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.

Face of Hope, August 2013 – Teresa (New Albany, IN)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I had seen the brochure initially at Jewish Northeast, where I was taking chemotherapy and then had a very coincidental meeting with Lara. She was working with friends (on Hope Scarves) at Starbucks and her friends knew my friend. Lara recognized the bald head and pale skin of a chemo patient (me!) and initiated a conversation. We chatted and she took my contact information. The scarf arrived two days later.

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

It’s amazing how many people have dealt with cancer and chemo but when it’s YOU, it feels like a very lonely disease and you’re so lost and disoriented. Everyone comes to it in their own time but eventually, you want to connect with kindred souls and know that there’s an end to the confusion and fear. When you receive that scarf and read the story of the woman who donated it, you know that she sent it because she didn’t need it anymore. You aren’t always going to be where you are.

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

I connected with survivors on Breast Cancer websites and tried to provide encouragement to others that were starting a bit behind me. For example, if someone was afraid of the side effects of chemotherapy, I would share my experience and that it wasn’t so bad other than the fatigue. We have a history of cancer in our family (not breast but other types) and I doubt if I’m the last one to ever have to deal with it although I certainly hope so! I tried to look at my handling of this health crisis through the eyes of my other family members. I took a deep breath and prayed, not for healing, but for a certain grace and dignity as I journey through it. I want to be a good example.

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 returned to work in April after finishing chemo and am only now getting back to my pre-cancer life. The fatigue is gone— just in time to have my permanent implant surgery this week. But I’m planning on a quick recovery and then I’m on the hunt for a house to buy. I’ve lived in Louisville for 5 years—I guess its time to recognize that I’m staying here. And I’m glad about that; it’s a strange thing to say but I’ve made many good friends that connected with me through my having cancer.

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

I wish they knew that it has very little to do with just getting a scarf. Anyone can buy themselves a scarf. It’s about connecting with that kindred spirit who just wants to extend some comfort and hope at the time that you most need and appreciate it.

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

You should make plans to do it and I would suggest that you do it as soon as you know that chemotherapy is part of their treatment. Losing hair happens VERY quickly and having THAT scarf on hand and reading the story as you are mourning the loss of your hair is truly comforting. She’s been there and moved on and so will I.

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

I’ve never been to Europe and I’m going! My dream trip is Italy. I plan to get there within the next five years.

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

This is just a pit stop. I don’t live here and don’t ever have to visit again.

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

Oh wow! That’s a good question……

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

To let someone help you in whatever way they can is a gift—both for you and for them. So many of my friends and family would have done anything for me within their power and to say “No, I’m okay without you” is never true. I had no idea of the level of caring and concern, not just from people I already knew but from people that just knew about me! Casual connections at work became real connections when they heard what was going on with me and I’ll carry these friendships and relationships through with me for the rest of my life.

Face of Hope, July 2013 – Maria (Crestview Hills, KY)

1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I became connected with Hope scarves, when I met Lara MacGregor at a Breast Cancer Survivor luncheon.

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

Lara was telling me all about the support you feel when wearing a hope scarf! I couldn’t wait to receive mine in the mail. When I opened the envelope I was so excited to find and read the other women’s journey stories. I also received a little note from a little boy, telling me I can beat cancer!!! I love my scarves, I love to wear them to treatment and feel all the love from women who been down my road before!!!

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

First and foremost, God, knowing he’s standing at the finish line waiting for me, and cheering me on through every step!!! I have an amazing support group of survivors around me….I have been very brave through out my chemo process and this whole journey. I have remained completely positive, and decided not to let breast cancer get me down, instead I like to make other cancer patients, family and friends understand you don’t have to be afraid of cancer!

4. Where are you currently in your cancer journey?

I have 1 chemo treatment left, then I’m scheduled for a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction on July 17th. I will have surgery again in 12-16 weeks to complete the reconstruction process!! I love to drag race my Camaro, and shoot my gun!!! My family is amazing through my journey, I have an incredible husband and daughter who is 9… I am trying to live my life as normal as I can, but nervous about all the germs!!!

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

I wish everyone who is battling hair loss due to chemo, could feel the love you feel when you wear a scarf worn by another woman, especially after you read their story, of their journey! The women who founded Hope scarves are truly amazing. I feel so blessed to have met them!!!

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

I would definitely tell them to send one, receiving such a cute package in the mail, will cheer her up for sure!!! The scarf will give them hope and make her feel so special….

7. What is something that you would like to do that you haven’t done yet?

I would love to jump out of an airplane, I would also love to spend about ten days In Bora Bora with my husband!!!!

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

God is always there for me!!!!!

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

Strong and outgoing!!!!

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

I have learned that small things don’ t matter, your friends don’t mind if your house is a mess when they visit… Let other people do things for you. If you just trust God you will be very strong and at peace through the whole journey!!!