Maggie- Ohio

This year, we will begin featuring stories from our collection as our monthly Faces of Hope. These stories show the common experience shared by people facing cancer, but they also illustrate the highly personal nature of storytelling, reflecting the unique thoughts, feelings, and language of their authors. By sharing these stories here, we hope their words will be an additional source of strength for our scarf recipients, help friends and supporters better understand what it’s like to hear, “you have cancer,” and be a source of inspiration for all who read them.

If you would like to see your story featured as a Face of Hope, please submit it here.

Maggie- Ohio

Maggie was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at age 33, and even though we recently received her story, it has been attached to 5 Hope Scarves. Maggie’s treatment occurred while pregnant and completing her dissertation for a doctoral degree in microbiology. Thank you for sharing your story, strength, and hope with others, Maggie!

Tell us a little about your diagnosis and what brought you hope during your treatment.

My husband and I had struggled to get pregnant for several years and finally, through fertility treatments, we conceived. We were thrilled. However, early on in the pregnancy I found a lump in my breast and brought it to the notice of the reproductive specialists, as I hadn’t yet been released to an OBGYN. They noted this in my file, but reassured me that breast changes are common during pregnancy and that I should follow-up with the OBGYN. I did so after a few weeks of waiting for an appointment. The OBGYN then referred me to breast imaging for an ultrasound (they didn’t want to expose my unborn child to radiation from the mammogram.) I knew something was wrong when the tech left the room and brought the doctor in to talk to me. This was followed by another appointment and a biopsy. I was reassured because of my age and fact that breast tissue changes when pregnant. This made me all the more devastated to receive the details over the phone (in the car) that it was cancerous. I was 17-weeks pregnant!

While being diagnosed with cancer while pregnant is devastating, and complicated due to fears and worries about your unborn child, it also gave me hope to think about my baby. I focused most of my energy on taking care of myself and doing what was best for both myself, as well as the baby. I took comfort in knowing that people before me had undergone surgeries and chemotherapy and went on to have healthy babies. I was also found hope in the support from others that I often received, sometimes from mere acquaintances, or awkward, but touching moments with strangers. The support was sometimes overwhelming, at least during my active treatment that I felt I could never give back enough to others what was given to me.

What was the hardest part of your cancer journey?

There are a few “hardest parts” of my cancer journey. For one, I was making decisions that affected by me and my unborn child, at least initially. I suppose this is still true today, but the feelings are less sharp and raw now that I have a birthed a healthy child. I also think some of the hardest moments have occurred after active treatment.  I was seeing my oncologist less and adjusting to my new life as a “cancer survivor” and all that this entails. During active treatment everyone was aware of my situation. But as time passed and treatment ends, people forget the trauma that I and others like me have endured. So it has been difficult to cope with all of the extra precaution and worries about my health that is part of the post-active treatment. I had to shift from experiencing an outpouring of assistance and care, to a more normal life, even though I still have many literal and figurative scars from the experience and must remain watchful for recurrence.

Please share any thoughts of words of encouragement for another woman going through treatment.

I found it easiest to take one step at a time and to try to focus on some of the more positive aspects of my life. Just because you have cancer doesn’t mean that you can’t have a happy and meaningful life. In some ways, cancer helped me re-frame some of my stressors and burdens into something more positive and meaningful. I think my worldview has also changed.. to some extent for the better. I am more empathetic with others and kinder to myself and I appreciated what I do have more than I did pre-diagnosis. Please know that there are others out there who have gone through pregnancy and cancer treatments and are currently thriving. If you are pregnant and dealing with a cancer diagnosis, you might consider reach out to some additional resources that I wish I had known about (https://www.hopefortwo.org/).

 

Jamie – California

This year, we will begin featuring stories from our collection as our monthly Faces of Hope. These stories show the common experience shared by people facing cancer, but they also illustrate the highly personal nature of storytelling, reflecting the unique thoughts, feelings, and language of their authors. By sharing these stories here, we hope their words will be an additional source of strength for our scarf recipients, help friends and supporters better understand what it’s like to hear, “you have cancer,” and be a source of inspiration for all who read them.

