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“Worry is an aggravation of the problem. Trust God, trust your doctor, trust yourself – keep your attitude positive.”

HUBERT ABERNATHY

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “I was diagnosed with cancer last fall. I was surprised that I didn't have an emotional or worrisome reaction as the itinerary was laid out: surgery? Chemo? Radiation? I am an older person and have found that worry is an aggravation of the problem. Trust God, trust your doctor, trust yourself - keep your attitude positive!

After the diagnosis, I had three surgeries. After the last one, the smile on my doctor's face brought a smile to mine. He told me I wouldn't need chemo or radiation, as he had gotten all the cancer out of me. After six months, I will need a checkup - my first at the end of April.

I am sure that I had one of the more curable cancers (bladder cancer), but it shows how the medical and care fields are gaining on the disease. I don't really feel like a bona fide survivor, as I didn't suffer horrible pain and side effects to therapy that occur with some of the aggressive cancers. I hope all cancer patients will keep their worry down and their attitude up!”

“Provide the support that is essential [to the patient]. Through this support-giving, [you will be] profoundly grief-stricken and frightened, but make it a point to take care of [yourself] so that [you can] be strong and present.”

MARSHA ACHESON

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Provide the support that is essential [to the patient]. Through this support-giving, [you will be] profoundly grief-stricken and frightened, but make it a point to take care of [yourself] so that [you can] be strong and present.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Marsha Acheson walked with her wife, Ruth, through her journey with pancreatic cancer in a way that cared for Ruth’s physical, emotional, and spiritual being, despite unspeakably difficult challenges.

Ruth’s cancer diagnosis started during a vacation in Florida. Within days, Ruth was examined, scanned, and diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, faced with decisions too staggering to wade through. Ruth did not want the treatment. She knew it would destroy her body and her spirit. Marsha supported Ruth’s decisions, holding in her grief and stifling her need to be with Ruth longer.

Ruth’s health was deteriorating rapidly, but she had two goals for the life she had left. The first goal was to travel ... to Wisconsin to attend and interpret for a national music festival. Ruth’s second goal was to travel to Brazil to visit a spiritual healer. Gravely ill, Ruth did gather strength and the momentum to travel to Wisconsin, and Marsha accompanied Ruth as she gave her final, beautiful performance. But jaundiced, barely able to stand with pain, Ruth moved forward to this strenuous trip to South America. Ruth made it to her destiny, but collapsed before she was able to see the spiritual healer. Amazingly, Marsha made the difficult journey to see the healer, serving as Ruth’s proxy. Running on adrenaline, Marsha searched for nurses to accompany Ruth and, finally, an air ambulance to bring her home. Ruth drew her last breath minutes into the flight home. Because of Marsha, Ruth had been granted her final wish.”

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“On top of all of those things, she is able to keep a smile on her face and on the faces of our patients.”

JULIE BEHAN

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Describing Julie as dedicated and hard-working feels like we are shortchanging all of the amazing work that she does on a daily basis with our patients. Describing her as the glue that keeps the patients on track seems more accurate. Of course, Julie provides patients with resources, but she also somehow manages to stay on top of the very large task of ensuring that those who have major transportation barriers can get back and forth to all of their appointments without issue.

“And on top of all of those things, she is able to keep a smile on her face and on the faces of our patients. Oftentimes, patients come to us feeling down because they are not feeling well, but Julie is able to get a smile and a laugh, which is why she is always busy. Patients look forward to seeing her, talking with her, and can have confidence that she is going to follow through if she offers them assistance. Navigating cancer can be difficult, but having her as a part of the team makes it so much easier.”

“He’s not a complainer. Never have I heard a ‘why me’ or ‘this sucks.’”

TOM BLANKEMEYER

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Tom Blankemeyer was living the great life we all hope for – working at P&G, had a great family, traveling regularly, and enjoying life – until that sunny day when everything changed. He had a seizure while in a canoe in rural Canada that resulted in a return to Cincinnati with a diagnosis of brain cancer. This diagnosis was followed by surgery, chemo, and radiation, and treatment again two years later when the cancer returned.

“During the 30 years I’ve known Tom and been a family with him, he’s not a complainer. That’s held true during this time. Never have I heard a ‘why me’ or ‘this Type equation here.sucks.’ As is typical of Tom, he’s thrown himself into getting involved and being a leader within brain tumor research, patient advocacy and fundraising. ‘Team Tip a Canoe and Tom Too’ is consistently a large, vocal presence at the Walk Ahead for a Brain Tumor Cure every fall, and Tom’s been involved with patient outreach and speaking regularly.”

