The 2018 Survivor Ambassador Award winners! 
 
Survivor Ambassadors are women who have displaying the internal beauty that comes from walking through life’s trials with grace, courage, and hope. 
Criteria: Awardees are women who have experienced the Hope Lives supportive services program.  The Awardees are community Ambassadors who speak of the benefits of the program sharing their personal cancer story and discussing self-esteem, self-image, and self-respect.

Daniel Michael

I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma on April 6, 2017.  I was 47 years old at the time of my diagnosis. The stage of my diagnosis was 2A which was verified when I had a lumpectomy following chemotherapy. I’m still receiving treatment.  I used Hope Lives resources for acupuncture during treatment which was incredibly helpful.  Acupuncture helped with nausea and neuropathy and most importantly helped me feel relaxed.  I also attended some of the support groups -- being around other women going through treatment and women who were survivors was helpful for me.  Leah creates an atmosphere that allows people to let down their guard and share what is happening emotionally. 

Valerie Higgins

In October 2016 at age 61 I was working full time as a physical therapist when I was diagnosed with Stage 2B.  I’ve finished taking aromatase inhibitors.  Hope Lives has helped me feel well enough to work part time during all my treatment; and I never threw up which was my main goal.  Acupuncture prevented that from happening!

Mandy Mercer

I found my breast lump when I was 5 months pregnant with my daughter. I was 34 at the time. The results came in the day after Valentine’s Day. It was triple positive invasive ductile cell carcinoma in both masses and one lymph node. A PET scan would revile the cancer was only at the biopsy sites making me stage 3a.   Hope Lives has given me access to co-therapies my insurance didn't cover and I would not have been able to afford on my own. I received help from Sage Holistic. They were able to treat me with acupuncture, nutrition, and supplements. Hope Lives gave me the opportunity to live my life more and enjoy my children in a way I don't think would have been possible without their services.  The things they provided for me made such a difference other patient asked me what I was doing. I was so happy to refer them to Hope Lives!

Cecilie Richmond

My husband and I noticed a small bump just below my right clavicle in late April 2017.  Since my body is allergic and hyper-reactive with an autoimmune disease, we assumed it was a flare or allergic reaction.  My primary care provider alerted me to feel two other "bumps" that were determined to be cancerous tumors.  On Friday, June 9th, 2017 I was diagnosed with stage 2b triple positive breast cancer.  I was 37 at the time.  When I first entered the Hope Lives office, I knew I was safe to feel my feelings.  I felt warmth and genuine compassion upon meeting Peggy, then Mary and Leah.  I remember the welcomed tears shed as a wave of relief rolled through my body.  When I felt sad and mad that cancer treatment was separating me from my family, the Hope Lives support group taught me that I am not alone.  I found comfort and relaxation during facial treatments with Linda Marriner at Kindred Souls.  Past, present and future, I am most grateful to Leah Barrett.  From my first office appointment, my first support group experience and as a therapist, Leah is a living testament to the fact that Hope really does Live, no matter what!  

Noriko Garofalo

On April 11, 2017, my primary doctor called me and said, “You have breast cancer.” I was 60 years old. My initial reaction to the sentence of breast cancer was like a big bomb dropping onto my head.  I could not control myself that day and cried whenever I found myself alone.  My initial diagnosis was Stage 1, but a lumpectomy resulted in a 2.5-millimeter cancer found on a lymph node.  Now Stage 2, I was told to go through chemo & radiation treatments.  The Hope Lives program helped me through treatment a lot.  On the first day I met Leah Barret in the office, I was given a bag of comfort for breast cancer patients: a hand-made shawl, mints, tissue-paper, chap cream, etc. I felt warmth, care and love in each item.  I met Joanie, a Reiki Practitioner. Joanie has helped me stay strong physically, mentally and spiritually.  The generosity and services given by Hope Lives made my cancer journey much easier than anyone can imagine.  

