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On the first Sunday in June each year, on June 6 this year, the nonprofit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation rallies its forces and resources to promote National Cancer Survivors Day in the U.S. and worldwide, as it has done since 1988. The NCSD Foundation bills the holiday as a “celebration of life” where survivors — described as anyone who has a history of the disease, from the point of diagnosis through the remainder of life — gather with friends, families, and supporters to raise awareness, spread information, provide services, and honor other survivors, all to show that life after a cancer diagnosis can be full and fruitful.

Share Your Survival Day Story

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Carolyn

Type of Cancer : Breast

Date of Diagnosis : 6/9/2020

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

While going through my treatments, I had a dream; upon waking; I knew that my job on earth was not finished.  This was the moment I had to stay the course and believe. My gratitude to all medical staff overseeing my treatment and recovery.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

For those starting the cancer journey, I would encourage you to educate yourself on the diagnosis, think positive, and do not give up.

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Heather

Type of Cancer : Breast/Kidney

Date of Diagnosis: 3/2013, 12/2019

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, I was in the OBX. While walking on the beach in the morning and thinking about everything I came to the conclusion that I could fight this battle. Being alone on the beach at sunrise and listening to the waves is very peaceful for me. 

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

You can do this! Reach out for help when needed. Remember to always put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

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Jenny

Type of Cancer : Breast Cancer (stage II/III)

Date of Diagnosis : October 9, 2020

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

I was 36 years old with no risk factors for breast cancer, but for some reason, I felt like the biopsy results were not going to be good, so I asked a friend to go along to the appointment with me.  At 1:00 the radiologist told me I have cancer.  At 2:00 I was meeting with a surgeon.  Before I even left the hospital someone had offered to pray with me.  By 3:30 I was eating pizza outside at my favorite restaurant with the friend who had taken off work to go to a "quick appointment" with me.  We had planned to celebrate a negative biopsy.  Instead, we were celebrating that we'd caught the cancer when we did.  As I processed those very full 2.5 hours with my friend, I realized I could do this.  Not by myself, but with my friends and family and the Big Dude Upstairs.  Yes, I could do this.  I am doing this.  I had a double mastectomy 3 days after my 37th birthday and had my last chemotherapy treatment today!  Radiation is next.  And then 5-10 years of hormone therapy.  But I am alive.  I am loved.  I am okay.  And I am thankful.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Join a support group!  Ask questions!  Let people do things for you!

Anything Else to Add?

I took this photo of some boobies that washed up on a remote beach in September, one month before I found out I had breast cancer.

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Kendra

Type of Cancer : Breast

Date of Diagnosis : 4/1/2019

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

On April 1 I got diagnosed with breast cancer. I would numb they tell me about the Sarah Cannon breast Center support group on the first floor. I went down there the following day on April 2 and saw Ms. Rosa, who was in the reception area doing some kind of craft she was calm and she told me she was a breast cancer survivor. In a calm and reassuring way, she told me it was going to be OK that I would make it through the fog that I was currently feeling and I could survive this, just take a deep breath and keep moving forward and ask lots of questions along my journey. The following Wednesday I went to the support group meeting with a bunch of women I had never met before saying all these things that I couldn’t hear or comprehend yet because I was still in a fog but they were calm and that’s all I could hear was their kind gentle caring voices. I didn’t hear what they were saying but I did hear the kindness and warmth in their voices which was a relief for me that others that I could touch and feel were going to be there for me.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Have a second pair of ears with you during your appointments. Ask all your questions and write down the answer or have the other person write them down for you cause the information is overwhelming and the fog is still with you. Whatever your beliefs are find your center tie a knot and believe you will make it through this. Along the way you will find your inner strength and courage and a whole new set of women to encourage you, cry with you, and walk with you into a more fulfilling experience and life. A new sisterhood of lifelong relationships and supporters.

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Linda

Type of Cancer : Breast

Date of Diagnosis : 1/4/2021

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

The moment the radiologist gave me the diagnosis I asked the question: “Can I beat this?”  The nurse turned to me and said, “Definitely “.  I knew at that moment I had the faith, strength, and courage to fight the battle.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Let IT go!  Whatever IT is that you feel obligated to do every day, let IT go. Let someone else do IT for you. Let someone else assist you on this journey. Focus on YOU.

Anything Else to Add?

Every day with breast cancer is a new day. Take it one day at a time.

