There’s Life After…

by Gigi Ross on October 17, 2013

breast cancer survivor

At this time last year, my sister-in-law, Cindy, was waiting for her November double mastectomy surgery after being diagnosed with breast cancer in July.

She’s had to do a lot of research, ask a lot of questions, own her treatment and recovery.

One of the people that was a resource to her was my friend Wendy Nielsen. Wendy has been a resource to a lot of people – probably more than she’ll ever know. She writes about a lot of different themes on her blog, but she uses it in part to educate and help others with breast cancer, or those who know somebody who has it.

In the late summer, she told me she was thinking about doing a special blog series on breast cancer. When she shared her idea with me, I was really excited about it. I encouraged her (okay, maybe I harassed her a bit) to do it and to think big, because this was something different.

It wasn’t tips on prevention, or shilling pink merchandise or walking you through what to expect when you get a mammogram. That stuff is all out there already. She found twenty women to share their stories of survival, and the hope they have for what lies ahead.

I needed to read about hope, because this past season has found too many of my friends and family looking cancer in the eye. Even if you’re not the one with cancer, I think sometimes it can feel like cancer is just…all around you. Smothering you and your loved ones.

I visited Wendy’s blog 2 weeks ago when she launched her series.
I was absolutely blown away by what she had managed to pull together. Gripping stories that had me hanging on every word.  Seemingly insurmountable challenges and yet, inspiration and hope. Always, hope.

I asked Wendy how this series came about.

I spent most of last summer working with a therapist. While I was there to talk about other things, it seems all roads lead back to breast cancer. You see, five years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and while I’ve been plugging away at writing my new story, I’m still plagued with indecision.

One afternoon, my therapist was pushing me hard to answer some questions about what I want from my future. I’ve been in a limbo for several years; wanting to move forward with life’s big plans but waiting for the “all’s clear” to pursue those plans. For me, I get through one set of check-ups but it’s not enough of a confirmation for me to start motion on the things I want to do with my life. So, I wait and wait. And now, it’s five years of being afraid of what I’ve been through and scared of what lay ahead.

The therapist then asked a question that blew my mind. She asked if I knew any breast cancer survivors who have had long term survival. Women who could show me that life eventually gets better and decision making becomes easier after a diagnosis. I didn’t. So, I told myself that I was going to find some survivors to model,  and my October survivor stories series was born.

I encourage you to take some time, head over to Wendy’s blog and read some of the powerful stories she’s collected and curated for you. And I’ll bet there’s someone else in your life who could benefit from reading the stories, too.

breast cancer survivor stories


Marta October 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I’m constantly surprised how many people that I know who have been affected by breast cancer in some way.

Sara October 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm

You are SO right Gigi, Wendy has helped more people than she will ever know. She’s amazing!

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