“We felt the love of many – and tried to return that positive energy in any way we could.”

MIKE BOEHMER

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “A survivor is someone who lives a quality life despite dealing with a disease.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: You are loved by many people who will support you in many ways.

“During our cancer journey, we were supported by many caring organizations. We felt the love of many – and tried to return that positive energy in any way we could.”

“Although dealing with these issues is stressful, she is always smiling and positive.”

ROBIN BOYD

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “A survivor is committed to quality of life.

“Recently, a patient could only find nausea relief with one particular medication, which he needed several times a day, but his insurance company would allow less than one pill a day. Robin personally took this situation by the horns. By the time she was done, the insurance company had approved three pills a day, which provided tremendous comfort to the patient and his family.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Stay positive.

“Robin is providing excellent support for our patients in these situations many times a day. Although dealing with these issues is stressful, Robin is always smiling and positive. Sometimes she will even sing a happy song to the clinic with her amazing voice!”

“Savor them. Be in the moment. Enjoy them.”

SHANNAN BOYER

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Shannan Boyer lost her father to small cell lung and brain cancer in February 2016.

“Fighting cancer is like being on a roller coaster. There will be highs, and there will lows. They will need you more than anything on the ‘low’ days; but the ‘high’ days are the most precious, and for me, were the most rare. Take advantage of those days where they feel strong, where they feel ‘good.’ Don't let them slip past you. Savor them. Be in the moment. Enjoy them.”

“She was there in his grief and helped to deal with the tremendous loss.

SUSAN BREWER ASHCRAFT

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Although handling her own battle against cancer, Susan was a tremendous source of strength for Dale, her husband, when his son was diagnosed with cancer and eventually passed away from the disease. She was there in his grief and helped to deal with the tremendous loss of a child. Although Susan herself passed away in 2013, Dale wanted to acknowledge her as a hero, as his wife was ‘the closest thing to a perfect human being that he has ever known.’”

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“I’ve learned that the happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything.”

JESSE & SANDY DITMORE

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “Sandy is positively spirited in the midst of her cancer journey. When my mom hears people say, ‘I wish I could be as happy as you,’ she says, ‘You can be. It’s a choice. The first thing to be thankful for every day is that you woke up.’” Jesse is proof that this outlook Sandy has is being reflected in the actions of her son.

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “I’ve learned that the happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything. It’s like blessings keep coming to my mom. We stay strong and thankful.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Jesse Ditmore is the creator of Sandy Strong, a project that has galvanized the K-6 students at six elementary schools in the Forest Hills school district to write nearly 1,000 inspirational cards and letters. These messages of hope are delivered to people suffering from Alzheimer’s, staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and undergoing chemotherapy.

“In the fall of 2012, Jesse was watching an Indianapolis Colts football game on TV. He noticed a fan wearing a ‘Chuck Strong’ T-shirt to support head coach Chuck Pagano, who at the time was battling leukemia. ‘I can do that for my mom,’ Jesse thought. He designed his shirt and convinced his dad to take him to a local T-shirt printer. Three weeks later, Jesse arrived at Sherwood Elementary and was surprised to find most of the staff wearing his T-shirts. The Sandy Strong project had started to catch on. But it was just the beginning.

“Soon after Sandy’s cancer returned in 2013, Jesse noticed a new school secretary, Mrs. Tammy McCalla, celebrating with co-workers. It was the anniversary of her breast cancer survival. He wrote a touching letter to Mrs. McCalla, congratulating her on her recovery and telling her about his own experience. She invited Jesse to join her and a school counselor for lunch. It was then that the Sandy Strong project really came to life. They decided to get classmates to draw pictures and write letters for those in need. Jesse even began promoting the program by sending letters to celebrities, like Katie Couric and Ellen DeGeneres, with whom he hopes to share his experience one day. ‘I know for a fact,’ says Sandy, ‘that Jesse’s goal in life is to make sure that other people are happy and that he sees the world through positive eyes.’ Jesse’s evolution as a caring young man is one of Sandy’s greatest gifts from her cancer journey.”

“She was the same Gina: busy, positive, and prayerful.”

GINA DONOVAN

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Gina was a mother of four and widowed at a young age. When she got her first cancer diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma, she accepted it, took treatment, and went on taking care of her kids and running her landscaping business.

