Survivor Strong…

Sometimes the hardest thing about being strong, is being weak. That was the case for Rachelle Jones.

Rachelle is one of those strong people. She defines herself in many ways. Christian. Mother of two. Collegiate women’s basketball official. Former athlete. Picture of health. Super woman.

Cancer survivor.

But never weak. Always strong.

When she found the lump, she immediately contacted her doctor. She had never been sick in her life, but finding a lump has a way of injecting a harsh dose of equal measures panic and urgency into any situation.

In what surely felt like an out of body experience, Rachelle was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and began treatment. Life had changed.

That might be one of the most unexpected aspects of cancer—just how life changing it is.

But for Rachelle, it was not her own life that she was scared would change. It was the lives of her children—how would this affect her high school-aged son and daughter? She had always been the one with the answers. She had always been the one they could count on to be strong.

Seeing a person who has always given strength to others show any small sign of weakness, can be a rattling experience—especially when that person is your mom and the cause of the “weakness” is cancer. Rachelle didn’t want her children to have such an experience.  She prayed throughout her treatment that God would give her the strength to maintain a sense of normalcy for her son and daughter.

A year later, with the love and support of her devoted family and friends, Rachelle returned to collegiate basketball. Life was starting to return, not to normal, but the new normal. Rachelle is healthy, she is once again physically strong, but she is forever changed.

In this way, change was good. In this way, Rachelle is stronger than ever before. She came through a situation bigger than her own physical strength and she came through it stronger—mentally stronger, spiritually stronger.

That there are people who have enough strength to overcome and in doing so give us strength, is amazing.

Coach Yow was a giver of strength. It seemed she always had more than enough to go around.

The same is true of Rachelle.

Their greatest gift is that in the face of great adversity, they show us how to be strong, even when they feel weak.

 

To Donate to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, click here.

Beginning to End

We live in a result-driven society. A society that values test scores, win/loss columns, box scores, bottom lines. Results.

Maybe that is why so much of our time is spent thinking about endings. How many times have we heard “what is the end result?” or the “end game.” The end is when we get the results and the results are all that seem to matter.

But maybe, our focus shifts to the end not because of the results, but for other reasons. The end seems like a time in the future. An unknown time. A time that could be better than today. The end is somewhere that hope lives.

The end of cancer.

There are times the end and the hope are harder to see.

Katherine Peele is an architect and mother of twins. She was diagnosed in 2010 with stage 1 invasive breast cancer.  At the time, it was hard to think about the end. The beginning was so scary.

She was forced to face an opponent she never truly considered personally facing—cancer. The news came as a shock. Facing her own mortality, not through the lens of her own life, but from that of her daughters—the scariest part. What would the results be? What would the end be?

Katherine is thankful for the advances in cancer research that are allowing doctors to treat each patient as an individual. Each individual receiving custom care based on their specific type of cancer. Gone are the days of breast cancer’s being treated with a generic mastectomy followed by equally generic rounds of chemotherapy. There is a plan now. A plan that is yielding results, better endings.

It is hard for many to relate to the idea of cancer research. It seems abstract. It might even seem like it only applies to test groups, case studies, destined to be written in journals and filed on a shelf. Katherine, like millions of other survivors in America, can relate to cancer research, it is personal. It is the reason she is here.

Somewhere in the recesses of all of our minds, we know the importance of cancer research. We know it is saving lives. Yet, the thing that usually eludes us is that it might be our own life that it saves.  We know the statistics. 1 in 3 women will develop some form of cancer over the course of a lifetime. For a third of us, it will become personal. Too personal.

Katherine’s story gives us hope. The beginning was scary. The days had more questions than answers. But those days are gone. These days are filled with health and opportunities—to watch her daughters grow, to create memories.

The fight against cancer has a lot of days. We are now far removed from the beginning. As the days go by, research moves us closer to the end—the end of cancer. The day can’t come soon enough.

 

To donate to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, click here.