I am a breast cancer survivor. I don’t think anyone can be touched by breast cancer and it not change your prospective. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, 2007 and 2013 so I’ve had a lumpectomy (1996), mastectomy with a tramp flap reconstruction (2007) and a mastectomy with reconstruction implant in 2013. I’ve been through radiation therapy once and chemotherapy twice. Breast cancer does not define my life but it definitely covers several chapters of my life story. I always stop and take a second look when I see items and events with a pink ribbon attached. So in February, 2015 I saw an announcement (in pink) for a contest called The Fabulous Four on a website for bowlers.
Being a bowler myself and because I discovered bowling due to my diagnosis of breast cancer, I decided to take a chance and enter the contest. It felt so easy to write the essay because I simply wrote about my experience of how much I loved bowling and how I have been able to continue throughout my three diagnoses. Imagine my utter surprise when I received a call informing me I’d been selected as one of the Fabulous Four winners. Wow. Dreams do come true. The contest title accurately described the experience – it was indeed Fabulous. Between the U.S. Bowling Congress and the Susan G. Komen Foundation they treated the four of us to five days of unimaginable fun and festivities. We stayed at a beautiful hotel in the Dallas area, we ate at nice restaurants, were treated to a bowling lesson at the famous International Training and Resource Center in Arlington, TX and we were each given a fabulous goodie bag from Komen Foundation and USBC that included Nancy Brinker’s novel, Komen and Bowl for the Cure merchandise. We were made to feel like Queens! In addition we were taken on a shopping spree at Belk Department store which included a personal helper who helped us pick out whatever we wanted. We even got makeovers! When we arrived at the Komen offices we were greeted with a mini news conference and we each had the opportunity to share our stories. We also were photographed and asked the question “What Gives You Strength”? Our answers were written on a board and again our pictures were taken. I loved that moment. My strength comes from my family and more specifically my mother. I feel that our rolls are often reversed – I sometimes feel like her mom and I know sometimes she looks up to me. She always tells me that I am so level headed and responsible. But she always, always has my back. She is my biggest supporter and cheerleader. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer six years after me. She had a lumpectomy and is doing extremely well. When she was diagnosed I was very worried because she was a widow in her 50’s and lived alone. But she said to me that she knew that by watching me go through breast cancer and coming out strong, she felt she could make it through. That was a very powerful statement. That day at the Komen offices was a true Kleenex (full box) moment. But things didn’t end there, after 2.5 days in Texas we were flown to Reno, NV where we were entered into the Ladies Championship Tournament as a team. We all used the opportunity to roll the new, specially drilled bowling ball we were given while at the ITRC which even had the pink ribbon stamped on it! I felt blessed to be part of the entire experience especially because the other three winners were some of the most genuine and special women I’ve had the honor to meet. We all vowed to keep in touch. It truly was an honor to have been selected. I will never forget this experience, the great staff at USBC and the wonderful people at Susan G. Komen who catered to us during our entire time and constantly told us we deserved it. Sometimes when you go through a tough health crisis, you forget how much of a toll it takes. I will cherish the memories of this experience forever and still daydream about how great it felt to be made to feel Fabulous!