Advanced IIIA, Diagnosed at age 38 (24 year Thriver)
Publisher, Breast Cancer Wellness magazine
Founder, Breast Cancer Thrivers Cruise, Happy Birthday Party for Breast Cancer Survivors
Author, How We Became Breast Cancer Thrivers
Co-Author, Faces of Inspiration
Contributing Author Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivors Soul, The Pink Prayer Book, Dancing with Fear, Inkspirations for Breast Cancer Survivors and For Breast Cancer Survivors, 101 Ways to Help Your Doctor Help You
1. What was the darkest moment in your cancer journey?
The first few weeks were horrific on a mental and emotional level. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and sobbing uncontrollable tears that I didn’t want my husband or children to hear. I hid them well for about ten days and then I just couldn’t keep the game face on any longer. I couldn’t keep saying, “I am fine,” when I was freaking out inside. At that moment, I learned to become authentic with my feelings. And I also learned to be more mature in my responses to my feelings.
2. If you could go back and talk to your pre-cancer self, what would you say?
Simply put: You can do this.
The other thing I would say to myself is to set boundaries, and that boundaries only have value when you honor them. Others will only honor your boundaries when you yourself honor them first.
If I could say something to others, it would be that they are not alone. What we need to learn most seems to come into our space when we need it most, and when we are ready. I love the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” This has been a consistent theme throughout my journey.
3. How has cancer changed you?
It changed my priorities and helps me focus on what is really important to me. I have given myself permission to spend less time with negative influences or those who do not align with my values, and to spend more time with strong, kind, and joyful people.
4. What motivated you to pursue your 2nd Act?
After three perfect strangers reached out to me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt a deep need to pay it forward. They shared their stories and it made all the difference for me to be to come out of despair and begin to heal. They helped me learn first hand the power of sharing one’s story. And that is why I created the magazine.
I started from absolute scratch, with no crystal ball to show me the direction or how much it would take to create a national publication! The hard work has been worth it. But after 12 years, I am finally slowly down a bit.
5. What has been your brightest moment in your 2nd Act?
I have met the most inspirational, life-loving friends a person could ever ask for!
6. Where do you see yourself going from here?
I am adding two new sections to the magazine: one called “For the Newly Diagnosed” and the other “More for Stage IV.” And I’m also working on a special short video to debut in the fall 2017.
On the personal front, I’m making it a priority to spend more time on the lake with my family this summer. We’ve got a trip planned to Lake Placid in June and a dream trip to Ireland in August.
7.What’s your favorite quote and how does it fit into your 2nd Act?
“To survive is our starting point. To thrive is our original design.”
– Beverly Vote