Exposing Hope 2017 | Kim Kirkman

“[Hope is] to trust that good things will happen.”

Kim Kirkman’s diagnosis changed everything about her life. She no longer worries about the simplest things, like making sure the floor is swept every day. However, she does make sure she lives every day like it is her last by never missing the chance to say, “I love you” or not allowing fear to stop her from taking a chance. 

She believed she appreciated life and loved deeply before her diagnosis in 2010, but nothing compares to the way she embraces those same things now.

Exposing Hope 2017 | Katrina Robinson

“Hope for me is the potential for better.  Knowing that we may not be able to control every aspect of life. Hope provides a glimpse into happiness.”

Katrina Robinson views her diagnosis as an opportunity to reflect.  Without a doubt, breast cancer, has taught her strength and humility.  

She shared that you must be mentally tough to successfully overcome chemotherapy, and more importantly, physical changes, family dynamics, and possible limitations.  Katrina indicated that humility, to her, is knowing when and how to ask others for help even though you are accustomed to being independent. 

Katrina, a five-year survivor, revealed that her diagnosis has led to the realization that life should be lived to the fullest every day.

Exposing Hope 2017 | Kathryn Gesse

“Hope is always finding the positive in a situation.”

Kathryn Gesse’s diagnosis has impacted her life significantly.  Kathryn always tries to find the positive when times are tough and appreciates the little things more often.  She mentioned that she has had the opportunity to be a resource to friends who have been diagnosed with cancer which is why she has never questioned the reason she was diagnosed. 

Kathryn, a three-year survivor, shared that even when times are tough you can persevere.

Exposing Hope 2017 | Julie Buie

“To me, hope is a light in times of darkness and uncertainty.  It is a feeling of trust in a different kind of outcome.  Hope is an optimistic desire.  Hope comes from our hearts, not our heads.” 

With two young children, playdates and Play-Doh were part of everyday life for Julie Buie.  Her diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer came as quite a surprise, given there was no family history.  Fortunately, Julie had the amazing support of family, friends and the knowledge of a rich team of medical providers.  Julie shared that she trusted and relied on God and knew that He was with her every step of her journey.

 She remembered seeing a quote from Tom Bodett a few years ago where he said, “A person needs three things to be truly happy in this world- someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”  Julie goes on to say, “I am a blessed and happy woman to say that I have someone to love.  I have something to do as I spend my days helping to raise my children, and through work I help other young families raise their children.  And I am filled with hope through my work with Earlier.org.” 

As a breast cancer survivor, Julie believes that life is a gift and she’s extremely grateful.  She expressed without pause that she needed a whole community of faithful family, friends, neighbors, and survivors to help her through this journey.

Julie is an eleven-and-a-half-year survivor.

Exposing Hope 2017 | Judy Hyman

“My thesaurus lists some synonyms for the word HOPE: confidence, optimism, faith.  After a while, I had confidence I would survive and I was optimistic about the future.  I have always been sustained by family, friends, and faith.”

As a single mom of 3 young children and a middle school counselor, it’s clear that Judy Hyman spent her days supporting and caring for others.  Diagnosed at 41, it’s hard to imagine the emotions Judy must have endured, especially as a single mom and knowing two of her aunts passed from breast cancer in their 40’s.  She took life’s lemons and started making lemonade, just as she’d witnessed her parents do, and was back at school within three weeks of her diagnosis.  Judy had several rounds of chemotherapy over the course of eleven months on Friday afternoons so that she had the weekend to recover from nausea and weakness.

The same year of her diagnosis and treatment, two of her students’ mothers were also diagnosed with breast cancer.  She provided tireless support to these students and was the epitome of hope for their mothers.  While making lemonade, Judy counted each passing year with gratitude, and when she reached 5 years as a survivor, she shared her news with everyone.  

Judy is a forty-two-year survivor and celebrates each year not wanting to forget but to be grateful.  She shared, “It is not happiness that makes us grateful, it’s gratefulness that makes us happy.”

Exposing Hope 2017 | Judy Bell

“Hope is harmony, opportunity, peace, and existence.”

Exposing Hope with Judy Bell reveals a philosophical lady with profound thoughts on her journey.  She shares, in her words, the elements which depict hope.  “Harmony exists with friendship, fellowship, cooperation, and understanding.  All of these contribute to being in harmony with myself and others.  It also involves getting along with friends and the ability to form new harmonious relationships.”

Judy continues to reveal another element in defining hope: opportunity. “Opportunity gives us the circumstances that make it possible to have a new lease on life.  I try to see the things that are important to me and pursue those opportunities to help myself and others.  These opportunities help produce challenges and mostly positive results.”

