From Adversity to Achievement: Margie’s Inspiring Journey of Resilience and Triumph

Photo Credit: @hardphotosofficial 
Makeup by: @makeupbymimzz

Margie’s life story is an extraordinary saga of resilience, bravery, and unyielding determination. Hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia, as a minority ethnic Chinese Christian, she confronted the tumultuous 1998 riots targeting Chinese descendants during President Soeharto’s regime. Despite the adversities, Margie grew up alongside her two younger sisters and one adopted brother, fostering a bond of resilience and unity within her family.

In her personal life, Margie confronted the agony of two marriages marred by domestic violence. Nonetheless, she remains a devoted mother to her three children from her initial marriage, epitomizing love and compassion amid hardships.

In November 2022, Margie received a life-altering diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer, a blend of HER2 and ER positivity. Following surgery on April 7, 2024, she embarked on a new journey by fearlessly stepping into the realm of modeling in early March 2023, embracing empowerment and self-expression.

Professionally, Margie serves in Business Accounts at Boost Design, an avant-garde Sydney-based product design consultancy specializing in high-tech electronic and mechanical products in Leichhardt, NSW. Additionally, she flourishes as the Front of House at Nobu International Restaurant, nestled in Crown Sydney Tower, Barangaroo, where she exhibits her prowess in hospitality and customer service.

Margie’s professional trajectory is characterized by diversity and influence. She has held roles at esteemed organizations such as Deloitte Australia, where she assumed the mantle of Facility Management Coordinator, and the PICA Group, where she excelled as a Creditors Assistant-Solution Team member. Her professional repertoire also includes stints as an Assistant Fashion Designer for EVENTS fashion company and Trackmasters in Sydney, NSW. Margie has contributed to the medical domain as an eye surgeon assistant at Mascot Eye Specialist and as a medical assistant at Ashfield and Hornsby Medical Centers.

Her commitment to community service shines through her role as the Playgroup Coordinator and President of the Parents, Friends, and Community Association for St Vincent’s College in Ashfield, NSW. Margie’s academic pursuits include studying Hospitality Management at Trisakti Tourism Institute and completing diplomas in Clothing Production, Business Administration, and Accounting Bookkeeping at TAFE NSW.

Despite grappling with health adversities, Margie pursued her passion for fashion and modeling. She graced the runway at the LAKME fashion show in July 2023, merely 20 days post a significant cancer surgery in Malaysia. Margie actively fundraises for cancer charities such as the McGrath Foundation, aiding breast cancer patients, and the RRIC charity organization, supporting victims of domestic violence.

As a model, Margie collaborates with local fashion and beauty enterprises, showcasing Tan Ahkim’s hairstyles and collaborating with photographers, videographers, and makeup artists. She is a member of the Global Elite Media Model group and has been featured in international magazines and fashion shows. Margie’s advocacy for domestic violence awareness led to her being interviewed by the Shakti Sounds Podcast. Moreover, she secured the first runner-up position in the Ms. Australia 2024 category for the Australia Legacy International pageant, epitomizing strength and resilience on a global stage.

In addition to her professional endeavors, Margie operates a self-care business with Monat Global Corp., offering non-toxic hair care, skincare, and wellness products globally. She empowers individuals to prioritize their well-being and embrace self-care practices through her venture. You can explore and purchase these products through Margie’s link at Monat.

Margie’s tale stands as a testament to her unconquerable spirit, unwavering resolve, and dedication to effecting positive change in the world. Her odyssey inspires others to confront challenges with grace, resilience, and an unyielding determination to flourish despite adversity.

Your life story is incredibly inspiring and filled with resilience and determination. Can you take us back to your childhood in Jakarta during the 1998 riots and share how those experiences shaped who you are today?

My grandparents immigrated to Indonesia as first-generation Chinese immigrants, seeking refuge from the political climate in China. Raised as Chinese Indonesians, my parents instilled in me and my siblings a strong sense of identity and culture within Indonesian society.

As Chinese descendants in Indonesia, we found ourselves in the minority, often facing discrimination due to our ethnicity and religious beliefs. Restrictions, such as the inability to hold certain positions, highlighted the challenges we encountered as a marginalized group.

In May 1998, riots erupted under President Soeharto’s regime. As a high school student in Medan, North Sumatra, I witnessed the brutal targeting of the Chinese community. Men were subjected to violence, women were brutally assaulted, and many lives were lost in the chaos that ensued.

Forced to seek refuge in my boarding house, I narrowly escaped a harrowing encounter while attempting to return to Jakarta, where my family resided. The riots spread throughout Indonesia with a sinister agenda aimed at eradicating the Chinese population.

Despite the repeated occurrences of violence and discrimination against the Chinese community in Indonesia, we have persevered, though the scars of those tumultuous times remain. The resilience and determination forged during those dark days have shaped my character and fueled my resolve to stand against injustice and adversity.

While the shadows of the past may linger, I remain steadfast in my commitment to advocate for equality and justice, drawing strength from the resilience that has defined my journey.

