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.

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Face of Hope, October 2014 – Maggie (Ellicott City, MD)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

Lara contacted me through Facebook and offered to send me a scarf.

2. If you received a scarf and story please share how this impacted your healing journey?

Receiving my hope scarf was a wonderfully warm experience. It was very thoughtful of Hope Scarves to select a breast cancer survivor who was in her twenties like me. The story behind the scarf was very inspirational and reminded me that I am not alone in this journey. It has given me strength and hope which is what everyone in treatment needs.

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

Staying focused on a positive outcome
Family and Friends
Prayers and messages of support and encouragement on my Facebook page

4. Where are you currently on your cancer journey? Tell us how you are living life over cancer.

I have completed half of my chemo treatments; three treatments remain. I expect to complete chemo by mid-October. Surgery will follow.

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

It is a terrific organization that connects cancer survivors with current cancer patients in a very positive way. Too often newly diagnosed cancer patients get negative messages about their prognosis and give up hope. It is very uplifting to connect with a cancer survivor and to receive a scarf worn by that person. The Hope Scarf is one of my favorites and I am honored to wear it. It helps me channel positive healing energy whenever I have it on.

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

During the months of treatment, there is very little to look forward to. Getting a surprise package in the mail really helps to lift the spirits, particularly when it is something as meaningful as a scarf that a cancer survivor wore during treatment. Along with the scarf was a personal note of encouragement from the former owner of the scarf which was a very nice touch that connects you to that survivor.

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

Beat cancer
Get back to dancing full time and move back to NYC
Grow Bald Ballerina into a non-profit foundation that provides grants for medical and living expenses for dancers with cancer

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

I have two sayings:
1. The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain! –Dolly Parton
2. For visualizing my cancer cells leaving my body: Another One Bites the Dust- Queen Song

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

Kind and Determined

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

Never give up. There are always cancer patients who defy medical statistics and live much longer than expectations.

Photo By Luis Ponsbald ballerina_scarf

Face of Hope, September 2014 – Caroline (Louisville, KY)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

After I began my chemotherapy for stage IIIA breast cancer, a friend brought me a Hope Scarf bracelet and told me all about Lara MacGregor and the mission of Hope Scarves. I emailed Lara and we have not only become friends, she has inspired me to become intimately involved in raising awareness and funding research for metastatic breast cancer.

2. If you donated a scarf please share what this experience meant to you or if you received a scarf and story please share how this impacted your healing journey?

I have been on both the receiving and giving end of the traveling scarves. I received my first scarf, along with instructions on how to tie the scarf, which I loved, because I had no clue! I was so anxious about losing my hair and how I would look. The story of hope that came with the scarf made me feel like I was not alone, and seeing the smile on the face in the photo made me feel stronger. I gained a lot of personal growth during my year in treatment for breast cancer. Passing along the scarf and hope to someone else lifted my spirit in so many ways.

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

My faith is the greatest thing that has provided me hope and strength throughout my battle with breast cancer. When I was diagnosed the month before my 40th birthday, my friends all got together to show their support. My husband presented me with a necklace engraved with my first initial “c”. When I showed up to the pool that weekend, all of my friends were all wearing that same necklace and it helped me feel surrounded by support. I am very blessed to have such great friends.

4. Where are you currently on your cancer journey? Tell us how you are living life over cancer.

I completed my final radiation treatment on Valentine’s Day 2014. Shortly after that time, I began participating in a clinical trial for ER+ Breast Cancer patients. I will be on the study for one full year. I have also started a non-profit called Twisted Pink whose mission is to exclusively fund metastatic breast cancer research providing a link to a cure.

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

My true wish is to put Hope Scarves out of business and to end cancer forever. I want people to know that the very person who brought hope to others via Hope Scarves, even though she is among the 20-30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer who experience metastasis, she is still smiling and continues to provide hope, awareness and inspiration to others. It is my complete honor to partner with Hope Scarves on this mission see this site.

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

Do not hesitate! Don’t even ask, just do it!

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

See question 5 above! Same answer.

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

John 15:5 states “I am the vine, you are the branches”. This quote from the bible keeps me grounded and reminds me that I am here to do Gods work, not fulfill my own agenda.

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

My daughter, age 12, wrote me a letter for Mothers Day and told me that I was the strongest person she has ever met and that I always have a smile on my face. Other people also tell me this, so I guess it is true.☺

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

I have learned that cancer knows no boundaries and that it prefers the nicest of people. I have learned that doctors are human and can make mistakes and that they deserve a break. I have learned that nurses work way too hard. I have learned that my husband is so much more supportive in the “sickness” part of marriage than I ever imagined him to be! I have learned that when people come together for a good reason and when things are based on Faith, Hope and Love, miracles can and do happen.

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Face of Hope, August 2014 – Jenny (Louisville, KY)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I saw a story about Hope Scarves on Facebook shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer and shared it with my friends and family. After I shared the story, several of my friends and family members sent scarves to me.

2. If you donated a scarf please share what this experience meant to you or if you received a scarf and story please share how this impacted your healing journey?

I have received 4 scarves from Hope Scarves since beginning my journey in April. Each of my chemotherapy cycles consist of an inpatient treatment, where I receive IV and IP chemo, and an outpatient treatment, where I receive only IP chemo. The inpatient treatment makes me feel the worse – I usually end up on the couch for several days after each one. It is really hard to have to tell my kids I can’t do things with them because I am sick, or to have to miss their ball games. It is during this part of my treatments that I feel discouraged and depressed. Fortunately, my scarves have all come during these times. The stories that accompany the scarves have given me hope and helped to lift my spirits. It is so encouraging to know that all of these other women have been through something similar and have come out of it so strong. Whenever I feel myself losing hope, I think about their stories and know that if they can do it, I can too.

