Face of Hope, January 2014 – Esther (West Valley, NY)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

My son’s teacher, Mary Lou Forster, donated to Hope Scarves in my name. I received a scarf in the mail.

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 loved the concept behind Hope Scarves. Membership into the cancer warrior group is not a voluntary membership yet there is a sisterhood among those who have endured. Those who have gone before reaching to those who are coming up the ranks and telling them there is hope is a wonderful concept. I was touched that the scarf of the warrior that I received had the same exact type of cancer and the same surgery. I checked with Mary Lou and she did not know the particulars of my cancer. So this “coincidence” gave me even more awe.

There is a song called “Borrow Mine” that immediately came to mind. The lyrics:

You can borrow mine when your hope is gone
Borrow mine when you can’t go on
‘Cause the world will not defeat you when we’re side by side
When your faith is hard to find, you can borrow mine, borrow mine

This is the concept of Hope Scarves. Love it!

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

My faith in God and support from friends, family, and survivors. I had a peace that even though I may not know what the purpose was, there was a reason beyond what I could see. There were so many messages from my Pastor, music, and “coincidences” that gave me peace and assurance. I had many strangers come up to me without knowing I had cancer and tell me that I was glowing or that I had a beautiful smile. I was dumbfounded. The peace I felt was appartently evident.

4. Where are you currently in your life after cancer?  Tell us about your hobbies, interests, family and what is going on these days.

I am looking forward to tax season. I was diagnosed in December last year so I missed tax season completely. I just became Quickbooks Certified this week so I will also have some new bookkeeping clients. I had the opportunity to speak at a “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” in October. I am a Zumba enthusiast and enjoy learning to “dance” while celebrating what my body can do.

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

I think people need to know it exists. The concept is so wonderful. It is a great gift to give to someone.

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

I can’t think of a better gift. You will be blessing the receiver more than she can express.

7. What is something that you would like to do that you haven’t done yet? (ie. Bucket List)

I had been wanting to tour New York City and go to the Empire State Building. I did that for my birthday last month! It was wonderful. In the future, I want to tour Italy. All of it.

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

Music and music lyrics were very inspirational to me. I chose two songs as my theme songs for 2013. “10,000 Reasons” and “Worth It All”.

These lyrics often came to mind:

“Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes.”

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

Strong. Inspirational.

10. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer.

I have a new perspective on life. It is empowering to face adversity and fear and come out on the other side. The support I received warmed my heart and changed me. I am able to let things go easier because everything else pales in comparison to what I already went through. I learned to think about what I want to do rather than what is expected of me. I am living.

Face of Hope, December 2013 – Jennifer (Louisville, KY)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I first read about Hope Scarves in a local publication, right after my diagnosis. Not long after, two different women I know requested that scarves be sent on my behalf.

2. How did receiving the scarf and story impact your healing journey?

It was such a treat to receive a colorful, pretty scarf in the mail, along with a cancer survivor’s story. It gave me hope that I, too, can beat this illness. I felt as if I was “carrying the torch,” so to speak, and continuing the fight in the battle of beating cancer. And, it helped to wear something that made me feel feminine, because breast cancer can certainly rob you of your femininity.

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

My children, family members and friends kept me going. My kids are ages eight and six, and I plan to be in their lives for a very long time – see them graduate, start careers, get married. Plus, there’s so much more that I want to do in my life, so those thoughts, and the help of a great support system, kept me motivated.

4. Where are you currently in your life after cancer?  Tell us about your hobbies, interests, family and what is going on these days.

I finished with chemo on July 5. I had a double mastectomy on Aug. 13 and my pathology report revealed no more cancer! I started radiation on Oct.19 and will be finished the day before Thanksgiving, which I think is rather appropriate. Before my diagnosis, I was into running, so when I can, I take walks to stay active, with the hope that I’ll be a runner again. I took up horseback riding recently and love it! I’m learning English-style riding. It’s very athletic, yet therapeutic to be around the horses. I’m really enjoying myself. I’m also an avid reader and I like to garden. Slowly, but surely, I’ll return to doing the activities I love. Of course, my kids’ many extracurricular activities keep me busy as well.

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

It truly is about hope. It’s not only about receiving something you can wear while going through chemo, it’s learning the stories of other cancer survivors. You find you’re part of this sisterhood of survivors and that’s a good feeling. You’re not alone.

