At this time of year, we naturally reflect back on the many cancer survivors that we have had the honor of “meeting” over the past 19 years. We have also been blessed with an amazing staff, nearly half of whom are survivors themselves. We thought it’s about time we introduced you to some of them, as each one has a powerful story to tell!
Choose Hope Survivors – Mary’s Story
While Mary has been a valued part of our team for eight years, her story started long before that. Sadly, she came by her breast cancer genetically. Her mom died of breast cancer when Mary was just 15. Mary knew she was at a higher risk that most other young women, but it still came as a shock when she, herself, was diagnosed at the young age of 40 (ironically this was the same age her Mom was diagnosed), She had a lumpectomy and radiation. Thinking she was good to go, Mary went on with her life.
Eight years later, while looking forward to celebrating her 10-year cancerversary, she was again diagnosed with breast cancer – a different type this time around. And what happened next was truly a blessing in disguise.
Mary was asked to be in an MRI study for breast cancer patients. Ironically, the study included imaging of both breasts (something that wouldn’t typically happen with BC patients). The MRI found a lump in the other breast that turned out to be malignant as well. Mary was now living with two stage 3 cancers.
She opted for a double mastectomy because of her history. Surgery was followed by 26 weeks of chemo and six weeks of radiation, a challenging protocol to say the least. She was officially given the green light for ‘no evidence of disease’ in early 2008.
Life After Treatment
Cancer has given Mary a better appreciation of all that life offers – When asked what she took away from her cancer journey, Mary replied, “I take nothing for granted anymore. Attitude is everything and while I still have dark days, I simply take life one day at a time.” Her spare time is spent on her ranch working with younger children teaching them how to ride and care for horses. She has a positive, pay it forward attitude, and it shows in everything she says and does. Sharing her beautiful animals with others is her way of giving back for the kindnesses given to her when she was young.
Mary loves to sport her pink bling! Nothing makes her happier than when she is dressed from head to toe in pink, a walking reminder to anyone who sees her. She is a strong advocate for all cancer patients and currently sits on a committee at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, the same place where she was treated. She continues to educate herself and others on a regular basis.
Mary packs orders here at Choose Hope with more love and compassion than anyone we know. She often includes hand written notes and drawings in the packages just to brighten someone’s day! She’s kind, like that!
So three cancers and 19 years later, Mary is grateful for all that life has given her. She truly embodies the spirit of someone who can take lemons and turn them into lemonade. All of us at Choose Hope are better people for knowing Mary.