With a goal to empower and connect, Carlene shares her story. She embraces the similarities and differences of every survivor’s story.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer.
I am a mentor for an organization that empowers youth and young adults in Kenya through training them to be yoga instructors. I have been working with the same young man since he was 17 and to watch him grow from a boy to a man has been a great honor for me. I have dreamed all these years about taking my own family to Kenya and then this past winter both my kids went on a school trip (without me) and managed to find Lucas and have lunch with him! My monthly Skype calls with him have been as empowering for me as I hope they are for him!
What brought you hope as you faced cancer?
The people I have known throughout my life that have been diagnosed with cancer brought me hope and resolve. I was 15 when my mother died of colon cancer and it is an experience that has shaped so much of who I am. I knew there was so much hope and promise in the treatment of my cancer compared to my mother’s journey so long ago. I also knew that how I went through this would directly affect my children and would be an experience they could grow from. My goal and what brought me both resolve and clarity was that my children see hope in my journey. No matter where I was in my surgeries or treatment, life is not about cancer, it is about living.
How do you live life over cancer?
To be honest, I am still finding my way. I have met the most amazing people through this journey. My life over cancer is to be of service to others. I have found the most powerful connection through sharing my experience with others and listening as they share their own. This experience of cancer can be so different for each of us yet there are so many connections. I want to live my life in a way that strengthens others when they need it, raises awareness and helps fund the remarkable research that is happening and still needs to happen.
How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?
I met Lara (Hope Scarves founder) at a retreat in Montana for women who have gone through or are still in treatment for breast cancer. Lara told us about her mission with Hope Scarves and we each shared our story for Lara to use and send with a scarf. I have watched Lara’s vision continue to grow and touch others in the most profound way over the past year. It has been an honor to witness.
What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?
So many people ask me “what can I do to help?” when they find out someone they love is diagnosed or going through treatment. My advice is, if something touches your heart, share it. If you feel like cooking a meal or picking kids up from soccer, do it! If you see something thoughtful that you think will add light to someone’s day, do it. The idea of getting a beautiful scarf in the mail with a message of hope and love from another woman who has traveled your path is amazing! What an opportunity to reach out to someone in a connected way!
What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending a Hope Scarf to someone facing cancer?
If you are thinking it, you should do it. Sending a scarf and story of hope is such a heart-centered way to send hope and love. So many people put their love and good energy into the scarves, the stories and even the packaging that how could you not feel that on the other end. Opening that scarf and note may be just what the recipient needs in that moment. I think it’s all about connection. Imagine opening a gift sent from a friend but put together by so many others. The message is, you are not alone!
What is one of your dreams or goals for the future?
My goal is to continue connecting with others and empowering people on their journey.
What is your favorite inspirational quote?
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. -Khalil Gibran
If your friends or family had to describe you in a couple of words, what would they say?
I think they would say I am sensitive and I get things done!
Please share something you learned facing cancer.
I learned I can handle this. There are ups and downs. There are scary times and times of heartbreak but, I can do it. I learned a lot about myself and ultimately see the strength and perseverance within. I am so thankful for that. I learned that connection is fuel for the soul.
Here are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)