Victoria Soudaros – California
Victoria “Vatsany” Soudaros is an immigrant from Laos. She loves to travel, eat, shop, and is a chef at heart. She is half Laotian and Thai. In 1979, Victoria’s family was sponsored for asylum as political refugees from Laos to the U.S. by a Lutheran Church. Victoria has loved fashion and food since the age of 5. She developed this love of food from her mother and sisters. Although her single mother struggled to raise her three daughters below the age of 8 upon arrival to America, she provided comfort to them in the cooking of Southeast Asia. After graduating from high school, Victoria moved to Orange County, California, to pursue her dream of working in the fashion industry. Although accepted to the University of California Irvine, she chose to attend The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. In 1999, Victoria graduated with an Associate of Arts in Merchandise Marketing and achieved her dream of working in fashion. Over the following 15 years, she was employed by several iconic brands such as Levi’s, Cole Haan, Movado, and Calvin Klein, working her way up the corporate ladder. Her passion and work ethic led to many different roles, including the trainer, sales representative, recruiter, and visual merchandise manager.
Many call Victoria a cancer warrior. She was diagnosed with stage 3 gastric cancer in 2015. With the grace of God and a team of talented doctors, Victoria tackled this dreadful disease in 2016. In the face of this adversity, she found the inspiration to create a food blog with recipes tailored explicitly for chemotherapy patients. She also was inspired to complete her formal education and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Management from Point Loma Nazarene University. For the first time in her life, she did not know what challenge was next. God apparently chose one for her because the disease returned full force in late 2017. The following year was filled with many visits to the ER, three surgeries, and eight more chemotherapy treatments (following the two previous surgeries and 12 chemotherapy sessions in 2015-16).
Gastric cancer has struck Victoria twice, but that’s not stopping her from fighting or living. Her cancer story has yet to end. She currently is receiving targeted immunotherapy treatment out of Los Angeles, California. Victoria is participating in a clinical trial for her specific type of gastric cancer. From this series of recurrences, Victoria found her purpose. She decided to retire from fashion to give back and become a Patient Speaker Advocate. Victoria’s mission and goals are to inspire others by sharing her story and providing support. This disease taught Victoria that our minds are more powerful than we know, that the power of positivity goes a long way, and that one must have faith and strength to heal. Victoria intends to connect with and support as many cancer and ostomy patients as possible. For Victoria, it is not only about seeking a cure but about living in the present with positivity while helping those in need. Victoria was referred to Debbie’s Dream Foundation by her doctor and joined DDF as a PREP Mentor in April of 2019. If you would like to follow her journey, she can be found on Instagram and Youtube @VCrushesCancer.