breast cancer survivor

A Tribute to Jenny Stark: Breast Cancer Suvivor

She walked into the Prayer Room of Community Church, Orange, Texas, where we had agreed to meet.  Her beauty could be described as “the look of Barbie.”  She had a smile that lit up her face, soft curls in her neatly coiffed hairstyle, and her eyes glowed and twinkled as though she had something exciting to tell me.

Thus began my four year adventure with Jenny Stark, 40 years of age at the time, telling me her story for Created Woman.  It started with the day she received a phone call from her Doctor saying: “I’m not going to beat around the bush—you do have breast cancer.”   

At the close of our first meeting, I asked Jenny, “What part has your faith played throughout your journey?”  

“My faith tells me that ‘This is Just A Season’.”

For this article, I asked some of Jenny’s special friends to describe their journey as they traveled this season with her.

Carol Cash: Cousin/More like a sister/Friend

I can't even express how in awe I have been of Jenny's courage these last few years. Jenny NEVER ceased to be the positive, up-beat individual that she's always been. We went on a trip to Boston while she was still recovering. She was determined to take it all in and not let it slow her down. Her joy is contagious and I am humbled to have her in my life.

Chandra Best

Jenny is my baby cousin she is 10 years younger than I am. I look at pictures when she was a baby where I carried her around on my hip and pushed her in doll carriages. She was like our live little baby doll. She has always been so upbeat and bubbly her entire life. When our family found out about her breast cancer, it was devastating. Jenny has such a strong faith and she has been so courageous from the beginning of her journey and has continued thru each battle she has faced. Jenny, her mom, my Aunt Mary, my sister Carol and myself went on a trip to Boston not long after Jenny had a major surgery. She was hurting and was bandaged but she got up every day and did her best to have a good day and enjoy the trip. At the end of the day she would start slowing down, but never complained. I have such love and pride that she is my cousin. She is a shining example of someone who always sees the glass half full not half empty.

 Kaye Sims

I was so honored to walk beside Jenny during her breast cancer journey. I remember clearly the day she called several over to her house and told us she had cancer and hugged US as we were sad. Looking back I realized she was the teacher and perhaps I was the student on how to handle rough situations. Not thinking it was possible to handle this like she did, often times I thought she was just in denial or not fully understanding the magnitude of her illness. Soon I learned it was not denial, it was facing trials head-on knowing she had God leading the way. Although the journey was more difficult than most know, she set the bar so high for the rest of us when trials come our way.

 *****

 Jenny, thanks from all of us at Created Woman for sharing your story with us the past five years. Certainly, you are an example of what this website stands for: Becoming all God created you to be, even in the midst of adversities.

And to all of you, our readers: Happy Thanksgiving. May God bless you and your family abundantly during this season.

To read Jenny’s story in full, click the following links beginning with the first.

October 9, 2010: “This is Just A Season”

October 12, 2011: Paying it Forward

October 29, 2012: Thought Control: Jenny Stark’s Story Continued

October 15, 2013: No Matter What

 Jenny Stark

Thought Control: Jenny Stark’s Story Continued

This is the third in a series highlighting 42 year-old Jenny Stark’s story during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Jenny is not only a survivor of breast cancer, but one who still has the same class and faith as she did the first day I interviewed her three years ago. If you are not familiar with Jenny’s story, you will want to read This is Just a Season and Paying it Forward, the first and second installments respectively. The first covers the time period when she first learned of her cancer, what she went through, and how she handled it. The second was how she chose to use her disease to help others.

Previous stories about Jenny have been penned by me based on interviews with her.  However, when I called Jenny for an up-date this year, it became evident to me that a sit-down interview with a list of questions was not needed.  I sensed that Jenny could pen her story straight from her heart.

And so, in her own words that follow, Jenny shares her heart.  No doubt, it is the heart of many who have walked this path.

Jenny’s Words

Will there ever be a day that I’m not thinking about my cancer…

Early diagnosis, seems, as if to, occupy your every thought. You’re constantly making conscience decisions to take that next step.

Sometimes that next step may be to get up when what you want to do is lie in bed all day and have a pity party. So, you say out loud,  “Thank you God for my life.  I’m stepping out on faith today and I’m standing on Your word.”  God will meet you where you are, but it requires action on your part.  So put on your best smile, have a good attitude with plenty of gratitude and get going.

Enthusiasm is the result that others will see.  When they see you and know your circumstances, what a privilege to have that kind of mission field, some that others will never experience.  Your journey is a witness to the fact that in spite of what you’re walking through, there is life.

The key to retraining your thoughts is to stay busy (if possible) and continue doing normal activities, such as working, exercising, cooking or driving.  Yes cooking.  For those of you who like to cook, like I do, you know what I’m talking about.  As you go about your business, you overcome a hurdle in your mind, where you realize by the end of the day, that you didn’t think about your condition as much.  Over time, the more distance you put between your life now and your diagnosis, it will erase those fears and concerns that once stole your joy.