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Robin

Type of Cancer : Pleomorphic Undifferentiated Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Date of Diagnosis : 2010

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

I was Diagnosed with a rare soft tissue sarcoma in the bone and surrounding soft tissues of my right femur on July 19, 2010.  Three weeks later on August 5, 2010 my right leg was amputated high above my knee.  The picture above was taken on a Monday,  4 days before that life changing and life saving surgery.  I had just returned from the Medical College of Virginia after signing all the consent forms for that surgery to The Hawthorne to share in person the news and date of my decision to my Monday General Cancer Support. My husband was with me and we were only planning be be at The Hawthorne for a very brief  time.   What we didn't know as I very reluctantly and emotionally entered The Hawthorne, the center that I created and founded, were about 100+ people, patients, co-workers, physicians, community partners all gathered waiting to embrace me (us) with food and the same love and caring and support that I had given all of them.  I was immediately swaddled with that handmade whimsical blanket.  What you can't see is the underside of that blanket and all the beautiful caring handwritten messages to me on each quilted patch by those in attendance.   I knew in that exact moment, however way things were going to turn out for me in the days, weeks and months ahead, that I (and my family) were going to be OK.  The center and community that I had spent my whole career building to help people with cancer was now helping me!  I still have that blanket and during the cool winter months I lay it across my bed for a little extra warmth.  And though it has been used and laundered over these years, those very caring and sincere messages have not faded.  I always pause and read them never forgetting the profound power of caring and grace.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Cancer is a marathon not a sprint.  Answers don't come quickly.  The sooner you can understand and accept this fact the easier it will be over time to cope with the ambiguity of it all.  Try hard to surround yourself with people who can walk with you and help you to stay focused on the things that you can control.  Support Groups can be an invaluable resource if you find the right one!

Anything Else to Add?

Big goals are nice but I would rather set very small and meaningful ones that I can accomplish daily.  My first year was incredibly difficult at so many levels but staying focused on my small goals kept me grounded in the present moment and helped me to stay focused on the things that I could control.

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Cassandra

Type of Cancer : Breast 

Date of Diagnosis : August 2010

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

Four weeks after my mastectomy, I was able to participate in my first cancer walk with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. At first I was a little scared because I thought it would be too soon after my surgery to accomplish such a feat, but it was personally important enough to me to participate. Although I moved a little slow and required assistance from family, I did it. I felt the strength and positive energy of fellow survivors and supporters which made me want to keep walking. If you’ve never participated in a walk before, it is truly inspiring. That mattered to me because I felt at that moment I could recover from this diagnosis, and that I would be ok. I have been participating in the Cancer walks now for 10 years and I’ve even established my own team called “Breast Savers.” We now raise over $1000 almost every year to help others in their battle for survival.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Hearing the words, “you have cancer,” is very hard to conceive initially. Trust me when I say, even though you have to endure your own treatment to your own body, there are people who want to be by your side to encourage and support you along the way. It is a time that you have to surrender to the process and allow others in your life to help. I knew when I heard those deafening words 10 yrs ago, I would need encouragement and information from fellow survivors. Fortunately, I was able to find the Hawthorne Support Group. The strength I felt, the information I received, and the support they gave me, was invaluable. The slogan that I adopted for myself was, “life is worth the fight.”

Anything Else to Add?

I was fortunate enough to have my mother walk this journey with me. She’s shown in the picture She WAS and still IS my biggest cheerleader.

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Jackie

Type of Cancer : Breast 

Date of Diagnosis : 1/23/2021

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

I found out I had breast cancer on a Saturday morning. I received an email saying my pathology report is in My-Charts. I read the report and was devastated and scared. I honestly thought my world has ended. Thank God there was a doctor in family that read my pathology report and she able to calm me down. My mom died with breast cancer 23 years ago. The thought of having breast cancer was Horrific for me.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Cancer isn’t the end of the world. Keep the faith. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Anything Else to Add?

Join a support group that will help you through the journey.  You are not alone.

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Kay

Type of Cancer : Breast cancer with bone metastases

Date of Diagnosis : June 2001, March 2013, August 2020

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

Being a three-time cancer survivor I feel fortunate that today great advances have been made in cancer treatments.  When I think of the various treatments out there I have been able to put aside my anxiety.  In 2001 I started this journey and found myself at The Hawthorne.  Here is a place you experience great fellowship, have emotional support, and you can laugh as well as cry with those that are going through the same thing as you. During the times that I have been strong and well I have ventured away. Then when I am in need of emotional support I come back.  Over my 20-year journey Robin Yoder, our facilitator, has been here at The Hawthorne.  I doubt no other support group has had the same facilitator for this length of time.  It means a lot to me when I am in need that Robin is here.  She knows me.  She knows my history.  She knows the changes in care and treatment over the last 20 years.  I love the consistency that she brings to The Hawthorne.  I feel blessed that she and this support group are here for me.  Yes, here for me and all of this is available to anyone on this journey.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Find a support group that makes you comfortable and feel welcomed.  Support groups have members that have been through or going through your journey.

