My most significant accomplishment in life is being the mother of my two beautiful daughters, Sarah, forever 24 and Ariel, forever 4.5 months. Sarah’s favorite quote was ‘I want to be like a sunflower, so even on the darkest days, I will stand tall and find the sunlight,’ in more days than not recently I have to recite that to myself to get through my day. We don’t get to change the occurrences in our life; we are only in control of how we handle them. This quote applies to everything in life and I like to share it whenever anyone has a negative outlook.
I am a three-time cancer survivor, my first diagnosis was at the young age of 29, and I have been set on finding a cure since that time. My second diagnosis was at the age of 32, following this diagnosis I became involved in the Teal Talk support group for gynecological cancers and saw how much a positive attitude and hope brought to my healing and how the patients with a negative attitude and outlook were not as successful in their treatments. ‘No one should have to go through cancer alone.’ My third diagnosis was at the age of 43, no longer with a positive attitude or outlook. I was stuck on the ‘three strikes you’re out,’ but when my then 23-year-old daughter looked at me in the eyes and said ‘I need you’ that was all it took for the fighter to resurface and know I have to beat this monster once more and I did. I am currently in remission and continue to fight battles from the surgeries but I do not let that slow me down. She is dedicated to the cause to eradicate Cancer, and nothing will stop me from doing that as long as she is still breathing.
As you go through battles such as these, you definitely learn what’s important to you, and you focus on that. I know that the people that I love and the things I do with and for others will always be remembered over any material object.
Another issue with being in a battle with cancer is your support; I have a great family and had them by my side at every moment that I needed them, but the one part they couldn’t understand was precisely how I felt. They think they know, but it really is one of those cases where you have to experience it first hand to really get it. Knowing that I have experienced “the first hand,” three separate times, every experience unique, I feel like I can confidently say that I get it and provide support for others.
These personal experiences have been the driving force to my passion for helping cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers through fundraising and volunteer opportunities. Most of my volunteer opportunities have been part of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. I have also volunteered for Feel Beautiful Today, Gwinnett Medical Center’s Paint Gwinnett Pink 5K, Cooper’s Crew Golf Tournament, as well as, other opportunities as they arise. Supporting foundations that promote education and raise funds for the advancement of cancer therapies, cures or patient support is my passion and Beyond the Ribbon, Inc. allows me to live out that passion by giving back to others so that even in their darkest days, they can find a light also.