“Several years later, she married a wonderful man and life was good. But she received a new surprise: a breast cancer diagnosis. Through surgery, chemo, radiation, she was the same Gina: busy, positive, and prayerful. After several recurrences she still has a positive, accepting attitude. She's an inspiration and a joy to be with.”

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“Cancer has taught me the language of love for myself. It has also helped me to understand so much about my life and about the people that I love. I can now offer help to others making the same journey.”

OLABISI FAULKNER

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “I want people to know that you are not alone.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer July 2014. My world came crashing down. I am a single mom with two beautiful daughters ... and I have no family or support in the United States. I found a lump on my breast ... and told myself it was nothing. My fiancé told me that I needed to call the doctor right away. I went to the doctor and he biopsied it. The result came back, and it was the news nobody wants to hear: ‘cancer.’ I was very angry and could not understand why this was happening to me. I started thinking nobody would want to talk to me because I have breast cancer, but I was wrong. Most people I met really cared about me and wanted to help me. I had a lumpectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and 30 rounds of radiation. My doctors were very caring and helped me with my fears. Cancer Family Care became like family.

“Cancer has taught me the language of love for myself. It has also helped me to understand so much about my life and about the people that I loved. I can now offer help to others making the same journey.”

“Get your family involved with giving fun to others living with cancer.”

SUE FLYNN

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Get your family involved with giving fun to others living with cancer.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Susie has lived with breast cancer, and now helps other women live more fully when they are faced with breast cancer. When she was battling the disease, she was a recipient of a vacation from the Karen Wellington Foundation for living with breast cancer.

“Upon returning, she has become a dedicated member of the KWF Giving Committee, which helps give fun to numerous women who are living with the disease. It is part of the healthy cycle of receiving and giving. She volunteers with a smile and has great credibility with the recipients. Susie has ‘been there before,’ and recipients like seeing a smiling face that belongs to one of them.”

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“I know that most cancer survivors come away with a rich and deeper gratitude for so much of life, even in the smallest things, like the beauty of a tulip or aroma of fresh coffee.”

PETE HEALY

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “Surviving is seeing the smaller things in life.

“I know that most, if not all, of us cancer survivors come away with a rich and deeper gratitude for so much of life, even in the smallest things, like the beauty of a tulip or the aroma of fresh coffee. A survivor is a person who, through a particular struggle, has been given the chance to be more mindful.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “However difficult it may be, take it one step at a time to keep your mind calm and your spirit strong.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Two months before our wedding, I was diagnosed with stage 2 non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which had spread into my chest. It was a second marriage for both of us. Instead of a honeymoon, I began a treatment protocol of both chemo and radiation. In every chemo session, the nurse gave me a popsicle to offset the side-effect of burns to my palate as the mix circulated in my bloodstream. But in one session, the impact of the chemo was too strong and I became severely nauseated – and for several years afterward, I’d get nauseous again just from the smell of lime, the popsicle flavor I’d chosen in that session. That took care of margaritas for me for a while! But in the end, I made it through treatment. I’ve been in remission for 21 years – and thankfully, lime is back on my ‘favorite flavors’ list!”

“Even though I know my cancer will never go away, I am still a survivor. I am a thriver. Most of all, I’m a Metavivor. As long as my heart is beating, I will never give up.”

JUDY HILL

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: A survivor is someone that faces the worst, but continues to see life in a positive light.

“Even though I know my cancer will never go away, I am still a survivor. I am a thriver. Most of all, I’m a Metavivor. As long as my heart is beating, I will never give up.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: Don't waste today worrying about tomorrow.

“Seek someone to support you and who knows what you’re gong through when the world seems lonely.

“What a wonderful sign of hope to have someone to share our ups, downs, fears, and at scan time every six months, someone to pray with for clear scans, and celebrate when they are clear.”

“Surviving cancer is so much more than beating the disease.”

DARRELL HORNBACK

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “It was May 2014 when I heard those words: ‘You have cancer.’ The focus became finding good medical care, looking at my options; which doctors, what cancer care centers had the best reputation, how radical do I get, my family, and if I will be able to support them like I always have. If I survive, what will my life be like? Will I be a burden to my family, and will society have to take care of me?

“It was almost too much to bear. I had a supportive family, a life partner that was there for me every step of the way; and when the point came when I was ready to give up, she stepped it up a notch. All this was taking a toll on her physically and emotionally. My mental state was so bad I could not even watch the evening news. I needed help beyond the radiation, chemo, and constant IV fluids. I needed expertise beyond the fantastic medical staff I had at OHC.

