A Story from a Breast Cancer Fighter
I have this most wonderful, inspiring, wise, strong, witty, brave, glowing light of a friend who has been battling Stage 4 breast cancer for the past two years. Throughout her journey with this awful disease, she constantly uplifts all who are trying to be there to support her–she’s just that awesome–with her courage, her sense of humor, and her writing.
Last week, she shared with her friends this reflection on her battle with cancer. As always happens when I read her writing, I laughed a little and cried a lot and wished I could express myself in the same poignant, wise ways. I also came away with the sense that her thoughts should really be shared with as many people as possible. So, for the Mamas, sisters, girl friends, husbands, Dads, kids, and whoever else would read this and be inspired, Fran agreed that I could share her experiences with you. It is an honor for me to do so:
Cancer is such an odd companion. While I hate my disease, I have grown to embrace the journey. My friends and family are a constant in my life. Their support, help and love keep my feet moving forward one step at a time. It is the occasional stranger that gives me pause to reflect on the true goodness in our lives. Allow me to tell you about one of my strangers.
Dana Stellar is a former Northwestern Lehigh student that went on to graduate from Lehigh University in 2010. In addition to her many accomplishments, Dana was a cross country team member for Northwestern and Lehigh University. Her Mom and biggest fan (sorry Dad) was Debbie Stellar. Debbie Stellar was a tireless volunteer for her children’s athletic teams and a lifetime member of the Seaside Park Yacht Club. Tragically, Debbie lost her courageous four year battle to ovarian cancer in March, 2010.
To honor her mother, Dana organized the Steps4Stellar 5K Walk/Run. The Walk was held at Cedar Beach in Allentown, PA to help raise funds for families who are battling cancer. A scholarship fund was established in Debbie’s name. The fund was designed to help student athletes whose family suffers from cancer by fulfilling their dream of a college education.
Two weeks ago, I received an email that my three little athletes were selected to receive one of the scholarships. Through our local youth organization, Northwestern Youth Athletic Association (NYAA), my children have played a variety of sports. Hayden plays football, basketball, lacrosse and baseball. Tess plays field hockey, basketball and softball. Wyatt plays basketball and baseball.
Last Sunday at a NYAA football game, in the pouring rain, Dana, a friend, and her father waited patiently for me to complete my volunteer duties and walk off the field. We were meeting, in person, for the first time. As our eyes meet, we connected and realized…. I reminded her of her mother – volunteering for her children’s athletic team. Dana was my hope for the future – what I want my children to be. Our tears were stopped and replaced by laughter with the appearance of a 5 foot, 10 year old, covered in mud (somewhere hidden under there was Hayden) eating a cupcake. Then, she presented me with the scholarship funds for my kids. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement.
According to family and friends, Debbie Stellar considered her job of being “Mom” as the most rewarding. Sharing her battle, I understand the focus on hopes, dreams and the future, especially for our children. It is best summed up by this quote:
She has achieved success who has lived well; laughed often and loved much;… who has filled her niche and accomplished her task; … who has always looked for the best in others and given the best she had; whose life was an inspiration.
Debbie Stellar was an inspiration. We only have to look as far as Dana to realize she accomplished great things in her lifetime.
October ushers in Breast Cancer Awareness. Fran Ledeboer was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer on June 4, 2010. Nearly half the women diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in June, 2010 are now dead (SEER database). Cancer is an insidious disease; crafty, adaptable and uncaring. If you love a woman, please remind her that prevention is our best weapon. Please get a mammogram, ultrasound, MRI or clinical breast exam, if not for yourself, for the ones that you love. Remind all women in your life to do the same. Adversity breeds resilience and hope. Hope does matter.