Ambassadors

Pre-vivors – Survivors – Caregivers – Friends – Co-workers – Bereaved

When you share your experience, we guarantee you will inspire others and remind them that they are not alone. Our Ambassadors educate others about the issues that patients and caregivers face and help create a community of survivors, caregivers, friends & family members that understand one another.

2023 Ambassadors

Janet
Bereaved
;

“My mother was diagnosed with a glioblastoma right after Thanksgiving 2012 and was given 1-2 years of survival. She passed away almost exactly 3 years later.

Your focus is on them as a caregiver, but you’re on this journey, too. You are affected by cancer even if you don’t have it. You matter. Your challenges and all that you do is your journey, and it’s important to acknowledge that.

Cancer Pathways Midwest has been a lifesaver for me. I don’t think people can express how much it helps.“

 

Fred and Claudia
Diagnosed at 77
Metastisized Prostate

;

“Asking for help is not easy. By coming to Cancer Pathways Midwest, I understand there are other people that are going through what I’m going through.

Together as we talk about it, it strengthens each one. Everyone has their own story.

We have learned so many coping skills for anxiety and depression. This is just a good release for us. “

Adriana
Diagnosed at 35
Breast Cancer
;

I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer that was aggressive. I was lucky they caught it when they did. I cannot be more thankful for my providers and family that made everything more manageable. 2020 as we all know is when COVID first hit and that’s when I started Chemo. It was all so scary
because it was all so new! I honestly couldn’t have been more thankful for everyone in oncology that helped me and my family navigate some difficult times!

I can proudly say with happy tears that I am a Breast Cancer survivor. Chemo, radiation, several surgeries and COVID did not bring this girl down.
Cancer Pathways provides so many resources for families to engage and connect with others navigate some difficult times.

Katie
Diagnosed at 37
Breast Cancer
;

The weeks before my first treatment appointment were some of the hardest. Not
knowing more and not having a plan was difficult for me. Jump to chemo, mastectomy, radiation, and more chemo, I am now in remission. I found CPM near the start of treatment. I’m not completely sure how. It’s like Krista was there and that was that. She and others at CPM have helped me, introduced me to others, and linked others with me as well.

While I’m in remission, there’s still a mental battle that happens after cancer. Do I want reconstruction? What if it comes back? How do I want to live this life after seeing how it could’ve been? Learning of others that are newly diagnosed. It’s a lot, but the support from CPM and the Ribbon Chicks means the world to me.

Jeff
Diagnosed at 25
Non Hodgkins Lymphoma

;

I want others to know that cancer does not discriminate and to pay attention to your body. You are your best advocate but with Cancer Pathways Midwest it gives individuals the ability to connect on different levels of cancer. It
affects everyone. I was 25 when I was diagnosed after being misdiagnosed 6 times between the ER and family physician they finally sent me to a surgeon that found the tumor right away.

At that point, the tumor was 40 cm and inoperable. They completed a surgical biopsy and I got the official diagnosis. My wife and I were only married 2 years at this point. I wish I had a outlet like Cancer Pathways to turn to and that is what I want to advocate for, that no one fights Cancer alone and to volunteer and share my story.

Jean
Diagnosed at 58
Endometrian and Kidney Cancer
;

Cancer was a huge shock. I had No idea until I went in for a ultrasound papsmear and nearly bleed out in her office. I was transfered to an emergency room at Deaconess. I had Endometrian cancer.

Initially I was given a 15 percent chance of surviving. I survived a radical historectomy, chemo treatments and radiation. I had two wonderful friends that were by my side throughout! Then, right at the 5 year mark I found out I had kidney cancer. One kidney had to be removed. I still have regular CT scans and chest x-rays. I’ve Been blessed throughout by amazing friends, some took me into their home and cared for me during recovery. Cancer Pathways Midwest has been a huge support During this time! They helped me through some pretty rough days!!!

