Our “A Calendar to Live By” features survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Vanessa!
45, diagnosed at 43
2nd degree relative with breast cancer
No known genetic mutation
A wife, mother of three, and housing director, Vanessa had been getting annual mammograms since age 29 (when a benign lump was removed), and supplementary ultrasounds due to “lumpy” breasts had become routine. This time, however, the radiologist was called in for a “peek,” and a biopsy two weeks later found malignant cells. Vanessa opted for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and chemotherapy to treat her stage 1 breast cancer. She recalls being comforted by the images in the calendar she received in the mail from H4TG upon diagnosis. “The women were around my age – they were smiling and surviving. That calendar gave me hope.” She soon learned that her daughter’s day care director (Ms. August 2019) was a member of Beyond Boobs! Virginia became a lifeline and best friend and gave her the bracelet with the words that Vanessa tattooed on her wrist, “Live Brave.” Like her character Rapunzel, when Vanessa lost her hair, she gained insight, strength, and freedom. “It’s hard to even remember who I was before…yet it is too soon to know who exactly I am now. I do know after fighting cancer, I feel I can take on the world, and I want to empower other women to fight cancer on their own terms.”