If you would like to see your story featured as a Face of Hope, please submit it here.

Jamie – California

Jamie was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at age 27, and her story has been attached to 15 Hope Scarves. Thank you for sharing your story, strength, and hope with others, Jamie!

Tell us a little about your diagnosis and what brought you hope during your treatment.

My husband and I got to hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time at a routine doctor’s appointment in February of 2007.  Everything checked out and looked great until my doctor asked whether I had any questions. “As a matter of fact, I do,” I replied. “What is this lump? Is it a milk gland, already?”

On Valentine’s Day, our worst fears were confirmed: I had triple-negative breast cancer. I was 14 weeks pregnant and 27 years old.  On that day, every goal and timeline I had carefully mapped out for our family and my career were thrown out the window.  Now my focus was only on the fight to make sure my baby would be born both healthy and happy; my own health and survival were secondary. One week after my diagnosis I began chemotherapy.  My oncologist prescribed a cocktail of medications that were known to be safe for the fetus because the drugs didn’t pass the placental barrier.  But that reassurance was difficult to grasp while sitting in an infusion chair for six hours.  Nonetheless, my baby that was growing inside of me, despite the hours and hours of chemotherapy he too endured, was a beacon of hope for me during treatment and beyond.

Our baby had nearly six months of chemotherapy with me before his early arrival on July 14, 2007.  Blake was born at a healthy 5 pounds, 9 ounces and will a full head of hair – more than I had, at the time, because of the drugs.  A week after his delivery, I returned to my aggressive chemotherapy schedule for another three months.  After that came the bilateral mastectomy, a series of six reconstructive and prophylactic surgeries.  Today, Blake is a healthy, vibrant seven-year-old and a constant reminder about what is truly important to me.

Please share any thoughts of words of encouragement for another woman going through treatment.

The power of hope truly kept me going during my two years of treatment and continues to push me forward years later. It can do the same for you. Hang onto loved ones and focus on getting better. Hope lives!!!

We asked Jamie to update her story- Here’s how she has turned heartbreak into hope:

Where I am today: My son, Blake, aka “chemo champ,” celebrated his half birthday today. Yep, he’s 12.5 years old. When I started this journey, on Valentine’s Day 13 years ago, I prayed for kindergarten. I asked God to let me see his first day of kindergarten. As the journey of parenthood goes, Blake is now taller than me, he thinks he is smarter than me (and he most definitely is on all matters technology), and he is closer in chronological age to being an adult than being a baby. My husband and I were talking about our (the collective “our” because he and my son have been there every step of the way with me) journey with cancer the other day. We were wondering “how the heck did we get here?” I was diagnosed with such an aggressive type of breast cancer, triple negative, that the odds were not in my favor. While I can’t begin to have an answer to this million dollar question, not a day goes by where my heart isn’t full of shear gratitude. Gratitude and hope. Much like the mission of Hope Scarves and the life being fully lived by its founder and my friend, Lara.
Working in the cancer community and surrounding myself with people from the cancer community, many whom I call my dearest of friends, and, all whom I call my ‘brother or sister,’ I see the reality of this disease. Despite it being 2020, we still have far too many people dying from cancer, far too many people living with intolerable side effects from treatment creating a substantially diminished quality of life, and too many people who are denied access to quality and timely care. I wake up every day with my brothers and sisters on my mind and a drive to find a cure for those living with metastatic cancer. And yet, I look at my own son, nearly a grown man, and I see the work of incredible organizations such as Hope Scarves, Triage Cancer, National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship, and Bag It, and I am live each day with gratitude and hope that we will continue to improve treatments, the quality of life for long-term survivorship, and will find a cure.
My family and I are living in San Diego where I am a Professor of Criminal Justice. I continue to practice law and volunteer as a Cancer Rights attorney and advocate to improve access to care and survivorship outcomes.

