Gale and Patty are an Aunt and Niece with an already special relationship before Gale was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Gale received a Hope Scarf as a gift from her niece, Patty, along with months of support throughout her treatment. We chose to highlight this survivor/caregiver relationship as our Faces of Hope this month!
How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?
Gale: My cancer diagnosis following a routine mammogram in November 2014 struck like a bolt of lightning. I guess it always does! During this very dark time I received a Hope Scarf from my niece, Patty Hooker, following my double mastectomy in December. I had never heard of the Hope Scarves organization but was charmed by the story and the mission. I wasn’t alone.
Patty: I met Lara MacGregor through a mutual friend Teresa Crase when we first moved to Louisville in 2010. I heard about Hope Scarves as a vision and I am impressed, but not surprised it has taken off.
If you received a scarf and story please share how this impacted your healing journey. If you shared a scarf with a loved one please share this experience and what it meant to you.
Gale: Ironically, just prior to surgery I had gone to my wonderful 45 year old hairdresser Nathalie for a haircut to last me until chemo was started and when I was told I would become bald. I was shocked to learn Nathalie had been struck by advanced stage leukemia and was no longer working. I tracked her down to compare our joint blindsiding news, having been diagnosed within 6 weeks of each other. It was NOT the hairspray!
We connected and it was my pleasure and honor to send HER a hope scarf. She immediately got the message of the mission and promised to send a scarf to another friend also burdened by cancer. I love the “paying it forward” concept of Hope Scarves. It is so reassuring to have others in your camp when confronted with such a treacherous disease.
Patty: I donated a scarf to my Aunt because I loved the idea that I could pass on encouragement from someone who had actually been in her shoes. Gale lives in Miami, where I grew up, and I felt so far away in Louisville when she was diagnosed and while she was going through chemo. I think sending a Hope Scarf is a lovely way to show someone that you love and support them, even if you can not physically be there.
For the Survivor, what are the things that provide hope and strength to you throughout your battle? As the Caregiver, what are ways you provide(d) hope and strength to your loved one throughout her battle?
Gale: Bald as a egg, I proudly wear my Hope Scarf and enjoy the bond that this small item has germinated in so many women facing the challenges of cancer.
Patty: I guess I tried to do all the typical things to show that you care. We sent letters and flowers, followed her closely and posted on her Caringbridge website, but I really think that just being able to sit and be there in person is the best way to show you care. My husband and I were able to visit Gale in May and catch up over a wonderful meal that she prepared for us at her house. It was the best visit and she looked amazing and full of life…and of course, she wore her scarf!
Where are you currently on your cancer journey? Tell us how you are living life over cancer.
Gale: Six months later, I have just finished dose density chemo while Natalie hopes to join a clinical trial as her chemo has not produced the results that were hoped for. I can’t quite call myself a survivor yet. My Stage 2 invasive breast cancer tends to make me feel the wolf is still there just behind the door. However, another friend and survivor recently said before long I will actually go through a whole day without thinking that six letter word! I look forward to that day, and I have every reason to be hopeful for a wonderful and long future.
What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?
Patty: I wish people knew how easy it is to order a scarf. I hope people can see this as a growing community of caring individuals who only want to spread positive energy and hope. The scarf is a symbol of love, compassion, empathy, support, and hope.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending a Hope Scarf to a friend facing cancer?
Patty: I am sadly headed to a funeral on Saturday of a young friend who passed from cancer. I visited him as often as I could under the constraints of life. He said to me that he has lived with no regrets which is a beautiful thing to be able to say. If you are considering AT ALL to send a scarf, do it. You will not regret it. We regret more the things in life that we do NOT do, instead of the things we do!.
What is your favorite inspirational quote or words to live by?
Gale: I like this quote by Winston Churchhill – “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
I also like this quotation by Kahil Gibran – “Faith is an oasis in the heart which can never be reached by a caravan of thinking”.
Patty: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you can.” – John Wesley
Please share something you have learned facing cancer – either as a survivor or as having a loved one with cancer.
Gale: As I slowly recover from the horrible side effects of chemotherapy, I find myself looking at life with much more perspective than in the past. Every day DOES matter, but not in the sense that we “A” personality, over-the-top achievers have to rush out and DO more with our time. We need to relax and BE! Be more in the moment, savoring the light of our own unique spirit. After they removed my nipples I looked at my body in a whole different way – This torso, arms and legs is simply a vessel and although I cherish my existence and physical wellness, I just don’t think my body is so important anymore. I remain 120 pounds of rollicking, frolicking upbeat attitude, and look pretty damn good in a bathing suit at age 70 (shhh), but my legacy will be my spirit and how I infused those around me with joy and happiness. What could be better than that!
Patty: I think that sometimes, there are no words that help, and that can be hard. I do not have the gift of knowing the right thing to say at the right time and that is ok. I have other gifts. I am humbled by the kind words and actions that come out in a loved one’s time of need. I firmly believe that there is more good than evil in this world and I hope, as I raise my daughters, that they learn most important things in this world cannot be purchased. They are felt with heart. So many people took time out of their busy lives to help Gale when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and let her know that she is loved and that is a gift.
Here are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)