You’ve faced challenges in your personal life, including domestic violence in two marriages. How have you managed to navigate through these difficult times while remaining a devoted mother to your children?

Honestly, there were moments when I felt overwhelmed and defeated. The memories of those experiences often brought tears and made it hard to see a way forward.

However, I pushed myself to keep moving forward, reminding myself that my children rely on me. I realized that my life is not just my own; it also belongs to my children and impacts their future.

Despite feeling like a failure and not being able to set a good example as a role model for my kids, I knew that I had to find the strength to persevere for their sake.

What advice would you give to someone currently experiencing domestic violence and seeking a way out?

When faced with domestic violence, I found myself at my lowest point, grappling with feelings of self-blame and inadequacy. The decision to leave my broken marriage was met with internal conflict, as societal norms and cultural expectations made it taboo to separate, especially as a Christian Asian woman.

The community’s harsh condemnation and tendency to blame women in such situations only added to the emotional burden. My family, too, was deeply affected by the trauma, and witnessing the psychological impact on my children was heart-wrenching as they withdrew from public life.

Seeking solace in therapy sessions, I embarked on a journey to overcome my trauma, striving to be present for my children while also focusing on providing for our livelihood. The loss of friends and the feeling of isolation reinforced the belief that no one cared for my well-being.

Breaking away from a community that labeled me as a widow, home wrecker, or worse was a necessary step towards reclaiming my sense of self-worth. Through prayer, self-care, and rekindling my career aspirations, I began rebuilding my life outside societal expectations.

Healing from the wounds of failed marriages is a gradual process, one that requires time, self-compassion, and a willingness to step outside one’s comfort zone. While the journey may be fraught with challenges, it is essential to remember that understanding and empathy can only truly be felt by those who have walked a similar path.

How do you think the legal system can improve its response to cases of domestic violence to protect survivors better?

Having personally experienced domestic violence in my failed marriages while raising three children, I believe there are critical areas where the legal system can enhance its response to better protect survivors:

1. Streamlined Legal Processes: Simplifying and expediting legal procedures related to domestic violence cases can ensure swift action and protection for survivors. Timely restraining orders and legal interventions can prevent further harm.

2. Increased Support Services: The legal system should provide comprehensive support services for survivors, including access to shelters, counseling, and legal aid. These resources are essential for survivors to navigate the legal process and rebuild their lives.

3. Trauma-Informed Approach: Training legal professionals to adopt a trauma-informed approach can help them better understand the complexities of domestic violence and its impact on survivors. This approach can lead to more empathetic and effective responses.

4. Collaboration with Community Organizations: Building strong partnerships with community organizations and support groups can enhance the legal system’s response to domestic violence cases. Collaborative efforts can provide survivors with a network of support beyond legal proceedings.

5. Child-Centric Policies: Recognizing the unique needs of children in domestic violence situations, the legal system should prioritize the safety and well-being of the children involved. Child custody and visitation arrangements should be made with the children’s best interests in mind.

By focusing on these areas, the legal system can better protect survivors of domestic violence, including those who, like me, have endured the trauma of abusive relationships while caring for their children.

Being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer must have been a life-altering experience. Can you tell us about the journey you’ve been on since receiving that diagnosis and how it has influenced your perspective on life?

Being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer was like a sudden storm that I never saw coming. As a single mom of three kids, a model with an unstable income, and someone who has survived two marriages marred by domestic violence, this diagnosis felt like the biggest blow life could throw at me.

The rapid progression of the cancer from stage 1 to stage 3 in such a short time was terrifying and left me feeling incredibly vulnerable. The prospect of undergoing a 9-hour surgery, including mastectomy and reconstruction, was daunting, to say the least. But I knew I had to fight, not just for myself, but for my children who rely on me.

This journey has reshaped my entire outlook on life. It has shown me the fragility of our existence and the importance of embracing every moment with gratitude and love. It has taught me to lean on my kids for strength and to appreciate the support of those who stand by me.

Despite the challenges I’ve faced, I am determined to beat this rare and aggressive cancer. I am determined to emerge from this experience with renewed purpose and resilience. I want to show my children that no matter how tough life gets, we can always find the strength to keep going and never lose hope.

Transitioning into the world of modeling after undergoing significant cancer surgery is remarkable. What inspired you to pursue modeling, and how has it impacted your journey of empowerment and self-expression?

As a single mom of three kids, facing financial instability, and having survived two failed marriages marked by domestic violence, the idea of becoming a model and public figure seemed like an unattainable dream. The comments from people about not fitting the mold of a perfect model only added to my self-doubt and insecurity.

However, after enduring the extensive 9-hour cancer removal surgery for stage 3 breast cancer with a rare and aggressive type, including mastectomy and reconstruction, I realized the true strength and resilience that I possess. The scars left behind by the surgery became a symbol of my battles and my determination to overcome obstacles.

The decision to pursue modeling post-surgery was driven by a desire to redefine beauty standards and empower others facing similar challenges. I wanted to show that beauty comes in all forms and that imperfections can be embraced as part of our unique stories. Modeling became a powerful tool for self-expression and empowerment, allowing me to showcase my inner strength and inspire others to embrace their own journeys.

