On June 13th, 2014 I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. I was a single mother whose youngest child had just graduated from high school. The world was my oyster or so I thought.

I tried to stay positive (at least around other people) and lean on my faith. I was ready to do whatever the doctors told me to do. I just wanted the cancer out of my body!

As the saying goes….It was the worst of times and it was the best of times.

The worst of times…

I had 16 chemo treatments over 21 weeks, a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery, and 25 radiation treatments. I had breast examined so many times that I should have started asking the doctors if they could have at least bought me a coffee first.

The night of my 12th chemo treatment I found out that my dad died. I was devastated to say the least. My dad was and still is a superhero to me. He was always there for me no matter what I needed which included is tasty chicken and rice soup during chemo. I was losing the fight that I had left in me and was ok with the chemo not working because then at least I could see my dad again.

The best of times…

On November 7th, my youngest daughter and I left Mercy Cancer Center after my chemo to go see Garth Brooks in Minneapolis. I am a HUGE Garth fan and I actually purchased my tickets during one of my chemo treatments.

Little did I know that making a sign would change my life forever! I truly believe that God (and probably my dad too) orchestrated everything that happened that night. After the video of Garth singing to me, taking my sign, and giving me his guitar went viral my life was a whirlwind. I had thousands of people praying for me from all over the world! I am an example of the power of prayer.

When I heard about the mission/adventure trip to Mt Kilimanjaro, I immediately filled out an application. I was so excited and honored to be chosen to go. I can’t thank my employer, First Citizens Bank, enough for the support that they have given me. Financially, I wouldn’t have been able to go on this trip without the employees’ donations.

I stayed at the Hope Lodge in Rochester, MN. The financial and emotional support is priceless. It was so nice to be able to talk to other cancer survivors that could relate with what you were going through. I am happy to be part of the first Hope Lodge built out of the United States.

I have been so very blessed through my cancer journey and I want to give back as much as I can. I know that going with Above + Beyond Cancer on this trip will allow me to do just that.

On January 12th, on Mt Kilimanjaro, I will be celebrating 2 years of remission! As Tony Arata wrote and Garth sang “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.”

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