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!

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.