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

Do it! It’s such a thoughtful gesture and speaking as a recipient, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that someone is thinking of you and cheering you on.

7. What is something that you would like to do that you haven’t done yet? (ie. Bucket List)

Travel more. I would love to visit Greece, Italy and Spain, among other locales.

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

“She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” – Proverbs 31:25

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

Strong and witty.

10. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer.

I learned that I could dig deeper that I ever thought possible. And, a good attitude will not only get you through it, but will help you thrive. I also found that I want to pay it forward for others. I met so many wonderful cancer survivors who gave me hope and I want to be there for others fighting the good fight.

Face of Hope, November 2013 – Kelley (Mattews, NC)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I have joked that I am the original “scarf wearer.” Five years after I went through treatment for breast cancer I heard about Lara McGregor through a mutual friend. After hearing that she was going through treatment while 7 months pregnant, I had to send her something. So I sent her a box of scarves and a short note hoping it would provide her a little encouragement. From there, Lara passed those scarves to someone she met at a conference who was going through treatment and the idea for Hope Scarves was born.

2. 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 never could have imagined what one good deed would turn into with Lara’s vision. In October, I was able to go see Hope Scarves for myself and meet some of the women who received scarves. I was touched by the women saying wearing the scarves was a “badge of courage” and that they earned the right to wear them. Many of them said it gave them strength knowing that someone else wore that scarf and survived. The idea is simple, but the message of hope is one that no one can put into words. Hope may be the only thing that people, who are fighting for their lives, may have.

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

My family and friends definitely helped me during my battle with breast cancer. They never let me get too down and always encouraged me to live as normal of a life as possible through it all. My sister also gave me a journal soon after I was diagnosed. I had never written in a journal before, but I was able to write down my fears and thoughts during that time. It allowed me a place to be honest and not have to worry about what someone else would think or how my fears may my loved ones feel. I tried to give myself a few minutes a day to feel sad or angry and then I had to move on and try to live my life without dwelling on those fears.

4. Where are you currently in your life after cancer?  Tell us about your hobbies, interests, family and what is going on these days.

I am currently 11 years cancer free, which feels amazing. In many ways I feel I have truly put that part of my life behind me. My husband and I now have 2 beautiful children that we were told 11 years ago we could not have. I love to spend time with the kids playing outside and I have recently started taking photography classes. Life feels normal now. I look back at that time and I am grateful that I went through it. I am stronger than I ever thought I was and I feel I have the ability to keep life in perspective. I know what is truly important.

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

After going to Louisville and meeting Lara, I would say it is truly an organization built from love. Hope Scarves is doing the work it set out to do-Provide hope and encouragement to those facing a tough battle ahead.

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

People often ask me what they can do to help someone who is facing cancer and it is not always easy to think of things that can help. A gift from Hope Scarves is a perfect way to show you care and offer encouragement to someone who needs it.

7. What is something that you would like to do that you haven’t done yet? (ie. Bucket List)

I love to travel so there are many places I still want to see like Spain, Portugal and Bora Bora. I am also working on writing a children’s book that I would love to see published one day. A personal goal would be to run a marathon (I better get going on starting that one). But mostly, I just want to enjoy the everyday things with my family.

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

I love quotes and words of inspiration. The Serenity Prayer was very helpful while I was going through breast cancer. I would recite it to myself silently while I was getting chemotherapy. I was also moved when a stranger came up to me at the mall, when I was bald and looking pretty sickly and told me, “You can do this.” Those words have helped me through many difficult times. Today, I love to pin my favorite quotes on Pinterest. Some of them are funny and some of them are reminders to myself to keep things in perspective. Today I love the quote from Mother Theresa who said, “Do small things, with great love.”

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

It may depend on the day, but I would say compassionate and genuine.

10. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer.

Facing a life altering event has to change you in some way. As I get further away from it, I forget that it had such an impact on me. I have felt what the words, “You have cancer,” can do. Your everyday life stops in that moment like hitting the pause button, and then after that you get to restart. I think the biggest impact it has had on me is I know I am strong, I know I can endure things that I never imagined. I wake up grateful for the battle scars and look forward to whatever comes my way.