Laura Shiel

I was diagnosed with Stage 2B about 2 years ago, March 2016. I had moved to Fort Collins from Hawaii in mid-January 2016, so I didn’t really know anyone here yet and hadn’t found a job yet. My husband was away doing ecological fieldwork on a remote Caribbean island with no cell service, just a satellite phone from which he had to call me. I felt really alone and devastated. I’ve completed my treatments and in the process of reconstruction. My diagnosed with breast cancer changed your life immensely.  Hope Lives has been really helpful.  I really wish I would have taken advantage of the services it offered sooner.  I would really like to help bring awareness to what Hope Lives does, to help potential donors and providers learn about it, to help potential clients learn about the program so they are able to take advantage of the services as early as possible.  

Bandi Hamilton

At 37 years I had just started working full time after being at home for 7 years.

Right after I began my new job I was diagnosed with Stage 3c.  I couldn’t work full-time during my treatment but little-by-little I got my strength back.  I’m still receiving treatment and will finish May 11! 

It was a huge wake up call. It still feels like it was a (bad) dream. It has made me focus on the really important things and letting go of the unnecessary stuff. Hope Lives has been a great tool in finding support whether through the support groups in finding others going through the same issues and helping find relief in providing support (through providers for house cleaning, massages, acupuncture). 

Nicole Rockwell

At 31 years old and going through the tail-end of a nervous breakdown, severely depressed, but on the mental mend I was diagnosed with Stage 3C I found out until post BMX about Her2+ diagnosis, a late stage diagnosis.  I started radiation at the end of April and will be receiving final implants & oophorectomy this fall. My diagnosis came at a pivotal time in my life and I needed to realize how much I needed to approach life from a new perspective. Hope Lives gave me the opportunity to try services I've always wanted to try, but never made the time nor the finances to do so. It also gave me awareness of the compassion within the community of local organizations and their desires to be a stronghold for us women in a dire time. The Hope Lives support group has been especially meaningful

as truly I believe my journey would have been a lot different had it not been for the opportunity to meet local women going through similar treatment. 

Katherine Gregory

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 46.  I am single mom with full responsibility of my amazing 2nd grade daughter. Through early detection with a mammogram, I was fortunate to discover my breast cancer in the early stage known as DCIS (Ductal carcinoma in situ).  DCIS is considered the earliest form of breast cancer and it is noninvasive, meaning it hasn't spread out of the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast.  I had a double mastectomy last June and the doctors are confident they removed all of the cancer cells and I did not have to have radiation or chemo.

As a single mom, getting cancer was earth-shattering.  I am so grateful that my path to recovery was easier than most.  The team and services provided by Hope Lives was invaluable throughout my process.  In a time of serious financial stress, Hope Lives enabled me to get the help and support I needed most.  The providers who partner with Hope Lives give comfort and healing touch... I can't say enough about how much I appreciate Hope Lives and what they do for women like me.

Ali Holloran

Life, at the time of diagnoses was pretty darn good.  I was diagnosed at age 45, stage 2A. 

I am a full time working mom with 2 beautiful girls and a great husband.   It has made me sit back and take stock, savor the little things...I am working very hard to be present...although I have to say it is hard, and it is a work in progress.  Hope Lives has afforded me the opportunity to become educated about services available at no cost and reach out and receive alternative treatments that helped me get through the hardest treatments.  They are a wonderful resource and just knowing I was not alone in the fight brought me a lot of comfort as well.  

Mary Lou Sorenson

I was first diagnosed at age 34. I was and am still married to my husband, Kent, 48 years in July. I was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I was in and out of remission for the next 25 years. I had a stem cell transplant in 2009 that finally left me cancer free for the next 8 years, then 1 year ago this month I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that had spread to my spine and bones.  I am currently being treated with hormone therapy. The doctors tried chemotherapy and after a few weeks my counts became dangerously low, after a bone marrow biopsy they told me my bone marrow was too damaged for anymore chemotherapy. I was stunned by the diagnosis as I truly thought I was done with cancer.  Hope Lives has been a great support for my husband and me. A friend told me about Hope Lives after my diagnosis, she had used it for her battle. I have found the provider service to be great! I use my vouchers for housekeeping help, what a gift! I went to a support group and was so impressed by all the women, amazing! I am honored to be an ambassador and so appreciate the opportunity to be useful. And when I was diagnosed this time "Hope" became my mantra, so it seems to be a fit. I pray together we can help each other and anyone we can reach through this wonderful organization!