Modeling has profoundly impacted my life, helping me reclaim my confidence and celebrate my authenticity. It has allowed me to break free from societal expectations and showcase a different kind of beauty – one that is rooted in resilience and self-love. Through modeling, I have found a way to share my story, uplift others facing adversity, and advocate for self-acceptance and empowerment.

Despite facing health challenges, you’ve actively fundraised for cancer charity organizations and advocated for domestic violence awareness. Can you share more about your involvement in these causes and why they are important to you?

As a single mom of three kids, a model with no stable income, a survivor of two failed marriages marked by domestic violence, and currently battling stage 3 breast cancer with a rare, aggressive type, the road has been incredibly tough. The upcoming 9-hour cancer removal surgery, including mastectomy and reconstruction, is daunting, especially without any family support here in Australia to help me during recovery.

Despite these immense challenges, I have found strength and purpose in actively fundraising for cancer charity organizations and advocating for domestic violence awareness. These causes hold a special place in my heart for several reasons. Firstly, my own journey with cancer has opened my eyes to the struggles faced by patients and the importance of support and resources. By fundraising for cancer charities, I hope to make a difference in the lives of those fighting this disease and contribute to research and support initiatives.

Additionally, having experienced the trauma of domestic violence in my past relationships, I understand the urgency of raising awareness and providing support to those in similar situations. Advocating for domestic violence awareness is crucial in breaking the cycle of abuse and offering hope and resources to survivors who may feel alone and trapped.

Despite my personal battles, I am committed to using my voice and platform to bring attention to these vital causes. Through fundraising and advocacy, I aim to create a positive impact, spark conversations, and inspire change in the fight against cancer and domestic violence. These causes resonate deeply with me, and I believe that by standing up and speaking out, we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by these issues.

Making your debut on the runway just 20 days after undergoing cancer surgery demonstrates incredible resilience. What motivated you to continue pursuing your passion for fashion and modeling during such a challenging time?

As a single mom of three kids, a model with an unstable income, a survivor of two failed marriages marked by domestic violence, and currently battling stage 3 breast cancer with a rare, aggressive type, the journey has been a true test of strength. The upcoming 9-hour cancer removal surgery, including mastectomy and reconstruction, added to the physical and emotional toll. Despite the challenges, I was determined to walk the runway just 20 days after surgery, even though my medical team advised against it and I needed a wheelchair to move around.

The motivation to continue pursuing my passion for fashion and modeling during such a challenging time came from a deep inner drive to defy the odds and show that beauty and strength come in many forms. Walking the runway represented more than just a modeling gig; it was a symbol of resilience, courage, and the power to overcome adversity. I wanted to inspire others facing similar battles, to show that even in the face of hardship, dreams can still be pursued, and passions can still be lived.

Despite my physical limitations and the doubts from medical professionals, I was fueled by a determination not to let cancer or any other obstacle define me. The runway became my stage to showcase the beauty of survival, the grace in resilience, and the importance of never giving up on your dreams. It was a moment of empowerment, a declaration of strength, and a reminder that even in the darkest times, there is always a glimmer of light to guide us forward.

Walking the runway post-surgery was not just about fashion; it was about embodying the spirit of perseverance and showing the world that no matter what life throws at you, you can still shine brightly and walk with confidence toward your dreams.

As a member of the Global Elite Media Model group, you’ve been featured in international magazines and fashion shows. How has being in the spotlight helped amplify your message of strength and resilience, particularly regarding domestic violence awareness?

As a single mom of three kids, a model with an unstable income, a survivor of two failed marriages marked by domestic violence, and currently battling stage 3 breast cancer with a rare, aggressive type, the journey has been filled with challenges. Despite these obstacles, being a GEM model and achieving the title of first runner-up as Ms Australia 2024 for the Australian Legacy International Pageant has provided me with a unique platform to amplify my message of strength and resilience, especially in raising awareness about domestic violence.

Being featured in international magazines and fashion shows through the Global Elite Media Model group has allowed me to reach a broader audience and share my story of overcoming adversity. The spotlight has given me a voice to speak out against domestic violence, shedding light on the importance of breaking the cycle of abuse and empowering survivors to seek help and support. Through my visibility in the fashion industry and pageant circuit, I have been able to advocate for change and inspire others to stand up against domestic violence.

My presence in the spotlight as a GEM model and pageant titleholder has not only elevated my personal brand but has also served as a platform to promote a message of resilience and empowerment. By sharing my experiences and journey, I aim to inspire others to find strength in the face of adversity and speak out against all forms of abuse. Together, we can work towards creating a world where survivors of domestic violence are supported, empowered, and encouraged to break free from harmful situations.

Through my visibility in the media and fashion industry, I hope to continue amplifying the message of strength and resilience, particularly in the realm of domestic violence awareness. By using my platform to advocate for change and inspire others, I strive to create a ripple effect of empowerment and support for those who may be silently struggling. Together, we can stand united against domestic violence and work towards a future where all individuals are treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.