“Then that help came. Juliane was that bright light at the end of a very long and difficult tunnel to navigate. She helped us both maneuver those twists and turns that battling cancer brings to not only the one that has this terrible disease, but to the family caregivers as well. I was one of the lucky ones. We beat my cancer. I can never repay Juliane for what she has done for me. Just a few times in life can someone touch us in such a profound way that they are forever in our hearts. Juliane has that special place in mine. Surviving cancer is so much more than beating the disease ...”

“Build a support team to get you through this.”

DEANNA HOUGH

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “A survivor is someone who perseveres.

“A survivor is a person who is able to put aside bad circumstances and focus on what can be done to change those circumstances.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “A survivor is someone who perseveres.

“When you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you and your support team need to focus on medical options, not the emotional pain of the diagnosis. Our advice: Be proactive. If you don’t understand a doctor, make him repeat the information until you do, and build a support team to get you through this.”

“I know that my experiences help me in providing support and compassion to those we serve."

CAROL HUBER

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “It’s strange that the word ‘survivor’ doesn’t hold special meaning for me, even though I have survived cancer twice. I am most grateful that I am healthy and cancer-free. I believe I’m at higher risk of having breast cancer again. I live with this knowledge, but this isn’t something that has a hold on me.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Know that this is a limited time period in your life, and advances in treatment save so many lives.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “I think about my cancer experiences, and it is part of the texture of my life. I’m so fortunate that my last breast cancer diagnosis was 15 years ago, and the first diagnosis was 12 years before that. I remember thinking that after my mastectomy and reconstruction while I was undergoing chemotherapy, my job was to walk, heal, and get stronger.

“As the clinical director of Cancer Family Care for the past 17 years, I have had the privilege of working with many individuals and families dealing with cancer. It is therapeutic work for me, and I know that my experiences help me in providing support and compassion to those we serve.”

“She is quickly able to identify patient needs and take the appropriate action to respond timely.”

JILLIAN HUNT

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Ms. Hunt’s tireless efforts to improve the lives of her patients is mixed with professional dedication, passion for her work, outstanding technical skill, and an absolute commitment to continuous and selfless patient care. Specifically, Ms. Hunt makes those she cares for her highest priority. By making herself readily available and easily accessible, she is quickly able to identify patient needs and take the appropriate action to respond timely.

“Jill provided great comfort to my mother, Georgia, a stage IV lung cancer patient, and to me, Georgia’s daughter. When my mother’s life was coming to an end, she had only a few requests: that Jill Hunt and Dr. Philip Leming remain her medical providers, that she be able to go inpatient to Hospice of Cincinnati ... and that Jill would not leave her until her journey was complete. Jill ensured all three of mom’s wishes were carried out. Most importantly, Jill did not leave Mom. After a long day of caring for patients in her clinic and office, she came and sat with Mom at her bedside, just like she promised, and has remained available to talk with me after her death.”

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“She has done all of this and more with a constant smile, positive attitude, and selfless gratitude.”

LISA KAMINSKI

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Lisa was diagnosed with stage 3 vaginal melanoma in February 2014, almost two years after she joined the board of directors of Melanoma Know More. Upon receiving her diagnosis, she opted to take a positive route and went on local TV a very short time later to share her story with all who would listen. Her goal was to raise awareness about melanoma. She has done all of this and more with a constant smile, positive attitude, and selfless gratitude.

“She is always thinking of others and rarely focuses on herself. According to Leanne, ‘Lisa has taught me that life is about giving; giving kindness, love, and time to others no matter what the situation may be.’”

“When a cancer diagnosis happens, you have three choices: You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you."

JOHN KENNEDY

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “When a cancer diagnosis happens, you have three choices: You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you. John chose the latter. Despite watching both of his parents battle cancer and suffering the recent loss of his little sister from the disease, John accepted his Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis with poise and personal determination. He drew strength from the outpouring of love from family, friends, and co-workers. He openly encouraged his wife and sons to share their feelings with their peers. He continued to live his life moving forward at a pace that worked with his treatments.”

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“It is because of my husband, my caregiver, that I am able to continue.”

MIKE MANGINO

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: Small acts of kindness can have an incredibly lasting impact. When Jen Mangino thinks about survivors, she thinks about her husband, Mike.

