What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?
I believe the secret to our family’s success is that we are always there for one another. We never give up and we always try to think of the positive in every situation. There is always a solution to every challenge and we all work together as a team. We also set rules, boundaries and guidelines for our family and family business.
What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to leave an important legacy to my children and family to carry on. I believe that we are all here to serve an important purpose in life and that I may not have enough time to fulfill all of my purpose here on Earth. I used to have many fears, but with time those fears just don’t seem as intimidating in the grand scheme of things.
What advice would you give to other women?
I would advise women to be always be themselves and follow their true calling. I am firm believer in being true to myself in all that I do. Whatever you do, put your entire heart and soul into it and it is bound to be beneficial to you and others. As a woman, I also feel we are the nurturers of others, and we typically tend to care for ourselves last. I think we need to make sure to take care of ourselves so that we will be there to care for our families.
What is your proudest moment?
It’s the day I had my daughter. She was more than I ever could have wished for and my loves grows for her more and more each day. She never ceases to amaze me with her strength and wisdom at such a young age. Having my daughter definitely made me a better person and she continues to shape my life to this day.
What is your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement is twofold. The day I graduated from Roosevelt University in Chicago and the day I had my daughter. I was the first person to graduate from college in my family. It was something I always knew I would do. I absolutely loved learning and still do! Sera on the other hand was truly a miracle, and I thank God for her every day.
What makes you happy?
I am happy each day that I am alive. I do not take my life for granted like before. I am also happy when I am spending time with my family and when I am following my passion. I spend most of my time at home or at Moffitt Cancer Center so our family pets — Olivia (our Siamese rescue from the Humane Society) and Snowie Angel (our West Highland Terrier) — give me great joy. I also love to give to others.
How do you relax and take time for yourself?
I relax and take time for myself every day. It’s something I never used to do, and if I tried, I would feel guilty. Developing leukemia has forced me to make a complete life shift. I now make myself and my life a priority. I make sure to get monthly facials and massages, as they help my achy body. I also do aquatic physical therapy twice weekly. When I am not doing those things, you can find me with my pets, babes, and hubby watching movies or reading and writing. I just love watching movies, old or new. Laughter truly is the best medicine, and I certainly love to laugh.
What kind of message would you like to give women in the area or in this community?
The message I would like to give the women in this community is that we all can make a difference. We don’t realize the true power that we carry within ourselves. You don’t need to be Oprah to help others and make a difference. We carry that power within each of us.
What else would you like to share with our readers? About being a mom? About your work?
Prior to my diagnosis, I was caught up in the “rat race” of life. My priorities were all out of alignment. I didn’t eat or sleep properly, and I certainly didn’t take care of myself. I was simply going through the motions, and I thought I was defined by my career. It wasn’t until I developed leukemia that I was forced to stop. I had time to reflect, redirect my life in a positive direction and finally take care of myself. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would have happened otherwise. I do not want others to have to suffer the same fate to turn their lives around and be healthier. We should not be defined by our careers. Our careers should be defined by who we are as a person and what we contribute to society. It may sound cliché, but life is so short. I hope that if you are reading this today, you pause and take time to reflect. Perhaps you are experiencing the very same thing. Take care of yourself and always make your physical and mental health a priority.
How do you enjoy or draw information from the magazine?
From the monthly calendar to keep our family up-to-date on the happenings in and around Tampa Bay to being exposed to businesses I wasn’t even aware of before to incredible and educational articles for parents, I share it with everyone I know, even if they don’t live in Tampa. The parenting articles transcend location. Parenting can be so much fun, but it also can be very challenging. It’s so refreshing to know we are not alone, and we are united by this unique periodical.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in the Tampa Bay area?
Our favorite things to do is shop (International Plaza, Citrus Park, Westshore Plaza) and go to the movies and the beach. My daughter went to Lowry Park Zoo School for camp five summers in a row and also was an intern. Our family absolutely loves animals and Lowry Park Zoo!
Who is your biggest inspiration or role model?
My greatest role model is my mother Sharon. She is the strongest woman I know. Despite facing such adversity and loss in her life, she still remains positive, loving, patient and strong and always has a smile on her face. She has taught me about independence, the power of forgiveness and standing up for what I believe in. My moral compass comes from my mother. She has been the greatest life teacher. If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today.