With Hope and Gratitude,

Jamie

Tammi – Texas

This year, we will begin featuring stories from our collection as our monthly Faces of Hope. These stories show the common experience shared by people facing cancer, but they also illustrate the highly personal nature of storytelling, reflecting the unique thoughts, feelings, and language of their authors. By sharing these stories here, we hope their words will be an additional source of strength for our scarf recipients, help friends and supporters better understand what it’s like to hear, “you have cancer,” and be a source of inspiration for all who read them.

If you would like to see your story featured as a Face of Hope, please submit it here.

Tammi – Texas

Tammi was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer at age 39, and even though her story was recently submitted it has already been attached to 6 scarves. Thank you for sharing your story, strength, and hope with others, Tammi!

Tell us a little about your diagnosis and what brought you hope during your treatment.

On February 26th 2019, I was given a diagnosis of endometrial adenocarcinoma. When I applied for Medicaid, they told me I did not have the right type of cancer to get the Medicaid (there is a breast and cervical cancer Medicaid.) I applied for Social  Security hoping and praying to get approved for the medical part most importantly. Then in June, I started having so much pain, I was going to the emergency room every four to seven days for pain medication refills basically and they would treat the immediate pain. Then in September, I decided to drive two hours to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. I went to their emergency room and they were so quick and kind hearted. I was – and still am- amazed at everyone’s level of care that they showed to me. They admitted me to get my pain under control, and they finally did the cervical biopsy that I needed so badly. They also did a CT scan, MRI, pet scan, blood work, and they found that I have a pelvic mass. They called it “malignant neoplasm of cervix uteri” … so I asked what my primary cancer is since I have endometrial cancer, they said I have Stage 3B cervical cancer. Also the mass has grown to block my urethra, so I had get a nephrostomy tube inserted in my right kidney. That is where things stand right now. I do have a few people helping me at this point, so I kind of see a light at the end of this tunnel.

What was the hardest part?

I have found it difficult feeling the frustration of just knowing I have cancer and it seems like no one wants to help. I’m still struggling and fighting to get insurance.

Please share any thoughts or words of encouragement for another woman going through treatment.

I know how it feels to sit alone in silence with the thought that most of us facing cancer may have: “Am I going to die or am I going to beat this?” It’s hard, but cry when you need to, yell when you need to and don’t be afraid to talk about what you are feeling. It’s ok to be scared, but never give up! You have to fight for yourself you have to fight for the people who love you! You can do this.

Board of Directors & Friends of Hope Scarves

For the month of December, we wanted to show our gratitude for the dedicated people that support our organization throughout the year. We have highlighted our steadfast weekly volunteers who make sure Hope Scarves are selected and mailed each week, and we focused on the many groups and organizations who attend our monthly nighttime “Sips and Scarves” as well as Employees at businesses who have invited us for a Day of Service. Finally, we would like to honor our Friends of Hope Scarves committee members who launch our annual event, Colors of Courage, and our Board who help steer and support. We thank you all! 

Hope Scarves Board & Friends of Hope Scarves

Board of Directors 

As a nonprofit organization, a committed and engaged Board of Directors is essential to successfully fulfilling our mission. At Hope Scarves, our Board goes far beyond governing – they engage in a storytelling workshops, volunteer at Hope Scarves events, enhance our connection to the Louisville community, and bring countless others into the Hope Scarves family as scarf recipients, donors, volunteers, sponsors, and friends. In 2020, our Board will be tasked with dreaming about our future as we start strategic planning. We’re grateful for their visionary leadership as we turn big possibilities into goals and goals into action.

 

Friends of Hope Scarves

Everyone wants a team they know they can count on- the Friends of Hope Scarves are the volunteers we call when we need a skilled team planning larger projects like Colors of Courage and smaller events like Bites and Bubbles. They have dedicated countless hours to making sure every detail of each event is planned and executed to perfection, taking on each task with camaraderie and a smile. Most of the individuals serving as Friends of Hope Scarves have spent years volunteering with our organization, and they never hesitate to share their passion for Hope Scarves within the community.

Thank you again to all our volunteers.

We’re grateful you’ve shared your

time, stories, talents, and hearts with us.