“Perhaps the most important thing that Mike has done throughout this cancer journey is to normalize my life and the life of our family. He works full time, does laundry, cleans our house, makes dinners, and continues to coach our boys’ soccer teams.

“A life with cancer is still a life. And surviving takes strength, courage, and love.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “If you can be present, you can witness how others are helping you at every step of the way.

“Mike drives me to and from chemotherapy treatments and doctor appointments without making me feel like a burden. In fact, he tells me that it is just more quality time that we get to spend together.”

“She has never shied away from telling her own breast cancer story to raise awareness and offer support.”

DEE MARKLE

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Dee is a tireless advocate for cancer research. She has been a volunteer with the American Cancer Society for over 20 years, and has served as a Reach to Recovery volunteer and supported other breast cancer support programs. She has chaired the Relay for Life and has raised countless dollars for ACS research programs. She is a positive influence to those around her and has never shied away from telling her own breast cancer story to raise awareness and offer support.”

“They helped me by being there at a time when I had nowhere else to turn.”

LISA MCCOY

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “When Lisa McCoy’s ex-husband and father of her two children was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, she turned to Cancer Family Care for help.

“Cancer Family Care helped me by being there at a time when I had nowhere else to turn. My children found out their dad was sick when he collapsed at home and needed to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. He hadn't wanted to tell them of his diagnosis. I turned to my Cancer Family Care counselor to help me explain to them what cancer was, how sick their dad really was, and how to help prepare them for the possibility that he might not get better.

“Matt passed away a little more than a month after we first met with our counselor. It wasn't nearly enough time to prepare them for the loss they suffered; but with her help, I was able to surround them with the love, support, and structure they needed to start to work through the pain. In addition to counseling, my boys have also attended Cancer Family Care’s Camp Courage twice. The first time was only two months after their dad died, and the second time, a year later. They were at two totally different stages of their healing process when they attended, but both times, I felt the day was a huge success. It is a place where they can go and play games and have fun, but also a place where they know all the other kids understand what they are going through. That is something I can't offer them at home.

“Cancer changed our lives. Cancer Family Care has helped us live through those changes.”

“I would not be a survivor if the prayers, love, encouragement, support, and dedication were not surrounding me.”

JASON MERKLE

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “Surviving is appreciating every second you’re still breathing.

“The word ‘survivor’ is a blessing that far too few people get to claim or experience. I would not be a survivor if the prayers, love, encouragement, support, and dedication were not surrounding me. To be a survivor is an honor and a privilege; to whom much is given, much is expected. It is very humbling when I see so many people suffer and not make it.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Research and plan your future, not your funeral ... All things are possible!”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “When the doctor shared the tough news with me, he suggested making a bucket list. I refused to do so, and instead told the doctor that I would make it. He shook his head and said, ‘I hope you are right.’ Eighteen months later, I was cancer-free!”

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“My blinders had been taken off, and I could see life for the simple, quiet beauty that it is.”

JUAN MICHAEL OLIVERA

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “To me, it means much more than simply not getting voted off the planet. The answer to that question can be as wide and varied as the spectrum of cancer itself.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Be your own best informed advocate. Know you have the right to say yes or no to what is done to your body and to exercise that right, because it’s the only thing you can control.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “We fast-forward through 28 sessions of uncomfortable radiation, my shoulders and neck now purple and red, the skin dry and crispy. But, the tumor was gone, and I had also been changed. My blinders had been taken off, and I could see life for the simple, quiet, beauty that it is. In coming through cancer, I had learned much, enough to become aware of the gift it had all been, and having survived, to live gratefully.

“On my first checkup afterwards, I thanked everyone for all the studying, late nights and student loans they went through so they could be here now and save my life. On the second or third post-treatment checkup, sitting with just my radiation oncologist ... [I told him] about this epiphany I’d had – my world/life view had completely changed. He smiled knowingly and said, ‘I know. All my patients who go through this have that experience. That’s why I do what I do; I love to see my patients bloom; its beautiful.’”

“Don't be sad for me; I'm not. Don't feel sorry for me; I don't. I can move mountains. My eyes are wide open to the joy that is life.”

MELISSA MYERS

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Melissa has been battling cancer since 2013. She has had a rough past and pushed through a lot of obstacles in her way. In order to get treatment, she had to face her past head on, and it wasn't easy. During treatment, it was a very rough road and complications occurred, but she has always had a positive attitude and made it her mission to spread the word. She is a single mom of five boys and she amazes Judy, her mom, every day. Melissa’s motto is ‘don't be sad for me; I'm not. Don't feel sorry for me; I don't. I can move mountains. My eyes are wide open to the joy that is life.’”

