Hope Lives Ambassadors
Ambassadors are women and men who have received integrative care support through the Hope Lives program while in treatment for breast cancer. As an Ambassador, they speak to the community about Hope Lives, share their personal story and how Hope Lives services, products, and supportive care has enhanced their lives while going through treatment.
April Van Buskirk
Age of Diagnosis: 45 Stage: 2
After what I thought would be a routine mammogram, I was diagnosed with aggressive stage 1 breast cancer on August 13, 2018 at age 44. When the nurse told me I had cancer, it felt like an out of body experience - as if I was watching this news being delivered to someone other than myself.
Things moved very quickly from there, and I was rushed into a foreign world and an unknown subculture created by cancer’s affliction. From diagnosis to surgery to recovery, chemotherapy and surgery again – cancer has been a lifestyle for 8 months. There was a pamphlet about Hope Lives in the information from my doctors. Leah was the first person I met here, and she was so healthy, joyful, and warm; she was and continues to be an inspiration. Cancer is an expensive disease and I couldn’t work during treatment, so I was fraught with gratitude every time I used a voucher. READ MORE...
Age of Diagnosis: 29 Stage: 2
I found the lump in June 2018. A friend’s mom had just been diagnosed. I noticed a lump and it felt weird. My partner tried feeling for it and it was very small. I started having a mix of emotions. We had a big vacation planned for August. Everyone told me to just go get it checked and I said not until after vacation.
I also thought “I am only 29… 29-year olds don’t get breast cancer! The lump became more noticeable and bigger. We went on vacation and the day after we returned I called and made an appointment with my doctor. She told me the same things I was thinking “you are too young and have no family history but let’s do an ultrasound.” READ MORE...
Holly Sowitch & Angela Lovell
Holly's Age of Diagnosis: 70 Stage: 2
Angela's Age of Diagnosis: 46 Stage: 1
August 9, 2018 I was diagnosed with cancer in my left breast. I felt stunned, surprised and scared at they explained by cancer. As the weeks went by, I had biopsies, a Lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation with hormone blocking agents to follow. Shortly after I was diagnosed, my daughter Angela was also diagnosed with breast cancer who had a mastectomy and radiation.
We began our journey, supporting one another. It was a blessing. READ MORE...
Age of Diagnosis: 60 Stage: 1
“Interrupt Anxiety with Gratitude” has been my mantra this past year and Hope Lives played a big role in reducing my anxiety and replacing it with gratitude through their caring and support. I found a lump in early March 2018 and luckily had my annual mammogram already scheduled 3 weeks later.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on April 13th, had a lumpectomy on May 18th and met Jennifer, a 2018 Ambassador, in the surgeon’s waiting room at my post-op visit. She encouraged me to contact Hope Lives and filled me in on Hope Lives’ mission. Jennifer has been an inspiration to me throughout my cancer journey, even graciously volunteering to shave my head following my first chemo treatment, making the traumatic event of losing my hair so much more tolerable and comforting. READ MORE...
Age of Diagnosis: 65 Stage: 1
I found the tumor on our anniversary; March 3, 2018. I went to the doctor right away and she said this doesn’t feel good. I had a mammogram, testing, biopsies. I felt fortunate that all of the technicians were upfront with me and told me they felt it was cancerous before sending the biopsy off.
I had my surgery at Banner Fort Collins and then decided to try Porter Adventist in Denver. I stayed with my friend, April, through August and did my chemo in Denver. I missed Northern Colorado because I hike almost every weekend even in the winter time, so I really missed it. Denver made me feel claustrophobic. I missed NoCo so much I returned and to do my radiation treatment. I’ve continued to go back-and-forth between the Front Range and Denver. Leah was so kind and helpful working all of that out. READ MORE...
Age of Diagnosis: 31 Stage: 3
I was diagnosed in May 2018. A year earlier, in May 2017, I had felt a lump and made an appointment. The physician felt the lump and said it was nothing even though my mom had been diagnosed a few months prior at Stage 0. As it turns out, that lump was cancer.
Chemo was definitely a bad adventure, but I was surprised at how hard radiation was – the degree of burns that lead to bleeding. I still receive a “chemo-lite” cocktail and I get 14 infusions of this since my cancer didn’t completely respond to neoadjuvant chemo. I didn’t want to hear my prognosis numbers after surgery. I ended up seeing them because my doctor shared clinical trial findings with me that pertained to a new treatment to increase my changes of squelching the cancer. When I did see my prognosis statistics, I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to get that new treatment and I’d do whatever it takes to get it, even leave the country! READ MORE...