Cancer is like an amputation, you learn to live with it, but you’re never the same.  Eventually you will be done with treatment and surgeries and you will be at a point in life that is summed up best as a “slow fade.”  You will not feel 100% all at one time, but every day is a new day with new possibilities and it, too, is a choice.  A choice to choose, that this uphill climb is behind you, and you are well on your way to the new you.

Your life may take you to another level with different goals, with different people, all for the Glory of God.  What may have seemed important 5 yrs ago may not even be a thought today.  Don’t worry about what may change.  Don’t anticipate…Participate!

Mostly, find yourself in a win-win situation, where no matter what happens, you win.  Those thoughts will cast out all fears and you will see clearly.  In fact, your mind will wonder what it was so anxious about in the first place.  That is God’s peace.

As the words of a song point out:  “Let my life be the proof…The proof of Your Love”  So others will see the proof of Christ’s Love [in you].

So, let Jesus run circles in your mind, so that He touches your every thought.

Fighting Like a Girl, Jenny Stark

Beauty is Brave-Judy, revisited

This time last year, CW introduced you to Judy Kassaye, a thirty-something vibrant woman who had won her battle with breast cancer. After a double mastectomy, with her faith leading the way, Judy did more than survive the diagnosis and months of chemotherapy. The months in and out of doctor's offices and hospitals fueled a fire inside this dark-eyed beauty. Rather than avoid cancer treatment centers like the plague,  she decided to enroll in nursing school with a  dream to become an oncology nurse. Her purpose:  to affect the lives of other women forced on the journey of breast cancer.

 

Cancer free for one year and eight months, she was accepted to nursing school on April 13, 2011. Two days later, she and her oncologist celebrated the news together. In the same visit her doctor's  fingers  found a small lump.

On April 18th , history repeated itself and Judy was once again, diagnosed with cancer; stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.  Although she had already lived the experience of  diagnosis and scheduling chemo treatments, her initial reaction was to be numb with shock. How could this happen again? Why should this happen again? Ironically,within two days of her diagnosis, she was notified that she was awarded a scholarship to nursing school. Her dream collided with her past and Judy wrestled with her new reality.

 

 

On Easter Sunday, with her eyes wide open, Judy's understanding of life became wider and deeper.

I'm a Christian so Heaven is home and it's disease and grief free. I can live on earth with God in my heart or I can live in Heaven with Him. It's win, win. Either way He gets the glory.

All that said she continues with,"I've decided to fight for my life. I believe I have a God-given appointment to finish nursing school so I don’t see myself going to Heaven before then."

Each day Judy inspires her friends, acquaintances and strangers with her optimistic attitude. Speaking engagements are opening up for her to share her story and she  is writing a book. Her goal is to share her life lessons with everyone she meets.

To read the original blog on Judy, go to:

http://www.createdwoman.net/woman/when-beauty-conquered-the-beast

Life’s speed bumps and collisions can leave us with tire tracks on our back from being run over by life or we can let God leave a distinct Fingerprint on our heart. When we yield to His purpose He prepares us to love and empathize with those He sends our way.

 

October Monthly Wrap up

Every Year the month of October turns Pink.  Everywhere you look pink products line the shelves of stores, celebrities walk pink carpets and pink ribbons flaunt everything from t-shirts to fingernail polish.   No matter where you live, all sorts of fundraisers and benefits pop up all around the city to help find a cure for the disease that has affected every woman. October is known nationally as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Austin

In Austin, the 2nd annual Stiletto Stampede for the cure benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation dashed off on Saturday, October 16th.  Hundreds of women met at the Hill Country Galleria for the high heel dash (100 yards) with a mission to encourage young women and men to know and understand the risks of breast cancer and empower them to prevent the disease by utilizing overall Breast Self-Awareness through early detection, screening methods and education.

http://www.stilettostampede4thecure.org/

Hollywood

Celebrities showed up in droves a month early in September for the Stand Up to Cancer Telethon.  The star studded benefited raised resources for breast cancer as well as all kinds of cancer.  Christina Applegate who is a breast cancer survivor was just one of the celebrity survivors who answered phones for Stand up for Cancer this year.

Nationally

But one of the biggest fundraisers happens all year round.  The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure takes place all throughout the country and it’s not too late for you to register for one.  For over 25 years, The Komen Race for the Cure Series raises significant funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates breast cancer survivorship, and honors those who have lost their battle with the disease.

If you would like to register for a race near you, click here for all the races throughout the year.

Think Pink!

"This is Just A Season"

My friend Jenny's heart-felt story of dealing with her breast cancer.