Alana – Louisville, KY

Alana is a musician, a mom and a story donor. Following her daughter’s lead, she is organizing a scarf drive for Hope Scarves in celebration of her daughter’s 9th birthday.

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

I am a percussionist (I play the drums!) You can see me perform with the Louisville Winds.

What brought you hope as you faced cancer?

I was awed by the amazing support I got from my family, friends, colleagues and students. (When I was out for my mastectomy, the school where I taught actually sold pink spirit shirts that said “We support Mrs. A-P”) And, of course, I couldn’t have done it without my husband’s unwavering encouragement, and the love of my then 3-year-old daughter.

How do you live life over cancer?

I am taking time off from my career to focus on myself. I joined the YMCA Livestrong program and changed my diet significantly. I am now in better shape than I was pre-cancer! I am able to spend time volunteering at my 8-year-old daughter’s school, as well as with her Girl Scout Troop. I travel often with my family and close friends, most recently on a cruise to Alaska, and this summer heading to Bermuda. I spend time sewing and working on crafts that I always loved, but never had time for. (I actually have an entire craft room in my basement now!) Most importantly, I spend every moment I can with those that I love, and enjoy every day to the fullest!

How did you become connected with Hope Scarves? Whether you received, sent or donated a Hope Scarf, what did this experience mean to you?

I met Lara through various breast cancer events. Hope Scarves was fairly new when I was going through chemo in late 2012-2013, so I never received a scarf. However, since then, I have seen what an impact it has made on others, and am happy to have shared my story. It makes me proud to think that my story may offer hope to someone else. My daughter’s 8th birthday is this month, and she has decided to ask her friends to bring scarves to the party instead of gifts. And I will be donating a very special scarf that belonged to my Aunt Gail. As I was finishing chemo in 2013, we got the news that she had late stage renal cancer. She was so vibrant and loved by everyone, so when she was gone by December, I was devastated. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders, and I think it’s time to pass on her scarf to someone else who might need a cheerleader now more than me. She would want that.

What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?

I want people to know that Hope Scarves is available for anyone fighting any type of cancer. And for those of us who have been through it, we can tell you that receiving a meaningful gift like this is monumental.

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

Send the scarf to your friend because it gives super powers.  Not all super heroes wear capes, some of us wear scarfs.

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

Obviously, my dream is to be cancer-free, but regardless, my goal is to be as much of an example as I can, to my daughter and others, on how to embrace life and take control of the parts of your life and health that you can.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

Don’t just survive, THRIVE!

If your friends or family had to describe you in a couple of words, what would those be?

Strong and motivated.

Please share something you learned facing cancer.

I have learned that cancer is not something you beat. It’s a never-ending journey to be your best self.