Face of Hope, June 2014 – Wendy (Louisville, KY)

1. For whom have you been a caregiver and what has it meant to you?

I was a caregiver every day for 6 weeks to my wonderful mother, Nancy J. (Koenig) Buckman. She was diagnosed 4 yrs earlier with lung cancer but it was a small manageable spot in her lower left lung. She went through surgery to have that lower lobe removed, then only required 4 chemo treatments and she didn’t lose her hair (something was she was REALLY concerned about.) She was then was given all-clear reports for 3-4 yrs, but in July 2013, she began feeling badly, with rather normal symptoms of just being ill. However, by mid-August, she wasn’t getting well. Then, Labor Day night she was rushed to the hospital with what was first thought of as a stroke, only to find she had 11 spots on her brain. She then went right into radiation treatment but already was having problems with motor skills. She was never really able to walk again very well, and speaking quickly became a problem. She passed away about 6 weeks to the day on Oct 18, 2013. Being with my mom every day during her battle was heart-breaking yet, such precious moments of just slowing down life and being with the one you love. I have sweet memories of holding her hand every day, reading out of the bible to her, playing music, telling funny stories, watching old movies….

2. How did you or your loved one become connected with Hope Scarves?

It was meant to be that I learned about Hope Scarves. My mom hadn’t been diagnosed more than 3-4 days when I saw a spot on WAVE3 about the organization. I knew immediately I had to contact them because the radiation doc said this time she would lose her hair. My mom came from the generation that it was important you were “put together” and dignified in your grooming. Therefore, losing her hair made her feel very “naked.” I knew special scarves and hats could ease things… Hope Scarves responded immediately with the most beautiful scarf, packaged beautifully like it was Christmas for my mom!

3. What are ways you provide(d) hope and strength to your loved one throughout her battle?

Just by being there every day and talking about “Hope” because she knew there were “small victories” that could be accomplished along the way and in the last week when she knew she was dying, we talked about how beautiful Heaven would be and how she would be with her mom and dad.

4. What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending a Hope Scarf to a friend or loved one battling cancer?

It is a beautiful, MEANINGFUL gesture, it carries such depth to the experience, rather than it just being a piece of material to be put on one’s head. It truly provides sunshine and hope when using it because it is also accompanied by a letter from a cancer survivor. My mom’s survivor was a 74 yr old lady named Nancy… I know hand-picked since it was my mom’s name… VERY special to us as her family.

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

Now faith is being sure of what we HOPE for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1.

6. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer with your loved one?

That you are stronger that what you think you are and that your loved one is stronger than you might have ever thought that person could be! For me, I have to put my trust in God and it did, to get me through… I relied on the fact that His mercies were new every morning.

A picture of Wendy (on the left) wearing her mom’s scarf around her waist at the Outrunning Cancer marathon in April 2014.
wendy palazzo 2

Face of Hope, May 2014 – Joan (Atlanta, GA)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I had no idea such a wonderful program as Hope Scarves existed until the daughter of a friend of mine sent me one. Amy Keller, a Louisville gal and mother of two young boys, was just finishing up her own battle with breast cancer when she heard of my relapse.

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?

Receiving the beautiful scarf from Amy was like an infusion of hope from a fellow traveler. Reading the online stories of so many young women who had fought and succeeded in their battle against cancer was tremendously encouraging. The scarf was also a conversation starter at the gym, supermarket, and church helping me connect with others who had been in my shoes or knew someone who was.

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

Of course, my family, friends, and my amazing dog, Emily were an invaluable source of support for me along with the wonderful staff at the Emory Winship Cancer Center here in Atlanta. Every test, statistic, and treatment were thoroughly explained with all their pros and cons. I think we’re all lucky to live at a time where we no longer blindly follow a medical protocol, put are partners in our treatment and recovery. Knowledge really does give one a sense of power.

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

I finished my last chemo in November and since then have been taking an aromatase inhibitor. I will take this for five years or longer perhaps. The side effects are not too bad, fatigue and sore joints, but if they keep another recurrence from happening I’ll be thankful. I’m back taking long walks with Emmie and swimming about 7 miles a week. For me exercise has been a wonderful healer, especially of the mind.

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

I think I would like others to know that there is this wonderful small gift of Hope scarves that they can send to a friend or even acquaintance that just “says” it all. When one’s own words won’t suffice, the stories of other Hope Scarf recipients can be so comforting for the cancer patient.

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

See above.

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

I would like to give Mt. Kilimanjaro one more try. My first attempt at age 22 ended with me stricken with altitude sickness about 500 feet below the summit.

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

Carpe Diem!

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

Impatient and compassionate (according to my husband).

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

Life is fleeting. Make every day count. Do something for someone else!.

Face of Hope, April 2014 – Jodi (Lawrenceville, NJ)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I met Lara at the C4YW conference in 2012 in New Orleans. My dear friend, a fellow survivor, met the ladies first and she was so excited she came over and said you have to meet them and fill out your story and send your scarves. We all started talking to the ladies and I was so inspired by the mission and vision of the organization that I filled out my story right away and took home my “HOPE” plaque that still hangs in my office.

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?