Anything Else to Add?

Find a support group that makes you comfortable and feel welcomed.  Support groups have members that have been through or going through your journey.

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Kimberly

Type of Cancer : Breast

Date of Diagnosis : 7/21/2016

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

Going to the Hawthorne Support Group Meeting was like coming to a new home. Unfamiliar yes until people started sharing. Then I could see that they could relate all too well to what I felt. And they could still laugh.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Don't just accept the first doctor they send you to. Go to that appointment to get your tests ordered quickly but then make appts with others. That is how I found the best oncologist and plastic surgeon.

Anything Else to Add?

You don't know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have

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Marcelia

Type of Cancer : Breast 

Date of Diagnosis : 12/18/2019

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

My aha moment has been a process in the making. From my initial diagnosis my mind kicked into gear as to what’s next?? I found a support group right away and I educated myself as much as possible. My mind was going a mile a minute as I moved through the process: my surgery, my treatment and finally ringing the bell. On April 7th... this was a Yahoo and dancing in the streets moment for me. An exact week after my ringing the bell, on April 10th, I watched my house burn down before my eyes. I stood there in disbelief, it was  unbelievable. I lost EVERYTHING! I only had the clothes on my back. This was my aha moment... I was still standing, with my family safe and my health. I knew then , that I had more of my  life to give...

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

This is your journey, unique to you. So take it one day at a time. Educate yourself and lean on your support group. Keep positive thoughts, vibes and humor in your daily routine. Remember: Relax. Relate. Release

Anything Else to Add?

Be patient with yourself. Live life. Continue to always love you.

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Wendy

Type of Cancer : Breast - Stage 1

Date of Diagnosis : 10/20/2020

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

I have not really had my aha moment. I know I can do this and I just try to get the best and most accurate information I can to survive.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

I attend the cancer support group every Wednesday night. I feel being in this is very important for everyone in this battle. No one should have to do this alone and everyone in this group is amazing!

Anything Else to Add?

I recommend the support group that is every Wednesday night. Everyone in the group is amazing and you feel loved knowing you are not doing this alone.

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Cynthia

Type of Cancer : Breast

Date of Diagnosis : 10/18/1999

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

My most emotional moment was at the Relay for Life survivor's walk. My family was there and we all shared a happy cry for making it through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. My hair was even starting to grow back in. Great memories.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Do whatever your doctors say you need to save your life. Come to The Hawthorne support group meetings ( virtual right now). The group of survivors will become your friends and you will learn lots from survivors who have been there before you.

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Jenni

Type of Cancer : Non Hodgkins Lymphoma

Date of Diagnosis : 9/11/1992

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

I was 9 years old when I was diagnosed with cancer.  It was a terrifying time, as you can imagine.  I remember being admitted immediately to the ICU from the emergency room, to a room full of machines and scary looking equipment.  The nurse looked at my scared eyes and told me that I didn't have to worry, that they wouldn't be using any of those for me.  An hour later, I was hooked up to half a dozen of them.  This was the moment that I realized just how serious it was, and that if I was to pull through to the other side I had to embrace the situation for what it was and fight with all I had.  My mother was there with me for every infusion, every surgery and procedure, every hospitalization.  She fought for me when I was too weak to fight for myself.  We never gave up, and 22 months later, we got to hear those magical words - "you won".

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Don't just accept the first doctor they send you to. Go to that appointment to get your tests ordered quickly but then make appts with others. That is how I found the best oncologist and plastic surgeon.

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Kelly

Type of Cancer : Breast - Invasive Ductal Carcinoma

Date of Diagnosis : 12/02/2020

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Because of this, I think that I've always thought that I would eventually be diagnosed. That did not make the diagnosis any easier. Following an abnormal mammogram and biopsy in November, I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma with lobular features on December 2, 2020. My world immediately shifted. A low hum began in my ears and I felt scared and overwhelmed. I had so many thoughts swirling around in my head that it was hard to focus on any one thing. I was worried about my children, my husband and parents, money, and surgery/treatment. These feelings of fear and worry have receded and returned multiple times throughout this journey.