Sarah
Diagnosed at 62
Small cell
;

“I have been an oncology nurse for 18 years and have never had to deal with anyone close to me having
cancer…..until November 2021. My world was turned upside down when my sweet mother was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma of the rectum. Not only is this an aggressive cancer, it is rare to have small cell of the gastrointestinal tract. Needless to say, I, as well as my whole family, were devastated.
The first thing I did when I found out that she most likely had a diagnosis of cancer, I called Cancer Pathways and spoke to Amber. She was so caring and I have been seeing her multiple times a month since then. If it hadn’t been for her and everyone at Cancer Pathways, I’m not sure what I would have done. They have helped me open my eyes to so many new ways of thinking and stress management. Everything I have learned from Cancer Pathways has helped me with every aspect of my life. 

Shawna
Previvor (BRCA2+)
Breast Cancer

;

I was a caregiver for my mother during her breast cancer battle.

Since finding out about my diagnosis, I have had both preventative surgeries to lower my cancer risks, and am living my best life as a flattie and a PREVIVOR!

It was a very lonely decision and I had to advocate for myself because everyone thought that I should reconstruct. I wanted one and done.

Here’s to taking control of my health!

Mary Ann
Caregiver
Husband Diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectal Cancer
;

When the phone rang, I thought that we were going to discuss taking the kids to the fall festival. We were in the swing of school, ramping up for the holidays and life seemed to be more normal than it had been in a couple of years. That was not the discussion that awaited me on the other end of the phone. My husband, Colby, had called to let me know the doctor had sent him to the emergency room because there was

blood in his stool. An overnight stay in the hospital, became a week long stay, a Stage 3 Rectal cancer diagnosis and a myriad of doctor’s appointments, treatment plans and a less than ideal holiday season ahead. Our children 4, 7, 8, & 13 had to be told, extended family had to be told and friends all had to be told.

How in the world were we going to maintain business as usual? I sure didn’t know, but dang it I was going to try.

2022 Ambassadors

Kim
Diagnosed at 51
Atypical Carcinoid and Typical Carcinoid/Adenocarcinoma
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After finding two tumors on a CT scan, Kim had surgery and was diagnosed with typical and atypical neuroendocrine tumors of the lung which had metastasized to her lymph nodes. And if that wasn’t enough, her pathology report, showed an additional adenocarcinoma.

Thinking I handled everything well, I returned to work after my treatment ended. Everyone thinks that once chemo is over you’re back to normal. Chemo had affected more than I anticipated, so I called Cancer Pathways Midwest. The environment is calm, warm and welcoming, and feels like home. I left there feeling understood and realized they truly “get it”. You aren’t the same once you are thrust on this journey and Cancer Pathways Midwest has made it easier for me to find ME! I come feeling overwhelmed and depleted and leave ready to tackle what life throws at me.”

Parker and Spencer
Parker – diagnosed at 8
Pilocytic Astrocytoma on the Brain

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When Parker was 8 years old, he was diagnosed with pilocytic astrocytoma on the brainstem.
“Cancer Pathways has helped my brother with his worry and helped me to realize that it’s ok to be angry at cancer.” – Parker

“After all we had been through, we struggled finding a therapist that was a good fit. Cancer Pathways Art Therapy in the Mindful Creations Studio has been phenomenal, providing us with coping skills and help with the anxiety that comes with cancer” – Laura (Mom)

Nic
Diagnosed at 25
Skin Melanoma
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With two brain injuries in 2015 & 2017, Nic felt there were already a lot of limits placed on his life. Then at 25, he learned he had type II skin melanoma.

“The trauma associated with a cancer diagnosis ages you. It makes it difficult to relate to people your own age and even dating is an obstacle. While they are thinking about their careers and future, I am thinking about the day I’ve been given and if the cancer will come back. It is always in the back of my mind.

Recently, my mother was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer and Cancer Pathways Midwest has been a very powerful resource and source of support for me, my family and friends.”

Kristin
Diagnosed at 37
Stage I Cervical
;

“My baby was 8 months old and I was still breast feeding. I was also not done having kids. The only option to remove the cancer and be here to see my kids grow up, was to have a hysterectomy. That had some profound effects on me and my children, knowing I could not give them another sibling.
Although I didn’t lose my hair or have physical scars, I constantly struggle with whether it will come back and the impact it has had on my life. When I was diagnosed, I was made to feel ashamed and people would ask “Why would you want people to know you have HPV?”
Cancer Pathways Midwest has provided me an outlet to educate and advocate for myself and others so that no one has to feel ashamed by HPV and most importantly, the power of prevention!”

