Reilly- Lexington, KY

Reilly rocking her Hope Scarf

When 21 year old Reilly was given a scarf she explains, “it was like I was given the torch in the hardest relay race there was. When this woman handed me her scarf, it was her way of saying: ok, now it’s your turn to finish this race.”

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer.

I have brown hair and I was born with several blonde spots on one side of my head!

What brought you hope as you faced cancer?


How do you live life over cancer?

I fought a battle that not all are able to beat. I survived, and for the people who don’t I owe them the respect of living life. I could have let cancer bring me down, instead, I fought to survive and to continue with the life I was given.

How did you become connected with Hope Scarves? 

During treatment, I met a young woman in radiation that I saw everyday. I was walking into the radiation room one morning as she was walking out.  She had a beaming smile on her face and told me she was done with radiation. After we hugged, she handed me her scarf that she wore everyday. She told me about Hope Scarves a few months before this moment, and it was because of her that I sent my scarf along when I was done.

What do you wish other people knew about Hope Scarves?

As a 21-year-old going through treatment, the changes on the outside were very obvious that I had cancer. I often felt ugly and awkward around people and always felt the stares. Although what I looked like was the least of my problems, it made me feel less human. Hope Scarves brought me to a community of warriors that are like me and made me feel normal.

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

I would encourage them to do it. When I was given a scarf, it was like I was given the torch in the hardest relay race there was. When this woman handed me her scarf, it was her way of saying: “ok, now it’s your turn to finish this race.”

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

Earlier in my college education, my future goals included earning a degree in Hospitality that would allow me to run a resort in the sunshine. When I was diagnosed with cancer, and experienced a different kind of hospitality, my goals in life changed. Since I was given the gift of life, I plan to help, support, and inform others about pediatric cancer. When I was going through treatment I had specific pains and fears that no one understood. I am now that person who understands. A child may not always understand why they are sick.  They may have only seen the inside of a hospital. Distractions, smiles, laughter, and compassion makes the battle a little easier, which is something I can provide. My goal is to encourage cancer patients of all ages to not allow cancer to take their smile. Laughter truly is the best medicine and I will do everything in my power to comfort these warriors by telling them that’s it’s ok to laugh through all of the pain. This is one more way of showing cancer that it messed with the wrong person!

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

‘Jesus replied, “you don’t understand what I am doing now, but someday you will.” John 13:7’

If your friends or family describe you in a couple of words, what would they say?

They say I am sassy, strong, inspiring, witty & loved

Please share something you learned facing cancer.

As a cancer patient you learn things that are both positive and negative. Since the beginning of treatment, both my family and I learned so much about medicine. I’ve learned more about myself the last year than I ever knew before, while also learning a lot about my friends, family, and community. My family has been affected by cancer before, so I was somewhat prepared to possibly have it later in life. I never expected to receive a cancer diagnosis so young. I also didn’t realize that I had the strength in me to beat cancer, while walking away from it with more strength than I started with. From my nurses, I was grateful to learn more about people, kindness, and giving than I did about illness. Cancer has taught me many things and although these learnings are not always something you want to find of someone or something, I feel there was a reason for me to experience and acknowledge it. I am grateful for what cancer has shown me because if cancer taught me anything, it taught me to understand; to look at things from a different side, to have compassion, and to share the strength I have been given with other cancer patients.