Jennifer Schmeeckle

On March 14, 2017 at the age of 46 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Stage 2B ER+ PR+ HER2 negative.  At the time of my diagnosis, I was working behind the chair at my salon, loving my life, my family and my friends.  I’ve learned so much about a subject I never wanted to study.  I have completed chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and reconstruction.  I am living life with a new sense of gratitude. It’s been a gift to fully appreciate the things that I had taken for granted prior to my diagnosis. I was told about Hope Lives from a fellow chemo buddy. At the time I was feeling as though everything had been taken from me. My hair, my energy, my body, and savings.  The Hope Lives program let me take care of me.  I truly felt blessed by the generosity and kindness offered with every voucher. The providers that I used gave me the strength and will power to keep fighting. The Hope Lives program was a bright beacon of light helping me navigate my diagnosis.

Jill Kuhn

In the summer of 2016 I was 48-years old and one-day shy of my 19th wedding anniversary when the radiologist who reviewed my ultrasound came in and told me I had breast cancer. It was initially flagged on my annual screening mammogram.  I had to ask her to repeat the first sentence she said about being certain I had breast cancer as I was in shock. After a core needle biopsy and lumpectomy and sentinel node removal 2-weeks later, I was told I had stage IA Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). About 15% of women who have breast cancer have triple negative breast cancer.  Chemotherapy was my only option, in spite of having such an early stage malignancy.  Hope Lives is such a fantastic organization and I want to let every new breast cancer patient know about it. I would not have been able to afford the excellent services Hope Lives so generously provides, as I had a high medical deductible to pay off. The Hope Lives providers have such a special place in their hearts for breast cancer patients. One feels so vulnerable when going through cancer. The Hope Lives providers didn’t pity me, but rather wanted to nurture and care for me. I enjoyed many massages, which gave me the gift of forgetting about my cancer treatment for a while. I also received individual survivorship coaching over several months once treatment ended. I was also blessed to meet other women going through breast cancer in Hope Lives monthly support group lead by Leah Barrett. It has been a gift to listen and talk to other breast cancer patients and survivors who understand what I am going though in a way no one else can. This organization truly shows us that Hope Lives!

Jenn Vervier

In July 2015, my GP found a lump in my right breast during a routine physical. It had been 4 years since I had remembered to schedule a mammogram.  I was 47 years old. I was deemed to be Stage 1B, because of suspicious cells in the sentinel lymph.  Both my left breast and lymph node were removed.  My breast reconstruction saga took 8 surgeries over 2+ years.  During one surgery a bump was biopsied.  My plastic surgeon saw another one he thought should also be checked out. Ironically, the one the oncologist thought suspicious was just scar tissue, but the other one, which was in my reconstructed breast, near my first tumor, was found to be cancerous.  I had additional surgery to make sure it was excised and to take out another lymph node for good measure in December 2017.  This diagnosis is Stage 1B recurrent.  While the treatment is generally a huge drag, having breast cancer has made me more introspective and I hope more kind, especially to myself!  It puts annoyances and grievances into perspective.  What really matters--the amazing support of friends and the caring provided by Hope Lives partners.  The healing treatments I’ve received because of Hope Lives are something to look forward to every week.  And I think my dogs are pretty appreciative of the delivered dog food!  What really matters--the amazing support of friends and the caring provided by Hope Lives partners.  The healing treatments I’ve received because of Hope Lives are something to look forward to every week. 

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