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“She lifted all of us up with her perseverance and strength, with her total dedication to her family through the tough times.”

ANGELA PASCALE

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Provide inspiration to those fighting the [cancer] battle and give loving, moral support through friends and family that patients need to finally reach that survivor status.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “I’ve known many cancer patients (I was one myself), but I’ve never known one who took on the disease with such zeal, humor and positivity as Angela Pascale did and continues to do. As a married mother of two and a small-business owner, a breast cancer diagnosis could have caused a lesser person to retreat into fear and solitude. Instead, she approached it with a certainty and aggressiveness that left the cancer no choice but to be defeated! She lifted all of us up with her perseverance and strength, with her total dedication to her family through the tough times.

“As I watched and spoke with Angela during her journey, I know that I’ve never been more proud of a friend or fellow human being for her bravery and determination in the face of a cancer diagnosis. I also know she will continue to be an inspiration for fellow cancer warriors, and more importantly, for her children, who get to grow up with their mom, one tough broad and cancer survivor.“

“A survivor is one that has defeated all odds against something that would have normally… torn them down.”

JOYCE PENA

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “A survivor is one that has defeated all odds against something that would have normally or believed to have otherwise torn them down.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Take it one day at a time and remain positive!”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: ”My hair started to fall out in the shower about a week and a half after my first chemo infusion. As devastating as it was, I wanted to share the moment with my family; and the next day, I had my husband and my kids each take turns to shave it off! It was important to me to show them that although the next few months were going to be tough, we would make the best of it, that I wasn't scared, and we would all hold strong together.”

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“You will be scared and you will be angry, but if you let yourself, you will also be loved and uplifted, and those are the emotions you want to carry you through the journey.”

KEVIN REYNOLDS

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “Survivor is a label I wear proudly, but with an aching sadness ... I’ll always wonder why I survived and they didn’t, but I will try to honor their courage and spirit every day.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “You will be scared and you will be angry, but if you let yourself, you will also be loved and uplifted, and those are the emotions you want to carry you through this journey.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “I believe each cancer journey is unique. Mine didn’t involve chemo or radiation or hair loss. Mine involved surgery, dialysis and a kidney transplant. What is unique is each person’s perspective of their journey. I’ve watched friends and family struggle with the side effects of those treatments ... and I’ve thought, ‘I’m lucky that I didn’t have to deal with that.’ Perspective is a beautiful thing.”

“The word ‘survivor’ does not only mean someone who lives on. It’s about suffering with a purpose and enduring the battle before him/her with strength, fortitude and grace.”

KYLE REYNOLDS

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: A survivor is someone that has the strength to keep going, even when times are tough.

“The word ‘survivor’ does not only mean someone who lives on, but it also means someone who has overcome life-threatening tribulation. A survivor is someone who never concedes what others tell him or her is inevitable; a survivor fights adversity even in the face of moribund statistics and circumstances; a survivor believes in a power greater than himself or herself; a survivor sometimes does NOT survive − sometimes a survivor inverts the stereotypical meaning of survivor and dies while fighting his or her nemesis all the way to the end. Surviving is not just about living on − it’s about suffering with a purpose and enduring the battle before him or her with strength, fortitude, and grace.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Your job is to fight this disease with all the vitality left inside of you — you cannot save yourself, but you can be saved.”

“Holding hands when times get dark is what will help you make it through.”

ROSE ROSS

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “A survivor is someone that, whether alive or passed on, has impacted the world in such a big way that their memory survives through family and friends.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Lean on your family members when the times get hard. Holding hands when times get dark is what will help you make it through.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Cancer sometimes affects those that least deserve it. My great-grandma, Rose, was the kindest person you ever met. She was the type of person that could turn a bad day into a great day with just a hug. She made incredible chocolate cake and was always willing to go out of her way to do what she could to make you smile. Everyone was family to her. After a long, difficult battle with leukemia, Rosie passed away; but to this day, she still survives; her spirit still present in her many family and friends.

“Cancer sometimes affects those that least deserve it. My great-grandma, Rose, was the kindest person you ever met. She was the type of person that could turn a bad day into a great day with just a hug. She made incredible chocolate cake and was always willing to go out of her way to do what she could to make you smile. Everyone was family to her. After a long, difficult battle with leukemia, Rosie passed away; but to this day, she still survives; her spirit still present in her many family and friends.

