Gina – Chicago, IL

July 2015

How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?

I met Lara at the Young Survivor Coalition Summit earlier this year. We got to talking and I found out she was an exhibitor, then I learned about Hope Scarves. It turns out that one of the girls I went to the conference with was the very first scarf recipient! She brought the scarf that Lara gave her when she was going through treatment and returned it back to Hope Scarves. Lara then turned around and gave it to me!

If you received a scarf and story please share how this impacted your healing journey.

I am always inspired by everyone’s story; realizing that everyone has struggles helps keep me going because I know I’m not alone. When I was first diagnosed I was in a deep depression for 1 ½ years until I joined YSC. I didn’t feel like I could talk about my story without feeling weird. When I was out of my depression and able to finally share my story I felt a relief being able to share that huge part of my life. Hearing other peoples’ story brings me a lot of hope. I am now also a mentor for other cancer survivors through Immerman’s Angels.

What are the things that provide hope and strength to you throughout your battle?

My children. I have 3 children under the age of 7. After I came out of my depression I realized I needed to be there for my kids who didn’t understand what was going on. They give me strength by looking at them and realizing they need me to be there. Also being a mentor angel gives me strength by being able to help other people. I haven’t given up, I try to be as positive as I can.

Where are you currently on your cancer journey?

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer when my youngest daughter was 3 mos old. My cancer had already metastasized to my bones. My cancer is not currently active however I am experiencing heart failure due to all of the chemo I’ve been on. I am taking a break from chemo to get my heart strong again.

What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?

It’s a wonderful organization that is helping so many people. Being able to wear a scarf and read a story from someone like you helps make you feel more beautiful and that’s all you want at that point.

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

How much it would mean to that person. Before I knew about Hope Scarves a friend found out I was losing my hair and sent me the scarves she wore during her treatment. It was empowering for me. She had beat cancer and then I was able to wear her scarves and feel hopeful that I’ll get there too!

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

I just want to see my kids get married and be there for them when they grow up. I’ve come across a lot of milestones that I’ve put all of my hope into. When my daughter turned 3 I was devastated at the thought that I couldn’t walk her to the bus when she went to Kindergarten and now she’s 7 and I was able to do that. I live for each milestone. I realize I can’t lose my energy thinking thoughts like that.

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

“It could always be worse.” I’ve been through so much this year and there are things in life that I consider to be worse than this cancer so I can’t let this cancer consume me.

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

Inspirational and courageous. I still face life with a smile and try be a friendly person.

Please share something you learned facing cancer.

I just face the world with everything I’ve got. I let my personality shine through and don’t live life with a black cloud over me. I still believe in miracles because they are constantly coming up with new drugs. I don’t know what the future holds for me so I’m living my life each day with my husband and kids to the fullest.