I am a wife, step-mom and 37-year-old police Sergeant for the City of Newburyport. My story begins on a quiet winter night in bed, when my dog stepped on my chest, leading me to find A lump that ultimately was determined to be Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I was seen at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. I underwent chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, radiation, reconstruction and oral chemotherapy follow up. My family, friends and community rallied around me throughout treatment. I found Tough Warrior Princesses after looking up local cancer support groups. Despite having people to help me, I desperately wanted to connect with others who were experiencing what I was going through. TWP became my lifeline. Each time I saw a member of this group, I felt lighter. The load that cancer brings became easier to bare. With each event I attended, I found friends, community and love. Simply put, TWP restored part of me I thought I lost. It is my honor to serve on the board with such humble, dedicated and hard-working women. TWP has moved mountains myself and others, I only hope I can return the favor.
Cancer and I have an understanding. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. (Yes, I love Kelly Clarkson’s song!). But in reality, it is the truth. Twelve years ago today I became cancer free. My breast cancer diagnosis was scary and I was only 36 and knew no one who had fought this disease. I met this amazing group of women and have laughed and cried and shared and taken for the past 8 years.
Life is a gift, open it, cherish it, live it. Just when I believed I had won and cancer and I could part our ways, it came knocking again. This time it was my eight year old daughter who had neuroblastoma. That year was the darkest year of my life. Worse than my own diagnosis. Losing a child is unimaginable and soul destroying. Through it all, this group lifted me up, supported me and my family. These woman are my family.
I have an ongoing relationship with Cancer now. This past May my Mom succumbed to stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. My whole world just keeps getting smaller and this group is my lifeline. Currently my best friend is living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She is my age and I have survived this cancer for 12 years, while she continues to fight for her life. Life is not fair. How do I reconcile that? How do I accept the joy of life when others aren’t as lucky?
I believe I have been given this opportunity to live because I can share optimism and hope and light. I choose to find a way around the obstacles. I choose to create space for learning and love. I choose to help others who have lost the will to help themselves. Thank you Tough Warrior Princesses for always reminding me of who I am.
Tina Journeay is a founding board member of The Tough Warrior Princesses. Her light and optimism, despite unspeakable tragedies, is astounding. She is the true definition of a warrior. We are so lucky to know her and have her as part of this organization.
I am approaching my 1 year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. I never thought I would hear those words. Me? That can’t be right! I don’t have a family history, there were no signs!!
It changed my life and made me see clearly what is important. What I thought was the worst thing that could happen to me, turned out to be the best thing that happened to me.
I found out who truly were my friends and was surrounded by the TOUGH WARRIOR PRINCESSES, for whom I will be forever grateful for being associated with for the past several years and honored to serve on their Board of Directors. Maybe that was my sign? Maybe I knew subconsciously I would need them one day? What ever it was it gave me strength, it gave me the courage to change my career after 30 years and it gave me hope. I am the happiest I’ve ever been.
Be vigilant ladies and don’t loose sight of regular check ups. Early detection can save your life.
Most importantly always remember the meaning behind the pretty pink ribbon.
Blog Author - Judy Dodier
Judy is a realtor for Stone Ridge Properties. She is an active member in the community serving on many boards and involved in many locals events. She is a board member on The Tough Warrior Princesses and we are very lucky to have her energy, light and enthusiasm guiding us! The fact that she joined us and helped women fighting cancer before she knew she would have to fight herself is a testament to her selflessness.
I have been forced to adopt an unwelcome familiarity with cancer.
As I write this, I am thinking of friends and family members who have battled or are currently in treatment for a seemingly impossible list of cancers: breast, ovarian, uterine, lung, bone, throat, blood, lymph system, liver, prostate, thyroid, skin and brain, to name just a few. To make matters worse, two of my close friends recently introduced me to the sarcoma family of cancers, adding one more ugly profile to this enemy invader. Not to mention the metastatic diseases that can result from these cancers of origin.
For these survivors and their families living day to day with cancer, it can be a revolving cycle of fatigue and pain. Many cancer patients measure time from scan to scan, endure stressful and sometimes damaging treatment protocols yet still somehow manage to find innate reserves of faith, mustering up hidden stores of strength to keep a sense of normalcy in their daily lives. I am humbled by their power in the face of these challenges.
In the past year alone, I’ve been invited to participate in or write checks for numerous walks, runs, bike rides and other fundraising mechanisms raising money for cancer study and prevention. All of these worthy and well-meaning charity efforts serve to raise public awareness and each is a critical catch basin helping to finance larger efforts to find a cure.
Of course, I will continue to dig deeper into my pockets and hit the trail whenever I'm asked. But I am also ready to do more. It’s time to take a new kind of action step. I have turned a corner in my relationship with cancer.
For me, this means connecting on a deeper level. I’m seeking a richer and more focused commitment, so that I can deliver my support and possibly make a difference in the lives of others in a way that I can measure more personally. I want to play a bigger role in an effort, not only as a friend or relative of a cancer survivor, but as an active advocate for cancer support. I want to take my seat alongside a team who shares similar goals.
I'm grateful to have found a place to exercise my giving back muscles within a small, but mighty non-profit organization located right here in my community. Run by a colorful and talented cadre of women, this group has welcomed me, and I’ve come to realize how meaningful and limitless this experience promises to be.
Aptly calling themselves, Tough Warrior Princesses, they know first hand what it means to LIVE with cancer. Many are courageous survivors themselves, as well as mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, wives and daughters of people who have been touched by cancer. Together, they have laughed, cried, and held each other up against this terrible danger. They have also experienced the darkness that comes with losing some of their own. What makes them so beautiful is that they have never stopped loving, working, playing, fighting for, or dreaming of a world without cancer. Enthusiasm and hopefulness are the only options they will consider.
It’s a great honor for me to have been invited to join their ranks and I look forward to discovering useful ways to contribute. In such a tenuous world, I know that whatever life holds in store, I will be better off facing the future with the princesses by my side.
~Anne E. Richardson
P.O. Box 643
Amesbury, MA 01913
The Tough Warrior Princesses are committed to providing support and resources to women impacted by cancer and to raising funds for cancer research.
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