“The Ross family started a nonprofit called ‘Rosie’s Angels’ to give back to the cancer community and to support others fighting this difficult battle. Her name lives on in auctions, nursing-home visits, and golf outings; and her family and friends give back to the cancer community as she would have wanted. Rose made a huge impact on many people while she was living; and her generosity, compassion, and love are still felt to this day. Rose is a survivor in many ways and will continue to be far into the future.”

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“Just surviving cancer does not make you a survivor. Not letting cancer change who you are and defeat you as a person makes you a survivor.”

KELLI SCHOENING HOLDEN

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “In my opinion, just surviving cancer does not make you a survivor. Not letting cancer change who you are and defeat you as a person makes you a survivor.

“Despite three major surgeries, chemotherapy, and more complications than you could count, Nick never lost his will to survive or his positive attitude. It was usually him comforting me and others during his journey.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Be hopeful and keep faith that everything will be okay.

“He always had a smile and his doctors said he fought harder than anyone they had ever seen ... He showed all of us that no matter how bad things seem, there is always something to be grateful for, and life can be good if you want it to be.”

“As a very proud mom, my words to other moms of kids with cancer: you are also a survivor.”

JILL SETTLEMYRE

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: Being a survivor is giving back to those that are struggling with similar situations.

“Throughout the years, he has volunteered in his school and community. He has shown that giving back is how he exemplifies being a survivor. He used to tell people with cancer that if he could survive – so could they!”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “There are more survivors than just the patients.

“As a very proud mom, my words to other moms of kids with cancer: ‘You are also a survivor!’”

“Be a positive light for your caregivers, your family, and all patients with cancer.”

PATRICIA STONE

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Patricia previously dealt with breast cancer many years ago and now is battling stage IV lung cancer. She brings a positive force and energy to the clinic. Her outlook and demeanor provide energy and a sense of happiness to the staff that carries over to the staff’s interactions with other patients throughout the day. Regardless of her problems and issues, she always has a smile on her face and an infectious optimism. She supports her children and grandchildren by attending many of their events and ensuring that they know she loves and supports them.

“To help all cancer patients, Patricia entered a clinical trial over a year ago to evaluate a new drug called Nivolumab for the treatment of lung cancer. Because of her participation, this drug was able to be approved for all patients and help so many others. Thank you, Patricia, for being a positive light for your caregivers, your family, and all patients with cancer.”

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“Keep your head held high, spend time with and talk to those you love, and never regret a thing.”

CHAD TAYLOR

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “A survivor to me is a person who lives life no matter the circumstance until the inevitable happens.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “From the inception of the news to whatever happens, keep your head held high, spend time with and talk to those you love, and never regret a thing.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “From the day that my father was diagnosed, he was never showed discouragement from news. He did the things he was still able to do throughout the course of treatment and lived life until his last breath.”

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“When I went into chemo, the doctor said, ‘You’re going to come out cured’ – and he wasn’t wrong.”

BARBARA VAN SETTERS

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “Like the world has opened up and is giving you a second chance. Of course, I’ve have had three chances so far.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “You have to believe that you can beat it. You’ve got to work at it."

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: Barbara was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was very aggressive and had potential to invade the brain. Chemo and surgery were suggested to cure the cancer. “I was scared to death in the beginning, but the doctor was so nice ... When I went into chemo, the doctor said, ‘You’re going to come out cured’ – and he wasn’t wrong.”

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“Cherish every day and every moment. Do what you love with who you love, and make wonderful memories.”

CYNDI WENCK

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “A survivor is strong, brave, and fearless.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Cherish every day and every moment. Do what you love with who you love, and make wonderful memories.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “My mom battled with breast cancer for eight years. She always remained so happy and joyous, despite having days of being sick and tired. She stayed involved in our lives and activities. She always had dinner prepared; she did everything with a smile on her face. She never once showed any weakness or got angry. She was just so happy, always laughing, and smiling. It's truly amazing despite everything; chemo every week, being sick, losing her hair, being tired. She always remained cheerful.

