1. How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?
I have a community page on Facebook called “Team Jessica Wilt” and saw a Hope Scarves “Faces of Hope” Facebook post featuring a young dancer named Maggie that caught my attention. I’m a dancer too, fighting bone cancer, and was really inspired by Maggie’s story.
2. If you received a scarf and story please share how this impacted your healing journey.
After learning about Hope Scarves, I requested a scarf of my own. A few weeks later, I received this beautifully wrapped package. Inside was a lovely patterned scarf with colors of blue and purple – my favorite! The included note said a dancer in California had survived breast cancer wearing this scarf during her treatment. It warmed my heart to receive a scarf worn by a fellow dancer and cancer survivor!
I feel beautiful when I wear my Hope Scarf and receive so many compliments. I’m not only honoring the dancer who wore it before me, but it’s a daily reminder she won her fight with cancer and I am winning mine. I look forward to that moment when I’m able to pass this scarf onto another who needs it more than me.
3. What are the things that provide hope and strength to you throughout your battle?
When I first heard the “C” word I decided I had two choices: I could be angry and depressed feeling sorry for myself, or I could fight cancer’s butt with positive energy and a giant smile. Outside of my own personal strength and determination, I have been blessed to have an amazing community of support that surrounds me every day with relentless love, kindness and prayers.
I am also fortunate to have an awesome medical team at The Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital who are not only saving my life, but are treating me with great care and compassion every step of the way.
4. Where are you currently on your cancer journey? Tell us how you are living life over cancer.
I was living in New York City and had been misdiagnosed for over a month with acute sciatica. After reaching a point where I was in severe pain and could no longer walk, my parents in Ohio flew me home in July where a tumor on my right femur was quickly discovered. I was formally diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and immediately began aggressive chemotherapy. I have a few more chemo treatments left (out of a total of fourteen), then will begin six weeks of radiation in February 2015.
Right now, cancer is my life. But I remind myself I’m getting stronger every day. This experience is just a bump in the road that will soon pass. I can’t give up the fight even on days when I feel miserable, or cancer will win. My family and friends keep my spirits lifted and I try to stay focused on visualizing that moment when I’m back in NYC cancer-free. I’m so lucky there’s light at the end of my cancer story – I have so much more life I want to live!
5. What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?
There are many brave souls out there today fighting cancer, each with a powerful story to tell. For me, wearing my Hope Scarf is a symbol of strength and beauty. I wish every cancer survivor had the same opportunity I’ve been enjoying and will continue to spread the word about Hope Scarves to others.
6. What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending a Hope Scarf to a friend battling cancer?
The physical, emotional and spiritual rollercoaster ride that ensues after a cancer diagnosis can be a scary, confusing place. Wearing my Hope Scarf feels like a security blanket of love and warmth. Why not provide someone going through a really challenging cancer experience with a Hope Scarf that makes them feel safe and beautiful too?
7. What is one of your dreams or goals for the future?
My cancer experience has awakened me to a world of possibilities. Before cancer, I had been thinking about writing a memoir of short stories. Cancer has given me the courage to finally “just do it” among other things I’ve been putting off out of fear. Also, early on with my diagnosis I was told I would never dance again. Now that I’m getting better and my prognosis has improved, I’m looking forward to that moment when I can put my tap shoes back on and dance with my friends.
8. What is your favorite inspirational quote or words to live by?
“Being true to who we are means carrying our spirit like a candle in the center of our darkness.” – Mark Nepo.
9. If your friends or family had to describe you in two words, what would those be?
I’m not one who feels comfortable speaking for others, but I hear “relentless” and “strong” a lot.
10. Please share something you learned having gone through cancer – either as a survivor or as having a loved one with cancer.
My cancer diagnosis has provided many awakenings about life and perspective. I realize now, nothing matters more than living in the moment. Do the things you love. Don’t waste time and say no to the things you don’t love. Surround yourself with people who love you and give that love back in return. You never know who you might be inspiring. Oh, and smile a lot ☺.
(Profile picture credit goes to photographer Umar Abbasi)