Employee portrait: Ivette G
This portrait is part of a series produced each month, to celebrate the plurality and inclusion that Bota Bota wishes to continue promoting.
“We all have the potential to be whoever we want to be.” Ivette, massage therapist at Bota Bota for 3 years knows what she is talking about.
Originally from Bogota, Colombia, she grew up surrounded by her family and loved ones. “It’s a big city with a lot of movement and traffic… I knew it wasn’t for me.” At 20 years old, helped by her mother, Ivette left her country to take on the world. It was in South Korea that she first put down her bags, to begin working as a volunteer. “It’s a whole different culture from mine. It was a real shock, but it’s a country that has taught me a lot about myself. “
Following this formative year, the call of the unknown was felt once again. This time, she headed for Europe, to Paris. “I had a blast in my twenties, it was a really great experience.” During this 3 ½ year stay, she became a physiotherapist’s assistant.
A series of diverse experiences followed, back in Colombia and then England, where Ivette worked with children with cerebral palsy. “It was difficult, but rewarding,” she recalls. It was in England that she met her husband, who, from then on, joined her on her many journeys.
In 2013, Ivette moved to Canada with the firm ambition of obtaining her massage therapy degree. She worked with children as an educator, as well as in a physiotherapy clinic, “But I wanted to be in an environment like Bota Bota. I was a customer and loved the place. I told myself I’d work there someday.”
In 2016, an unexpected adventure knocked at her door. Ivette got diagnosed with breast cancer. “It was difficult, tiring, very painful. I realized that my body was vulnerable,” she explains. Despite the hardships, she decided to see this situation as a learning curve, “It was an experience that made me grow.”
“My case was taken with a lot of responsibility, I felt very surrounded by doctors,” she says, before pointing out, however, a loneliness that can only be felt by those affected by the disease. “My femininity was wounded. I removed the mirrors in my house for several years. I’ve just only recently added a full-length mirror in my home,” she admits with a laugh. “With hair loss, we see ourselves as helpless. But it’s also beautiful at the same time because we get to rediscover ourselves”. Her husband was the one who shaved her hair off, an experience that in no way changed his attitude towards her, “He showed me his love, even though my physique was changing. It was then that I realized that unconditional love exists. It was really beautiful”.
In 2017, Ivette joined the Bota Bota crew. A dream that finally came true. “I was in remission. It was a time in my life when I needed to find myself and work with people who shared the same passion as me “. Over time, her colleagues became her friends, and they guided her through this new stage of her life, by her side.
“Our job is a job that works on the body, the physique, but also supports the person, in their emotions and feelings. It’s a great career”. Her cancer has given her the gift of listening to others, “I am more sensitive to how other people feel. Because I have had an experience of illness, but also because it is a profession that reaches out to and accompanies others and is based on empathy. Whether for a short amount of time or a more in-depth moment”.
Today, Ivette questions the subject of health a lot, “In order to maintain it, it is important to have love, gratitude and happiness every day.” Living in the present, according to her, is the best way to anticipate the future, “We have everything in us to be happy and have a good life”. The current global situation is no exception, “It’s during times like these that you learn the most. We must take advantage of these circumstances to refocus and share with others”.
“Life is a school: there are different grades of learning but we experience the same things at different times in our lives.”