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

For me, my support system has been a major source of strength. I have a big family and they are always ready and willing to help me in whatever way they can. I also have a big church family that has been praying constantly and providing encouragement throughout my journey.

4. Where are you currently on your cancer journey? Tell us how you are living life over cancer.

I am currently in the middle of my chemo regimen. I am in the middle of my third cycle and I have to complete six cycles. I am trying to live life as normal as I can by spending time with my kids and my family and doing fun things around town in between cycles. We had to cancel our Gatlinburg vacation this summer, but are planning a beach trip to celebrate the end of my chemo in October.

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

I wish other people knew how much of a difference Hope Scarves makes in cancer patients lives. Without going through it, it is difficult to understand just how hard battling cancer can be and how simply hearing someone else’s story and knowing other people are going through the same thing can completely change your outlook.

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

I would encourage them to do it. The person they are sending it to may be discouraged and the scarf will definitely lift their spirits and give them strength to keep fighting.

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

I am a paramedic and had started a paramedic to RN bridge program before I got sick. I plan on finishing the program and becoming an RN. I also plan on finding a way to give back to other cancer patients and encourage them on their journeys.

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

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” – Winston Churchill

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

Passionate and caring.

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

I have been on both sides, going through ovarian cancer myself and losing my sister to Ewing sarcoma 5 years ago. The big thing that I learned is to not take life for granted. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, so don’t waste time holding grudges or being angry or worrying about things that don’t really matter.

Face of Hope, July 2014 – Meghan (Berkley, MI)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I first became connected with Hope Scarves when I met Lara at the Conference for Young Women with Breast Cancer in New Orleans in 2012. My husband and I stopped by her booth at the expo and I immediately felt a connection with Lara as a young survivor and was so moved by this incredible idea she had in creating Hope Scarves. I took home a stack of her marketing materials and distributed them throughout my cancer treatment center, wrote about her on my blog and told family and friends to check out this wonderful organization. We have stayed in touch through the last 2 years and now forged a great friendship!

2. If you donated a scarf please share what this experience meant to you or if you received a scarf and story please share how this impacted your healing journey?

I have shared scarves with many different people after becoming inspired by Hope Scarves. From my husband’s high school student battling lymphoma, my aunt dealing with ovarian cancer, and my dear friend dealing with a recurrence and having to lose her hair for the second time…passing along my scarves has been a way for me to show my love to others and let me know I am here to support them. To let them know I have been down that road and have come through the other side, and they will too. It might seem like a subtle gesture, but to those faced with losing their hair and a huge piece of their identity, it can mean so much.

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

My greatest sources of hope and strength have always been the love and support of my family, friends and other cancer survivors. Those closest to me, especially my incredible husband, provide me with strength during those most difficult times. The times when you just feel tired of dealing with it all. All of the amazingly brave women I have become friends with that deal with cancer as a chronic disease are the ones that give me hope that I can follow in their footsteps and live a joyful life despite this disease.

4. Where are you currently on your cancer journey? Tell us how you are living life over cancer.

I live with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, for which there is no cure. I am currently doing very well and my disease remains stable with the help of oral medications and monthly injections. It has been a long road to get to here, but I can truly say I live my life over cancer in every possible way despite knowing this disease will also be a part of me. I work full time, run a small business, travel, exercise, donate my time to charities, and spend as much time with family and friends as possible.

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

I would love for others to know what a huge gift you can provide by donating to Hope Scarves. It’s not just a scarf – it’s a symbol of support…a symbol of perseverance and a symbol of HOPE! You may never know what that truly means to someone facing this type of battle.

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

Exactly the same answer as #5 ☺

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

For a long time I didn’t think I could have hopes or dreams for the future. It felt as though I didn’t have a future at all and it would be foolish to make plans for one. But, I am so thankful to say that I now see a bright future filled with many incredible experiences. Above all else, my only goal is to be able to say that I have made a difference with my life. At the end of the day, that is all I truly want.

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

“She stood in the storm & when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.” –Elizabeth Edwards

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

Hmmm…that is a toughie since I am pretty much my own worst critic. I would hope those who know me best would describe me as “strong” and “loyal”. Although I am not one to usually pat myself on the back, I am proud of all I have been through and overcome in my life…not just relating to cancer. Even before I was diagnosed, I had been through more hardships than the normal 20-something year old. I am grateful for the strength that was instilled in me while I being was raised by an incredible single mother. And I trust that my closest friends and family know how fiercely loyal I am. I would do anything for my friends and have tried my best to support them and stand by them, just as they have done for me.

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

I have learned soooo….much about myself and about life in general since my diagnosis. One of the greatest lessons I wish others could truly understand is that the old cliché is so true…Life is far too short, so make the most of it while you can. We never envision hearing the words, “You have cancer”, or “There is no cure for Stage IV disease”, or “The average life expectancy is 24 months”. And I certainly never dreamed I would hear these things before reaching 30 years old. But I have tried my best to live a life full of happiness, grace and gratitude despite the cards that have been dealt to me. I am not thankful for cancer but I am thankful that I have the perspective to really, truly understand how fragile and precious life really is. It is something that I don’t think you can appreciate until you realize how quickly it can be taken from you. Spend your days surrounded by the people and things that make you happiest and bring you joy because life is far too short to spend your precious time any other way!