 

Many things have helped me manage the negative feelings, including practicing deep breathing, positive self-talk, grounding exercises, and other mindfulness activities, but it's the people in my life that have made all of the difference. Throughout the early days of diagnosis and treatment plans, through two surgeries (a lumpectomy and a re-excision to get clear margins), and now in the beginning days of radiation, my tribe has rallied around me. They have sent countless cards, emails, and texts to check in on me. They have called and understood when I didn't want to talk or when all I wanted to do was whine. They have sent meals, cleaners, treats, gifts, and wine. They have gone to doctor's appointments with me so that I had an extra set of ears in the room. They are an amazing group of kind, strong, fabulous humans and I'm lucky to have them in my life.

 

One of my aha moments happened on the day before my initial surgery. I was scared and overwhelmed at the thought of surgery. I was afraid of the pain and scared of what I would look like afterward. Pretty much everything about it, from the IV to the guidewire placement to the general anesthesia, made me afraid and anxious.

 

On the morning before my surgery, I woke to find the fig tree in our front yard decorated with cards. A group of my girlfriends had gathered cards from my friends, neighbors, and colleagues, and with my daughter's help, had decorated my tree. It was a tangible message that I was not alone, that I was surrounded by love and prayers and people who truly believed that I could beat this cancer. It was truly beautiful! On the hard days, the days when I want to spend my time wallowing, I think about that tree and my tribe and it lifts me up. It helps me remember that I am strong, that I can do this, and that I have a whole lot of people supporting me along the way. It helps me remember that I am loved and blessed with beautiful relationships. It reminds me to lean into my faith. It reminds me of what is important.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

You can do this!! Lean into the things that bring you joy. Figure out ways to cope with the anxious moments. I use prayer and mindfulness exercises to help me manage the fear and worry. I also love worry stones and find them very helpful at the hospital and during doctor's appointments. Take it one step at a time. You are strong enough to do this!! You are not alone!!

Anything Else to Add?

Accept help!! Say "yes" when someone offers to bring a meal or clean your kitchen. People want to help and don't know what to do, so say "yes".Don't google things on the internet. Ask your doctors instead. Join a support group. It is wonderful to know that others understand what you are going through and have experienced similar journeys.

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Lea

Type of Cancer : Breast 

Date of Diagnosis : December1999

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 20+ yeas ago, it was exactly 3 days before my retirement from a major fortune 500 company. Which was one of the darkest days of my life. After the initial shock I was referred to a team of doctors who helped me fight the battle, because I always thought that cancer was a death sentence. After the process of facing this disease and completing all my surgery, radiation, 5year therapy medication treatment, life had  a new meaning to me. I attended support groups where I became close friends with others who also helped me along my journey. I felt I could contribute more to others that were recently diagnosed.  So volunteered at the Hawthorne Resource Center where I have met many friends and learned to appreciate each day as a special gift.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

Once being diagnosed with cancer one must keep in mind that each day brings new healing. Bravery and courage and support groups become your greatest asset in your journey. Cancer may have started the fight but you are going to finish it. As difficult as it may be try to stay positive. Always remember your illness does not define you.

Anything Else to Add?

What I have learned throughout my 20-year journey is that my strength is amazing and life is such a beautiful Blessing and that is my story!

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Melodie

Type of Cancer : Breast ER/PR Positive

Date of Diagnosis : 12/08/2017; 1/4/2018

Statement 1: With regard to your cancer journey, share a moment that mattered.

Prior to both of my diagnoses, God revealed to me in dreams what would be later confirmed by my surgeon that I had cancer and that it was in more than one place. But in another dream, He revealed that I would have ‘new breasts’.This was all before a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. In the midst of my journey, I adopted the mantra, “Fight2Win”. This mantra became my guiding force against all odds(and there were quite a few odds along this journey ). As a result of my faith and belief in my had a peace in my spirit that I would win in my fight against cancer because I knew that God was my healer.

Statement 2:  Share a word or words of encouragement to someone starting this cancer journey.

For someone facing the beginning of their cancer journey, I encourage you to find something to hold onto, to believe in, to motivate you, to challenge you or to push you to fight to get to the other side of this mountain! I had my faith! I refused to allow anyone or anything make me doubt that I wasn’t going to get to the other side. A great part of your healing and recovery is believing that you will! See you on the other side of your mountain.

Anything Else to Add?

When darkness tries to steal your joy, Just Breathe!  Turn toward the light, then get back into the fight for your life!

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