Where They Are Now: ft. Eden Filinov
How often does someone end up in a career that they dreamed about having since they were a child? Many people slowly find other interests as they grow older, but Eden Filonov, who always wanted to work in a field that helped others, stayed true to her dream. Doing so, however, come as a result of a major health crisis…
In life, many of us have goals that we hope to achieve. For some people, the goals are so far reaching, that they are more like dreams. For other people, the goals are small and doable, something to look forward to. But for people who experience life-threatening situations, goals take on new meaning. They give people purpose for a future they hope to reach. Those same achievements that are part of the natural order of things for an average person can be more difficult to reach for someone who has been sick. Simple goals have to be met – baby steps in essence – before larger ones can be met. For someone like Eden, goals are never taken for granted because she knows the risk of losing it all.
One morning, soon after Eden turned 15, she woke up blind and her life turned upside down. She became very sick and dealt with many health challenges, eventually resulting in a major surgery — receiving a kidney at the age of 23.
While the 10-year experience happened during pivotal times of growth and was extremely taxing, it allowed Eden to narrow in on one of her childhood passions: helping people. When she was sick, Eden was close with a social worker who was a calming presence and was always there to help during the toughest moments, such as diagnoses and conversations with doctors. This social worker was a support person for Eden and inspired her to pursue her post-secondary studies in the field. In June 2018, Eden graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Social Work. This was a goal Eden had looked forward to for years, and accomplishing it was a huge moment in her life. Eden immediately put her degree to use at a local organization where she works as a social worker, helping people daily.
Work, however, is not the only way Eden helps people. When she was living through her illness, Eden remained quiet about what she was going through. It is one thing to be experiencing it, but having to talk about what her days looked like and how her body felt is a whole other story. But moving on and becoming healthy has allowed Eden to reconcile with her past and share her story with the public, especially people going through similar experiences. Eden knows the value that words of encouragement can have for someone about to go into surgery or who is dealing with dialysis, because she herself received that, and being able to being able to return the kindness is very rewarding. People whom Eden reached out to, who live all over the world, helped her stay calm about pre- and post-surgery, and to this day, Eden is still in touch with them. They live in Australia, LA, NY and one of them is even a famous model. Having a global support system is unique and Eden is blessed to be a part of one.
Only 26 years-old, Eden has experienced much more than the average person can even imagine. Even though she can choose to look at things through a negative light or try to forget all about them, she does not, and instead, is thankful for it all. Every scary diagnosis, complication and surgery has allowed Eden to become the inspiring person that she is today.
“I’m so happy where I am today, where I am right at this moment, that I wouldn’t change anything because I don’t know how it would impact where I am now.”
The last 10 years have given Eden her career, current relationships that she has with people, an infinite amount of strength, resources on how to deal with tough situations and most importantly, perspective. That is why she can meet every day with a smile; she understands that each day is a blessing that is not to be taken for granted. Even during a global pandemic, Eden is able to keep a positive outlook thanks to the perspective her past illness has given her. While the pandemic has been challenging, Eden still wakes up, Eden still wakes up healthy every morning, has friends and family she can connect with through social media platforms, can go on walks with her dogs and bask in the sun. That is a lot to be thankful for.
We, at Chai Lifeline, are so proud of Eden and everything she has accomplished, but Eden feels the same about Chai. Fellow clients, volunteers and staff inspire Eden every day and she knows that she will always be connected in one way or another. According to Eden, “Chai Lifeline is the support of family, but comfort of friends.” Without Chai, Eden would not have been able to accomplish some of her goals—adopting a dog, graduating university, getting a job—so she cannot even put into words what it means for her.
The most recent goal Eden has accomplished was getting accepted into a Master of Social Work program, which she will be starting in the fall. We are so excited for Eden and cannot wait to see her continue to do great things!