Face of Hope, December 2014 – Hope Scarves Staff and Volunteers (Louisville, KY)

In the spirit of the holidays, the Hope Scarves staff decided to share what brings them hope and joy throughout the year. We’d like to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday and new year.

“I find hope in trail running, going on adventures with my three boys, laughter and science.” – Lara MacGregor, Founder

“I find joy in watching my young boys play and laugh, traveling and experiencing new adventures, and helping others. I find hope in the miracle of modern medicine and learning to live and enjoy each moment to the fullest.” – Amy Keller, Director

“People who stand up against injustice and violence, who are brave and full of peace in the face of despair or violence, these champions give me hope. I also find hope and joy in the beauty found in nature, in laughing with friends and family, and in simple moments that allow me to take a deep breath and feel connected.” – Erica Bricking, Program Coordinator

“Malala Yousafzai. People who “pay it forward” and expect nothing in return. Watching my children smiling, laughing and playing, as well as watching them sleep. Spending time with my family helps me focus on what is really important in my life and how very lucky I am.” – Katie Windham, Office Coordinator

“My family and friends, Watching my sons play soccer, a warm fire on a cold night.” – Lauren Stanbery, Friends of Hope Scarves Coordinator

Most wonderful time of the year

It was this time last year that I first starting experiencing back pain.  Of course I quickly dismissed it as a sports related injury and carried on with all the merriment of the holidays. I threw Jay a surprise 40th birthday party, attended Christmas parties, saw the nutcracker, baked Christmas cookies, traveled all over Michigan to spend time with family.  I was so happy.  Joyfully singing Christmas carols around the house and making our elf do all kinds of crazy things.  I love the holidays and a little back pain wasn’t going to slow me down.

This year I feel like I am watching the world celebrate and laugh and toast friendship & good health.  And I am kind of in a sort of daze.  Bogged down with anxiety of what will happen next.  Paranoid that each ache and pain I feel is another cancer tumor.  Tired and unable to multi-task like I always do.  Unmotivated to make 40 jars of granola for all our neighbors, teachers and friends. Avoiding making Christmas cookies because I don’t eat sugar anymore and that would just be torture. Living in this world, but not truly feeling it.  The warm fuzzy feeling I get when I light the Christmas tree and put on Christmas music isn’t here this year.  Instead I am fearful and anxious and sore and tired.

There are moments each day of happiness.  Usually involving being close to my boys – a snuggle on the couch, listening to them talk about something they are excited about, watching the three of them throw a football or seeing Bennett’s excitement when he takes off the advent calendar number…

Yet, the further away I get from my old self the more I miss it. You’d think it would get easier. But, right now at the holidays I am just really angry that our old life was taken away from us.  That I have to be intentional about being happy instead of just being happy.  I focus on optimism and hope as my go to coping mechanism.  I don’t know if it will extend my life, but It certainly will make the time I have more fun.  It’s just not always that easy.

Last Christmas I spent an afternoon with my friend Sandra while she got a chemo infusion right before Christmas.   I remember posting a picture of us together and encouraging others to remember those who are sick or afraid during the holidays.  Sandra died of metastatic breast cancer 5 months later.  I can still hear her sweet voice as we talked about our hopes for 2014.  She wanted to wear a fancy dress and dance with a handsome man. Neither of us could have imagined what 2014 would really bring.

That’s the hard part of living in uncertainty and facing a diagnosis that has no cure or finish life.  You live your life with hopes and dreams.  You make plans and carry on.  You look healthy.  There are no more meal trains or “team Lara” tshirts.   I am not “sick” right now… I should be so happy.  Yet I am livingly dying.

So this holiday – remember those who are weak or afraid.  Cherish your carefree laughter and all the running around that drives you crazy.  Don’t get bogged down with the peripheral stuff.  Focus on what matters, take time to feel the warmth and magic of the holidays and make exciting plans for 2015.

life is beautiful.


Excited to share that my PET scan today revealed no new cancer growth!! We are relieved beyond words to get this good news.

547fcd064db92144349f22a8Jay and I enjoyed a beautiful breakfast together with tears of joy and laughter. Then keeper and I went for a long trail run. Since it was 36 degrees and drizzling there weren’t many people in the park and I let her run free. She and I both couldn’t get enough of the fresh air and freedom. Free of the worry these scans bring and the fear of progression. Free of a leash that holds you back from being all you can be.

Tomorrow I am off to Chicago for a first annual God daughter trip with my sweet Edie (and her mama!) can’t wait for some girly fun and spoiling.

Living life to the fullest. In three month increments. It’s not easy, but it’s our life now and we are so thankful for good news today. My heart goes out to my sisters in this journey who are facing bad news, painful progression and fear of treatments not working. And my deepest hope for peace goes out to those who are close to the end of this journey and to the families of those who have lost loved ones. Facing cancer is a scary, hard thing. We are all in this together.