Face of Hope, October 2013 – Sarah (Louisville, KY)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

A friend invited me to their wonderful fundraiser last fall. I took along several scarves with my stories attached.

2. How did it feel to share your story and encouragement to others when you donated your scarves?

It felt great! One thing I was determined to take away from my experience with cancer was my ability to help those who are starting the journey. I was so proud of myself that I made it through and I wanted to pass that confidence on to others. Donating my scarves to Hope Scarves was a perfect outlet through which to do that. 

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

I found humor to be empowering to me throughout my experience with breast cancer. It gave me control over the situation and helped me handle it with my children, Camille and Campbell. I remember one day in the car I was hot and took my scarf off. At first they were a little embarrassed. I told them to keep track of the number of people who were staring at me. By the end of the trip my son was saying, “Oh, oh, mom, that guy is looking at you. That makes ten!” We were all laughing about it. Also, fortunately for me, I had several friends who were going through it at the same time. I could see from some what I had ahead of me and help those who were behind me in their treatments.

4. Where are you currently in your life after cancer?  Tell us about your hobbies, interests, family and what is going on these days.

I feel great these days. I just passed the two year mark for the end of my chemo and radiation. Both of my children play soccer for Kentucky Fire Juniors teams. We go to A LOT of soccer games but I love it. I work as a dental hygienist and enjoy meeting new people every day. I use my position as a health care provider to spread awareness of breast cancer and regular screenings.

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

I can’t think of a more thoughtful gesture than to send a Hope Scarf to someone who is experiencing hair loss due to cancer treatments. It represents so much more than just a scarf.

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

I would tell them to definitely do it. The recipient will be so happy to know that they are connecting with someone who has walked in their shoes.

7. What is something that you would like to do that you haven’t done yet? (ie. Bucket List)

I’ve always wanted to travel across the country in an RV.

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

One of my favorite singers, Michael Franti:
“…no matter how life is today. There’s just one thing that I got to say. I won’t let another moment slip away.”

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

Strong, empathetic

10. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer.

One thing I try to remember after cancer is that you never know what someone is going through so try to be kind to everyone. As a breast cancer patient I had a scarf that alerted people to what I was experiencing. Not everyone has a scarf to tell you they are having a rough time. Next time someone is short with you, try to remember that and be kind.

Face of Hope, September 2013 – Jody (Ottumwa, IA)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I was connected through Hope for Two, Lara was my mentor. I was diagnosed when I was 34 Weeks Pregnant with my second son. Which was similar to Lara’s situation as well.

2. How did receiving the scarf and story impact your healing journey?

The story made me feel more confident with starting a new chapter in my life. The scarf was part of a way to make me feel more comfortable with my new image.

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

Having my two sons (Grant and Micah), my husband (Russ), Lots of family and Lots of friends here to remind me that I have a lot to keep on going with my daily life. Reading stories of other mom’s that have experienced getting diagnosed with breast cancer while being pregnant. Then delivery a healthy baby and caring for him while getting chemo treatment and soon double mastectomy. Knowing that it is possible to balance being a mom of two and wife during all of this.

4. Where are you currently in your life after cancer?  Tell us about your hobbies, interests, family and what is going on these days.

I currently have one more chemo treatment (which is August 28, 2013) and then at the end of September I will be getting a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. I am a stay at home mom so I spend lots of time with my two sons. We have a lot of family time at home, since I have to be careful with all the germs right now. Occasionally we go boating or to a friends house to have a play date with the other stay at home moms. We like to have family/friends over to cook great meals and entertain. We have family and friends stop over with lots of support.

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

That by receiving a scarf means so much. It gives you more confidence about your image and lets you know that you are not alone in this journey.

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

Make sure and take the time to send one to that special person. It is so uplifting to know that someone is taking the time to do something for you. So please send one!

7. What is something that you would like to do that you haven’t done yet? (ie. Bucket List)

Go on many more vacations with my family.  Would love to go on an Alaskan cruise with my husband.

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

Remember to:
Kiss your babies often
Tell the ones you love that you love them
Be thankful for the support from family and friends
Know the life is too short for nonsense
Be honest
And pray often…

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

Courageous and Focused

10. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer.

Take it day by day. Be positive and always remember to be thankful for all the support you received. For me that was a big relief knowing that so many people care even if they were not actually here to help out physically, but thinking of me and my family.