Melissa – Lexington, KY
How did you become connected with Hope Scarves?
I met Erica, from Hope Scarves, at the Celebration of Hope event at the Horse Park last June (2014). I realized that the scarves that I had worn during my time in chemotherapy could be sent to other women who were going through the same thing. I had collected quite a few, as I had started going to the local fabric stores and finding types of fabric that felt comfortable and patterns that I enjoyed and having half of a yard cut. I would then tie them in different ways and I could have control over what colors and styles that I could wear. Any sense of control in that situation was a welcome one.
What did the experience of donating a scarf and story mean to you?
Being able to give something that gave you strength to someone else in the midst of a cancer journey creates a special bond. It reminds you of your blessings and can pass hope along to another by seeing your positive outcome.
What are the things that provide hope and strength to you throughout your battle?
My Faith, Family and Friends played a large role in my hope and my strength. I’ve always said that when I was unable to lift myself, God and others lifted me instead. I could feel it. My husband, Joe kept all the promises that he’d made to me on our wedding day. In sickness and in health and be a tricky one and can sneak up on you sooner than you’d like. My 2 boys also kept things interesting. My goal was to keep things as “normal” for them as I could. That’s where family and friends really stepped in. They helped to make sure the boys were taken care of during my greatest time of need.
Where are you currently on your cancer journey? Tell us how you are living life over cancer.
After a 15 year career as a Physical Therapist Assistant, my cancer diagnosis kept me from being able to continue my work in the hospital. During my treatment, I started volunteering with a non-profit organization, Kentucky CancerLink (formerly Kentucky Pink Connection) that provides support to Kentuckians on a cancer journey. I was drawn to their mission and felt like it was something that I could help with. In 2014, Kentucky CancerLink (formerly Kentucky Pink Connection) after a Board vote for a mission expansion to provide support for all cancer diagnoses, I came on board as “Community Relations” and help spread the word about their mission and with fundraising. I’ve been part-time there since May 2014. I’ll be keeping my Physical Therapist Assistant license current, but for now I am extremely content in the work that I’m doing for Kentucky CancerLink.
What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?
I would like others to know what great work the Hope Scarves organization is doing and how they give hope to women on a cancer journey world-wide! Also, how easy it is for others to participate and help the mission by donating not only scarves, but stories as well.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about sending a Hope Scarf to a friend facing cancer?
Sharing your experience and giving something like a scarf to someone else that is going through a cancer journey is a simple act that can have great significance. The greatest thing you can have while fighting cancer is a sense of community. Having a lifeline to someone that has had a positive outcome can truly lift spirits of the person that is “in the valley.”
What is one of your dreams or goals for the future??
One of my goals, or could be as much of a dream for the future is to find a way to get Kentucky CancerLink fully funded.
What is your favorite inspirational quote or words to live by?
One of my favorite quotes is, “Grow where you are planted.” It’s very simple and I’m not quite sure who said it, but it has meant a lot to me in the transition of my life and career. Another one that’s funny is, “When life hands you lemons, turn them into chocolate cake and leave them wondering how you did it.” Also not sure of the source. 🙂
If your friends or family had to describe you in two words, what would those be?
Please share something you have learned facing cancer.
I learned that my Faith runs deeper than I knew and that you can have true peace while going through something very traumatic. I wish I could say that I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. In reality, I stepped back into the role of wife and mom to two young boys and those scenarios don’t really match up. But I do love to hug a little tighter and pay attention to living in the moment more often.