Thanks to everyone for your encouragement, prayers, jokes and calls. I feel surrounded by your love each step of this journey.

May Peace and hope surround you during the holidays and always. It certainly is all around our family!


my 4th pet scan in 2014… I have a glowing personality

On the crazy cycle of living with stage 4 breast cancer – tomorrow is a scan day.  I have a PET scan at 7:15am.   (deep breath. deep breath)

We are thankful for family friends (Charlotte & JC Stites and their family) who we can drop off two blurry eyed kids to at 6:45am and know they will be fed, loved and walked to school while we face another scan and whatever news it brings.  The boys are excited about this fun change in routine and we are rolling with it.  It also happens to be a “cancer awareness” day at school 547e79d6f02065285086d99bwhere kids can wear shirts supporting cancer organizations and show support for people they love.  In a reflection of how much our kids really do “get it” Wills decided he’d like to just wear his uniform.  “I don’t want to think about cancer either buddy,” I said, and explained that this was simply a nice way for our school to raise awareness for organizations like Hope Scarves and others helping support people with cancer. He said, “I still just want to wear my uniform.”  I get it Wills.  Bennett said he “wished he had a bomb that would blow up the cancer.” “I would just prick your finger and you’d just bleed one drop of blood, but I would shoot a bomb under your skin and it would find the cancer and blow it up without hurting you.”  If only Bennett.  If only!!

As with each turn of the scan-treat-repeat merry go round we appreciate your thoughts, prayers, good juju & positive energy tomorrow morning as I lay in that buzzing tube and then as we wait for the test results.  I am feeling good and hoping for more good news of stable disease or even better yet… no evidence of disease!  But, we are also prepared to face news of progression with the same determination and hope that we face each step of this journey.

Living life with stage IV metastatic breast cancer is slowly becoming our new normal and we are thankful for your support, encouragement and love along the way.

with hope,

Face of Hope, November 2014 – Danielle (Oak Park, IL)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I was introduced to Hope Scarves by Teresa, one of my closest friends. She was brave enough to walk into my life during my cancer treatment and support me through years of up’s and down’s.

2. If you shared a scarf with a loved one please share this experience and what it meant to you.

When I was going through my cancer treatment in high school a lady from the next town over sent me a hat she wore during her cancer battle. I wore that hat often and even once to a formal dance to cover my bald head. I felt her strength when I wore that hat and giving a scarf to Hope Scarves was an opportunity for me to give back.

3. What are the things that provided/provide hope and strength to you throughout your battle?

I found strength from my family, I am blessed, but I had come to expect that love and support. I also found strength from friends of friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Seeing people that did know me rally around me was overwhelming-something I did not expect. Some people wrote me letters, others prayed for me. I especially used that strength to battle cancer the second time when I was so very tired and wanted to give up.

4. Tell us about your cancer journey.

In my sophomore year in high school I was diagnosed with AML leukemia. I was 15 and at that time I did not know anyone with cancer. Mine had a 30% survival rate. I went through a year of chemotherapy and became very sick. I dropped out of school and spent my days on the pediatric floor of Rush Hospital in Chicago. I lost my hair and my old way of life. My mom stayed with me at the hospital eating the food trays I could not and sleeping in a chair next to my hospital bed. One year later I went into remission and returned to school, catching up with classes and friends. Gaining energy, growing hair and dating, I wanted to return to “normal”.

Unfortunately one year later I relapsed. The cancer had returned and I needed a bone marrow transplant. My only sibling was not a match, so we tried an experimental path of treating and using my own cells. During my treatment it was the little things that kept us going, a home cooked meal, a gift from a friend, or something funny that made us laugh. I have a strong family and community that supported us emotionally and financially. We are extremely grateful. That was 25 years ago. Today, I work for American Cancer Society assisting others going through their cancer journeys and raising much needed funds for cancer research.

5. What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?

I want others to know you can truly impact the life of another person with one dollar, one act of kindness, or one scarf.

6. What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending a Hope Scarf to a friend battling cancer?

Each scarf is more than a piece of fabric. The gift of a Hope Scarf sends a message that someone is thinking of you and cheering for you when you need it most. I personally know what that kind of gift can mean to someone going through treatment and that is why I am honored to be able to help Lara give back to others through Hope Scarves.

7. What is one of your dreams or goals for the future?

In the future I plan to open my own bed and breakfast.

8. What is your favorite inspirational quote or words to live by?

Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone, kindness in another’s trouble, courage through your own.

I also find solace in the lyrics of my favorite songs like: these are days you’ll remember, never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this, and as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true, that you are blessed and lucky…

9. If your friends or family had to describe you in two words, what would those be?

Strong and Passionate

10. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer – either as a survivor or as having a loved one with cancer.

I learned you must be your own advocate for your health care and equally important your emotional well-being.

There are many random acts of kindness that go un-noticed every day. Notice them, spread happiness when you can.

I am grateful to be alive, there are no promises for the future, don’t waste time.