For Janine Charron, the word represents many things: a nickname afforded her by her beloved grandfather; the animal whose fearlessness she demonstrated as an athlete; the acronym for her life’s philosophy, gleaned from circumstances including divorce, bankruptcy, and breast cancer.
“I truly believe in my heart that I’ve been given all of these experiences because this is what I’m supposed to do in the next phase of my life,”
the indefatigable brunette enthuses. “It’s to help other people get through adversity.”
Through speaking engagements, TV appearances, and podcasts (and maybe even a TED talk; we’ll see), Charron is helping people to cope with the onset of misfortune through the practice of self-leadership. Her trials and tribulations have taught her the sustaining values of personal inventory, accountability to others, and universal compassion, a way of life she awards the same nickname that her grandfather gave her. To translate these guiding principles into constructive energy, she has learned, is to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship with the world—or as she likes to put it, “Life shows up for you because you show up for it.”
For a whirlwind period, however, it seemed that every time Charron showed up for life, it checked her into the boards. Marriage to her first husband, a fellow athlete she met after playing NCAA Division 1 Women’s Hockey at the University of New Hampshire, dissolved. When Charron and her second husband—like her, an Ottawa native—decided to open a ballet barre-based fitness club in the Westboro area, they were met with the kind of unprecedented success for which young, inexperienced entrepreneurs are not prepared. When they expanded to Stittsville, both studios imploded—a scenario that soured the goodwill of the communities they served and that almost left the couple and their kids without a home. Then, hardest of all, came the cancer diagnosis. In May of 2020, Charron, all of 38 and in peak physical condition, discovered a lump in her breast.
“Had I been going through all of that crazy stuff with the fitness studios,” she says, looking back, “I would have just ignored it. I would have been too busy and too stressed out. So, I’m grateful that I was in a situation to make the call that day.” To say the least; within the month, Charron found out she had invasive ductal carcinoma, a stage one grade two tumour. She underwent mastectomies on both breasts and eventually, reconstruction.
In time, however, the concern of cancer visited again: Charron tested positive for a gene mutation making her susceptible to the ovarian variety. A year and a half on waiting lists later, Charron had her ovaries and fallopian tubes prophylactically removed as a precaution.
The support—from her family (including her mom, a retired nurse), medical professionals, and in particular, her social circle—was overwhelming. “I got five deliveries a day from different people,” she recounts, still marveling. “Flowers, books, cards, food…people came out of the woodwork.” Always the philosopher, she adds, “I truly believe that that was a return on the investment I had put into my life and the lives of other people.”
Hence the basis of her acronymic tenet: that reward follows a circular path. It’s a conviction Charron feels she was destined to dispense, even if that notion struck some of those closest to her as perverse.
“When I was first diagnosed,” she recounts, “I remember thanking the universe for my breast cancer. My mom said, ‘I don’t know what God you pray to, but I would never thank him for breast cancer!’ I had to explain that ever since I was a little girl, my vision was to have a big impact on people—and not from a place of ego. I truly felt that I was meant to help other people in some way, shape, or form, but I didn’t know what that was going to be. When I got diagnosed, I knew that that was the experience that was going to get me to finally be able to share my feelings and message with the people who needed to hear them.”
That message is the T.I.G.E.R Method,
which stands for…
I – In
E – Everything
R – Rises
And how’s this for its benefits: Today, Charron maintains a happy home, has reimbursed all outstanding fitness debts, and has survived her complicated cancer treatments. Further, she’s a certified speaker with New York’s Big Talk Academy, imparting T.I.G.E.R in person, in the media, online, and maybe soon, in a book.
“Magic happens when you challenge yourself to learn new ways of thinking,” she affirms. “Magic happens when you show up for other people. Magic happens when you take care of your body. Magic happens when you learn to understand yourself more deeply.”
Magic also happens when you encounter Janine Charron.
By Dan Lalande
Photography by Sean Sisk