Sarah – West Orange, NJ

March 2018

We met Sarah at a yoga retreat for breast cancer survivors in Montana. Her big heart and passion for living life is inspiring to us all! Plus, this picture. Bad a$$. #hennahealingarts

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer.  

I teach student success to college freshmen, and am a co-author of a student success book entitled Keys to Success. I love helping students to understand their gifts and talents. I emphasize the rewards that come from productive risk-taking – if they risk spending time and effort to learn and grow, they can earn the reward of personal success as well as the reward of making a difference in some corner of the world.

What brought you hope as you faced cancer?

The people who supported me, cared for me, and lifted me up – my family, my friends near and far, and my medical team. Friends and family brought me hope through their calls and notes, gifts of food and blankets and books and movies, and all the ways they helped me and my husband and children, from taking kids for sleepovers to raking our leaves to getting me out for a walk. My medical team brought me hope through their constant care and vigilance. Even when my appointments involved stressful tests and treatments, being surrounded by knowledgeable people who understood my condition calmed me down, and I gained confidence from the tangible actions taken to fight my cancer.

How do you live life over cancer?

So much of living life over cancer is letting go of what I cannot control (which is a lot). I try to manage the few things I CAN control – exercise, food, preventative medication. So I find some way to move every day; I eat a healthy diet as best I can; and I take Arimidex. I also try manage stress with self-care, which is tough to do for a busy working parent, but I do what I can – I practice yoga, I take “brain breaks” to lie down and meditate for a few minutes when things get overwhelming, I listen to music, I walk in the woods, and I talk with caring friends and family.

How did you become connected with Hope Scarves? 

In May of 2016, I was fortunate to attend the Cowgirls vs. Cancer retreat through the kindness of Margaret Burns Vap and Big Sky Yoga Retreats, and met fellow guest Lara MacGregor, the Hope Scarves founder. We ended up sharing a room and I could not have asked for a more wonderful roommate. Throughout the weekend we all bonded over shared experiences and personal stories. Our bond continues on and I welcome any opportunity to support Lara and Hope Scarves.

What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?

I would like to emphasize that Hope Scarves donates a portion of its donations to its Metastatic Cancer Research Fund. Metastatic cancer patients deserve attention and hope, and metastatic cancer needs more focus, time, and research dollars. Hope Scarves is doing its part to make all of that happen.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending a Hope Scarf to someone facing cancer?

Once you become aware that a friend is facing cancer and must undergo treatment that may result in hair loss, make sending a Hope Scarf one of the first things you do. Not only is it a tangible, beautiful, practical gift, it carries the energy and hope of others who care and who understand.

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

I hope to get better and better at living each day to the fullest. I want to set assumptions and expectations aside on the way to uncovering my most authentic self.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” – Dorothea, Middlemarch, George Eliot

If your friends or family describe you in a couple of words, what would they say?

Passionate and compassionate…driven, caring and kind.

Please share something you learned facing cancer.

I learned that almost nothing is worth getting worked up over, because tomorrow is not guaranteed. The present moment is a gift to be lived today, now, to the fullest. I will also tell you that I have to re-learn this lesson ALL the time, because the way we live pushes us so hard toward anxiety about the future or rumination about the past. So I remind myself constantly: “You do not know what tomorrow brings, or what an hour from now brings, but you have the gift of NOW. Appreciate it. This doesn’t mean you have to change the world with every minute you live. It just means you can be fully present for each minute when it arrives, and receive whatever it has to give you.”