Upon arriving home from the conference, I packed up my scarves and sent them all to Hope Scarves the next day. It felt like this was the next step in my journey and it helped me to move further down the path. I hardly wore my scarves because in my mind it really meant I was in treatment and cancer was really happening.

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

My son was 2 years old when I was diagnosed and he was the one that I fought for. I wanted to do everything to be here for him. My parents, husband and friends were cheering me along and right by my side the entire journey and they still have not left me.

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

On April 13, I will be celebrating my 5 year “cancerversary” and at the end of the summer a dream that I have had since the day I was diagnosed will come true, we will be welcoming twins.

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

I wish everyone knew that Hope Scarves is there to provide hope and encouragement and as a scarf donor, the words that you write and the story that you share provides someone with 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 pick a scarf that reminds them of their friend and write a note with it so they know they are not alone and provide them with encouragement during their journey.

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

One of my goals is to continue making sure that no young women faces breast cancer alone and they are connected to the services and supports needed during their journey and I dream of a world without any cancer.

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

When life gives you lemons, make pink lemonade!

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

Hopeful and determined

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 what truly matters to me in life and the rest is just noise. Focus on the positive and leave the negative behind.

Face of Hope, March 2014 – Lara (Louisville, KY)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I am the founder of Hope Scarves. This idea grew from my personal experience when a friend of a friend sent me a box of scarves and a note of encouragement when I was facing breast cancer 6 years ago. Hope Scarves was my way of turning a scary time in my life into something positive to help others.

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?

Receiving those scarves from Kelley meant so much to me. Just knowing another young woman like me had faced this disease and made it through gave me hope I could do it to. When I started giving my scarves away I was equally touched. It meant so much to me to pass along the strength and courage I gained on my journey to someone else just starting out. Now, when we send out over 20 scarves a week- I am just in awe of the power of encouragement and hope being shared between women. I love what Hope Scarves has become and that it brings Hope to so many women when they are scared.

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

I am motivated by other women in my situation – hearing stories of determination and seeing them face this disease helps me believe I can as well. I have an amazing doctor who helps me believe in myself and gives me lots of room to be hopeful even when things were dire. I also have an amazing support network of friends and family that picks up all the pieces I can’t carry anymore. I am spending a lot of time looking at the mind, body, spirit connection and nurturing each piece. I realize that cancer takes a toll on all three

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

I was diagnosed with stage iv metastatic disease on jan.9th first diagnosis of stage II breast cancer in 2007. It has been quite a blow to my “hope” to be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. I really thought I had beaten it after everything we went through 7 years ago. This diagnosis has been a lot harder to comprehend and accept but I am doing the same things I did 7 years ago- finding women living with this same diagnosis, surrounding myself with good doctors and leaving room for hope. Having an advanced stage diagnosis brings so much unknown. I think that has been the hardest part. Not knowing how long I have to live, not knowing if this disease will progress quickly or hold stable, not knowing how my body will react to treatments… but, I am trying really hard to live life over cancer and take it one day at a time. Just soaking up the love and laughter I am a part of today.

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

I hope people will recognize Hope Scarves as a resource for cancer fighters and also for cancer survivors. As our requests for scarves increase we really need more survivors to share stories and encouragement!

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

Do it! No matter where they are in their journey – they deserve a little hope. If even for a moment – hope is an amazing gift.

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

I would love to have the opportunity to share Hope Scarves at the national level – like on Good Morning America or The Today Show. Most of all, I just want to live life as fully and love as deeply as possible for as long as I can.

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

“In the end, only three things will matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” Gandhi

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

Joyful & positive

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 my hope isn’t all nestled in survival anymore. Obviously I love to hear about women living with metastatic breast cancer for years and years. I would love to live with this disease for a very long time. But, my bigger hope is to live as fully as I can each day. To nurture my mind, body and spirit – to put as much of myself into our children so they know I am always with them and to figure out how to live life over cancer and be happy in the time I have.

Face of Hope, February 2014 – Sandra (Louisville, KY)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

Two years ago I went to a fundraiser for Young Survivors Group at Norton. I met Lara’s dad and he was so inviting and shared his story about his daughter and Hope Scarves. I was intrigued by the idea of the scarves and thought the scarves were so pretty.

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 donated several scarves and my story with Hope Scarves to encourage other women in this fight. It was such a special experience to have an outlet to do this.

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

One of the biggest things besides my faith and belief in a higher power has been sharing experiences with other survivors and women who have been through what I have been through. They are willing to walk my journey with me and hold my hand. This has been so encouraging.

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 had a re-occurrence in March of 2013. My cancer metastasized to my bone and other areas. I am stage 4. I am in the middle of an aggressive treatment with infusions and injections. I am hopeful and my prognosis is good, but I am uncertain of my future.

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

I think it is important for people who have received scarves to send them back when they finish treatment and share their story. There is someone out there who will benefit from your encouragement and find hope in your story. Pass it on!

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

Do it! A Hope Scarf is practical but it also a great way to communicate that you care.

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

I’d like to go out on New Years Eve with a nice looking gentleman and dance the night away in a ballroom.

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

The grass is always greener on the side you water.

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

Sweet – (even my blood sugar is high)
Compassionate

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

I’ve become a better human being going through cancer. I am able to understand life and its twists and turns and ups and downs. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone so make the best of today.