On November 29, 2016 — my life changed when I heard the words – YOU HAVE BREAST CANCER! Everything went numb, my body and soul sank, all I could do was cry. Many thoughts went through my mind like “Am I going to die, will I lose my hair, and how did I get breast cancer when no one in my family has it?”
What a scary word associated with so many unknown things and so many things to come that you have no clue about.
At first, I was so afraid and embarrassed to tell anyone I had breast cancer because I didn’t want to be labeled — but something inside of me told me I need to share my Pink Ribbon Journey. I hope by sharing my story/journey, it will help someone else – 1) that doesn’t have anyone by their side to know that they do 2) are confused, mad, frustrated, sad but I can give them hope to find happiness 3) need someone to talk to – I am here for you 4) have someone to listen to them — I’m all ears and 5) to cry with them or to just understand the ups and downs of this terrifying battle that we are fighting. SO here it goes… I was so afraid to tell anyone (including my family) the struggles/depression I have felt since I was first diagnosed because I didn’t want to be judged as not being so strong. I may seem like a statue and perfect (which I am not) on the outside, but inside I’m a mess of emotions.
After my diagnosis… I thought I would never be able to do the things I love again because I wouldn’t have the strength or confidence to do so as I did before. I was so confused and didn’t understand – why me?!
This was a challenging time in my life – I was sad, depressed and just didn’t know what to do! I researched/googled so many things trying to understand what all this meant, but it just made me more depressed and scared. I felt alone and couldn’t explain to anyone the true feelings I was feeling.
I told myself “You must continue to fight to figure out and try to understand your journey”. You think something like this will never happen to you, but breast cancer/cancer doesn’t discriminate.
I had a lumpectomy in January 2017 to remove the cancer. After the surgery, things got much harder! I had to look at this scar every time I took my shirt off – a constant reminder of what I had been through.
I sat around for months trying to wrap my mind around everything. Until one day I told myself you have to live again! You have to be you again! You are a wife, a business owner, daughter, a sister, a friend, a fur-baby mom, and you are STRONG! You have so much to offer in life and to others!
As most of you know, we have so many choices in life but unfortunately, with cancer – we don’t! It chooses us – we don’t choose it, which is so hard to understand!!!
SO, what did I do?? I did something I LOVE! I did something that was going to give me HOPE and a purpose. A reason to work towards a goal! Something to thrive for, something to work towards!
I did a pageant! I competed in another pageant system – called Mrs. North Carolina United States in 2017 (just a couple months after my lumpectomy) and won the state title and went to the National pageant – Mrs. United States and I placed in the top 10. But I couldn’t stop, I felt like I wanted and needed to keep going.
SO, in November – 2018, I competed for Mrs. North Carolina America for the 3rd time and won! The last time I competed at this pageant which was October 2016 – about a month later is when I was diagnosed with – breast cancer. I felt like going back would be very healing because I had worked so hard to get ME back!
As I prepared for the National pageant – Mrs. America which was this past year (August) right in the middle of getting ready and so excited for the opportunity to compete in Las Vegas to potentially be the next Mrs. America.
This would give me an even bigger platform to share my message as a breast cancer survivor and create awareness – I was faced with another challenge.
Unfortunately, in April of 2019, I was diagnosed again with Breast Cancer or some say a recurrence. I had a bilateral mastectomy in May, and I have one more surgery to take the tissue expanders out and replace them with implants at the beginning of October. The second time hearing those words has been very scary and a real shock. I honestly thought we were done with that life taker!
I do believe we all have a purpose in life….sometimes it just takes something so shocking and devastating for us to realize what that might be! I have worked really hard to take what has been put in my path and turn it into my purpose. It is so healing for me to share my story and use this shiny microphone (lol) as Mrs. North Carolina and a two-time breast cancer survivor to do so.
As Mrs. North Carolina America, I am taking this opportunity to turn my pain into my purpose by empowering, encouraging, and educating women through HOPE about the importance of early detection with mammograms, because that’s what saved my life twice!
HOPE stands for….
H– Help to provide information about early detection with mammograms
O– Opportunity to reach out and support survivors
P– Purpose to create awareness about breast cancer and finding new ways to fight for a cure
E– Educate women about the signs, symptoms, and treatments
My takeaway message to you today is never give up! Just because you are given a life-threatening diagnosis, bad news, or put through a very difficult challenge in life – life isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes these difficult things to make us realize how amazing life is and to find our purpose. We will all go through challenging times in our lives but remember – YOU are not ALONE – you have so many people that are ready to support you and help you through the difficult challenges of life!
(Disclaimer: This webpage may contain general information relating to various medical conditions and their treatment. Such information is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for advice provided by a doctor or other qualified health professional. Patients should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing a health or fitness problem or disease. Patients should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice or information about diagnosis or treatment.)