Survivors share stories of peace and Judy describes it very eloquently. “Peace comes from hope to have freedom from disturbance with quiet and tranquility.  This can be achieved by me through meditation, gardening, and walking.  These activities produce calmness and tranquility.  Peace also means freedom from or the cessation of war within my body and the hope to remain cancer free.”

One more component in her vision of hope is existence.  “Existence is the state of living with continued survival.  Having had cancer, continued survival is very important to me.  It is an actuality and existing reality that has affected my way of living.” 

Judy shared, “HOPE produces a desire for a relatively stable equilibrium with Harmony, Opportunity, Peace, and Existence.  All these play a part in contributing to HOPE with a feeling of expectation and HOPE for the best for a life filled with these positive things.”

As a breast cancer survivor, Judy openly shared the impact of her journey and particularly the positive.  She is acutely aware of the importance of healthy living through nutrition, socialization, mental stimulation, spirituality, and physical activity.  Judy also shared the importance of making a positive impact through supporting others.

Judy Bell is a five-year survivor.

Exposing Hope 2017 | Janice Rogers

“Hope means something to look forward to.  Having a goal and trying to reach that goal.  It is something money can not buy, but love, strength and perseverance can.  It’s when something you want happens to you or someone you care about, and that something brings about a positive change in that person’s life.  Hope has a positive outcome on our life.”

Janice Rogers shared that she has always been a contributor to finding a cure for breast cancer.  After her diagnosis, her drive to find an earlier test became personal.  She believes that cancer is such an ugly word, and it robs an individual of who they once were.  However it could never take away how a person feels, loves, and praises God. 

Janice thanks God every day for giving her the strength to move forward and for the insight to forget the little things that don’t matter.  When Janice is faced with a life challenge she prays to ask God to get her through. 

She recognizes just how lucky she is to call herself a four-year survivor.

Exposing Hope 2017 | Jane Matteson

“When I hear the word hope, I think most immediately and profoundly of family and friends.  I had a rich core of support with my son, and my sisters, and ever present friends who surrounded me throughout my treatment.  I can’t remember ever NOT having hope, having come from a family with a belief system grounded in the strength of the human spirit.”

Jane Matteson shared that her humor and hope very well might have been her “sword and buckler”.  She found herself surrounded by family, friends and a community that constantly provided love and support.  She recalls so many who embraced her journey from her family, friends, familiar faces at CVS and Harris Teeter.  Some of her strongest support came from a very special gentleman, Dr. Gus Magrinat.  Jane wholeheartedly expressed that “Dr. Gus was a talisman of hope for all my family and continues to be!”  Jane recognized that returning the sense of hope to others who cared for her as well, as those she met along the way, was important.  

Life has impacted Jane in a profound way.  Meaningful communication with family and friends, enjoying nature and taking time to watch the sun set are experiences she values more now.  She’s also found that listening to and truly hearing others, especially those who share a particular experience in life has become important.

Jane is a three year survivor.

Exposing Hope 2017 | Heather Simmons

“When I hear the word hope I immediately think - I hope this never comes back!  Hope also means trust, and I trust in God to take me along whatever path  because he will bring me through it.”

Exposing Hope captured a moment early in Heather Simmons’ journey of survivorship.  She admitted the anxious feelings about the next chapter in her life.  Moreover, exposing Heather’s hope comes with a list of thoughts to include hopes that her daughter never gets breast cancer, hopes to live for many years to watch her daughter grow and become a woman, and hopes that her family never has to have anyone else go through the stages of treatment.  

Breast cancer has changed Heather forever but she shared that it isn’t all bad.  She has a new outlook on life and she thinks about the important things in life.  She’s beyond thankful for a second chance.

Heather is a two-month survivor.

Exposing Hope 2017 | Freda Mitchell

“Hope means to shoot for the moon and if I should fall, I will land among the stars.”

From the beginning, Freda Mitchell’s hope was strong belief in her survivorship. As her hope progressed so did she. Freda optimistically shared that breast cancer was truly the hardest experience she has had to over come; however, her cancer was a blessing in disguise. Freda and her body endured the unimaginable, but she learned how to meditate and recognize herself in indescribable ways.

Now, Freda is confidently living her life just as she was before her diagnosis. She explained that her sister, caregiver, best friend and herself even created a corporation. Freda described her future as bright, like the Hope Diamond.

Recently, Freda has had the ultimate opportunity to celebrate being a two-years cancer free.