“We were gifted during all this, a gift from the Karen Wellington Foundation. They provided us with an all-expenses-paid trip to Cancun, Mexico. It was a wonderful experience for my mom and our whole family. We got away from everything; no chemo, no needles, no being sick. We were in the warm sun, living carefree. My mom even said later, reflecting on our trip, that while we were there, she forgot she had cancer. It was such a beautiful thing. So I say enjoy every day, every moment. Do new experiences and make memories. It's what you get to look back on and remember. Smile about the good times, not the illness. I have those memories treasured always. That, and the beautiful mother I had. With her long blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and the smile for days. Perfect, just how she would want to be remembered. Cancer doesn't defy you; it's how you choose to live and love!”

“Beating cancer is only a part of surviving, but to truly live your life afterwards; that is surviving.”

KITTURA WICKERSHAM

Q: What does the word “survivor” mean to you?

A: “A survivor is more than just living through something. Beating cancer is only a part of surviving; but to truly live your life afterwards, that is surviving.”

Q: If you could share one sentence with someone going through a similar experience right now, what would you say?

A: “Surround yourself with your family and true friends. Going through cancer has really helped me to find those true friendships, and it has been surprising.”

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “On Dec. 23, 2013, two days before Christmas, I received the diagnosis that I already knew: cancer. I was 36, married, and had three kids. But I just knew that I would end up with it at some point in my life. My mother had it, and she was diagnosed younger than I. Then she had it again 30 years later. So in the back of my head, I always expected it. I went through six rounds of chemo for a 3-centimeter tumor. I then had a double mastectomy. My doctor was shocked that the tumor had shrunk to 1 millimeter. As far as reconstruction, I received the implants, but decided on a different route after that. I got a tattoo. A large one. It covers both mastectomy scars and my port scar. I decided on a phoenix. It represents me surviving and emerging as a new person.”

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“I encourage others who are going through cancer in their family to get this support and understanding that I have found nowhere else.”

GINNY ZIMMERMAN

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “My husband, Zeke Zimmerman, and I learned of Cancer Family Care through oncologist Dr. David Draper when Zeke was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in January 2014. They helped us set up counseling one of the CFC counselors who worked with individuals, couples, and families who were affected by the diagnosis of cancer.

“After unsuccessful radiation, chemo, and surgery to eliminate the cancer, Zeke and I became clients of Cancer Family Care to cope with our feelings and to prepare for eventual death when it became clear that further chemotherapy could only stave off the seemingly inevitable decline. Mar was our counselor, and helped us in a very supportive, insightful manner. Zeke was not someone who usually enjoyed opening up, but he became increasingly respectful and trusting of Mar’s work with us. She helped us learn how to give expression to our raw feelings about impending death and did it in an honest and straightforward manner with much respect and compassion.

“We decided to vacation to Key West, but two days after we arrived, we ended up at the Keys’ Clinic Emergency Room, where he was immediately helicoptered up to Kendall Regional Center in Miami, with a diagnosis of subdural hematoma, or bleeding throughout the brain, due to a fall. He lived about a week after that, which gave us all a chance to gather to say goodbye in this place far from our home, with no church, community, or family and only a few friends to support us.

“Mar was and has been very important to the process of grieving that followed. It really helped that she knew Zeke and our relationship and offered the same loving, straightforward, and very supportive counseling. Family, friends, and community are very important, but many people do not understand the grieving process and feel very uncomfortable in its presence. Mar was able to normalize many of the feelings and thoughts I was having, could listen empathetically without discomfort, and walked with me through a grief method that has been powerful in its healing.

“People are amazed when I tell them of Cancer Family Care’s offerings and support. Several have wished this had been available to them during their time with cancer. I encourage others who are going through cancer in their family to get this support and understanding that I have found nowhere else.”

“People like her don’t come along every day, despite her claim that she is ‘doing what anyone else would do’.”

BONNIE ZINK

Q: Do you have a unique story about yourself or a family member going through a cancer experience that you want to share?

A: “Bonnie’s husband, Brian, was originally diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor in 1998 and has received multiple treatment modalities over the years. Bonnie has been not only his wife and best friend but also his case manager, primary caregiver, and patient advocate supporting all of his needs.

“Over the last several years, Brian’s situation and care have become very complicated due to many changes in his treatment plan and frequent visits to the cancer center. She [Bonnie] has fought ... to get Brian the chemotherapy, radiation, surgical treatments, and necessary equipment ... to improve his quality of life. As his primary caregiver, she attends to all of his physical needs. As his best friend and wife, she attends to the emotional ones.

“We truly believe she is going above and beyond the call of duty. We want her to know how amazing she truly is and that people like her don’t come along every day, despite her claim that she is ‘doing what anyone else would do’ in her position.”

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