1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?
I have joked that I am the original “scarf wearer.” Five years after I went through treatment for breast cancer I heard about Lara McGregor through a mutual friend. After hearing that she was going through treatment while 7 months pregnant, I had to send her something. So I sent her a box of scarves and a short note hoping it would provide her a little encouragement. From there, Lara passed those scarves to someone she met at a conference who was going through treatment and the idea for Hope Scarves was born.
2. 2. If you donated a scarf please share what this experience meant to you or if you received a scarf and story please share how this impacted your healing journey?
I never could have imagined what one good deed would turn into with Lara’s vision. In October, I was able to go see Hope Scarves for myself and meet some of the women who received scarves. I was touched by the women saying wearing the scarves was a “badge of courage” and that they earned the right to wear them. Many of them said it gave them strength knowing that someone else wore that scarf and survived. The idea is simple, but the message of hope is one that no one can put into words. Hope may be the only thing that people, who are fighting for their lives, may have.
3. What are the things that provided hope and strength to you throughout your battle?
My family and friends definitely helped me during my battle with breast cancer. They never let me get too down and always encouraged me to live as normal of a life as possible through it all. My sister also gave me a journal soon after I was diagnosed. I had never written in a journal before, but I was able to write down my fears and thoughts during that time. It allowed me a place to be honest and not have to worry about what someone else would think or how my fears may my loved ones feel. I tried to give myself a few minutes a day to feel sad or angry and then I had to move on and try to live my life without dwelling on those fears.
4. Where are you currently in your life after cancer? Tell us about your hobbies, interests, family and what is going on these days.
I am currently 11 years cancer free, which feels amazing. In many ways I feel I have truly put that part of my life behind me. My husband and I now have 2 beautiful children that we were told 11 years ago we could not have. I love to spend time with the kids playing outside and I have recently started taking photography classes. Life feels normal now. I look back at that time and I am grateful that I went through it. I am stronger than I ever thought I was and I feel I have the ability to keep life in perspective. I know what is truly important.
5. What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?
After going to Louisville and meeting Lara, I would say it is truly an organization built from love. Hope Scarves is doing the work it set out to do-Provide hope and encouragement to those facing a tough battle ahead.
6. What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending a Hope Scarf to a friend battling cancer?
People often ask me what they can do to help someone who is facing cancer and it is not always easy to think of things that can help. A gift from Hope Scarves is a perfect way to show you care and offer encouragement to someone who needs it.
7. What is something that you would like to do that you haven’t done yet? (ie. Bucket List)
I love to travel so there are many places I still want to see like Spain, Portugal and Bora Bora. I am also working on writing a children’s book that I would love to see published one day. A personal goal would be to run a marathon (I better get going on starting that one). But mostly, I just want to enjoy the everyday things with my family.
8. What is your favorite inspirational quote or words to live by?
I love quotes and words of inspiration. The Serenity Prayer was very helpful while I was going through breast cancer. I would recite it to myself silently while I was getting chemotherapy. I was also moved when a stranger came up to me at the mall, when I was bald and looking pretty sickly and told me, “You can do this.” Those words have helped me through many difficult times. Today, I love to pin my favorite quotes on Pinterest. Some of them are funny and some of them are reminders to myself to keep things in perspective. Today I love the quote from Mother Theresa who said, “Do small things, with great love.”
9. If your friends or family had to describe you in two words, what would those be?
It may depend on the day, but I would say compassionate and genuine.
10. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer.
Facing a life altering event has to change you in some way. As I get further away from it, I forget that it had such an impact on me. I have felt what the words, “You have cancer,” can do. Your everyday life stops in that moment like hitting the pause button, and then after that you get to restart. I think the biggest impact it has had on me is I know I am strong, I know I can endure things that I never imagined. I wake up grateful for the battle scars and look forward to whatever comes my way.