Angie and Oliver
Oliver diagnosed at 4
Leukemia
;
“The hardest part is transitioning into a life with cancer. Living in a hospital that is three hours from home and family, while trying to maintain your life outside of the hospital, and updating and educating everyone on the medical terminology, procedures and set backs. It is so difficult and exhausting.
Oliver has been through five different chemos and finally received a bone marrow transplant. He is doing great but nothing has been “text book” for him. Through it all, Cancer Pathways Midwest has shown up multiple times, providing unconventional support and resources just when they were needed.”
Tammy
Diagnosed at 51
Triple Negative Breast Cancer
;
When I was told I had cancer, at that point I was “the victim”. When I learned I had Triple Negative (spreads the quickest, is the hardest to treat and it comes back), I then became “the patient”.
When I had surgery, started chemo then radiation, I became “a warrior”. The people I met through Cancer Pathways Midwest, helped me realize that what I went through was hard and I was strong for going through it… I am a SURVIVOR! Cancer Pathways Midwest is my comfort zone. I feel accepted, loved and like I can be myself.”
Andy
Diagnosed at 56
Multiple Myeloma
;
“Cancer came as a shock, very unexpected, and it has been quite a journey. Beyond the surgery, chemo and stem cell transplant, the most challenging has been the mental aspect; how to reframe my life, where do I go from here, and how much time do I have before it comes back?

This is an ugly disease and through Cancer Pathways Midwest “Guy Time” and Peer to Peer support, I want to help and encourage others going through cancer, especially Multiple Myeloma, so no one feels as if they are alone.

Taylor
Diagnosed at 20
Li-Fraumeni Syndrome
;

“I only have one tumor suppressor, where most people have two. This predispositions me to a 100% chance of developing cancer in my lifetime.

My sister Lexi, and I, both inherited this from our dad, who passed away when we were little. Lexi recently passed from ovarian cancer.

She was 18 yrs. old. I am very thankful to have Cancer Pathways in my life especially since Lexi’s passing. I have done counseling, Art Therapy and met others who understand what I am going through. I feel at home there.

Heather
Caregiver / Bereaved
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Before learning that their family carried Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (a rare hereditary or genetic disorder that increases the risk that family members will develop cancer), Heather and Taylor lost their husband/father, sister-in-law/aunt, and 18 yr. old daughter and sister, Alexis, from rare and aggressive cancers originating from Li-Fraumeni.

Taylor recently learned that she is also positive with the genetic disorder and is preparing for prophylactic surgeries to prevent the various cancers she is now at risk for.

“Cancer has been a big part of our lives and has taken a lot of our family Knowing that Cancer Pathways always has an answer, no matter what each of us is needing.”

Eva
Diagnosed at 47
Stage IV Lung with Brain Mets
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“I have been through chemo, radiation, surgeries and even remission. I recently went through a reoccurrence and Cancer Pathway Midwest was there the entire time. They have cheered me on and I’ve met friends with whom I am able to talk through my various situations.

Cancer Pathways Midwest is a great support, resource,  and community! As an Ambassador, I want to help others by sharing my story!”

Angie
Diagnosed at 46
Breast Cancer / Caregiver
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My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and had three reoccurrences. With her history of breast cancer, my doctor treated me aggressively. I had chemo upfront to reduce my tumor size, six months of chemo, a lumpectomy, and finally 6 weeks of radiation. I have been cancer free for 11 years but don’t ever feel like I am “home free.”

So one October morning, while recovering, some of my loved ones surprised me with, Sammy, a little black kitten who has now been by my side through everything as well as my friends and previous co-workers at Cancer Pathways Midwest.

During the time I worked at Cancer Pathways Midwest I met a lot of amazing people that have supported me and who I have also been there for. It is a community who understands what you are going through.”

Karen
Diagnosed at 46
Breast Cancer
;
“Working while going through chemo and radiation was challenging. There were many days where I shouldn’t have gone to work but just stayed home to heal and recover.

I lost several friends due to them not understanding what I was going through. I can’t just “go out”, I have to plan were I am going to be, know where the bathrooms are, be able to take my meds at the appropriate time and accept that I get tired more easily.

Cancer Pathways Midwest is a place I can go and just be myself. They make me feel like I am family and I am always surrounded by people that understand what I have been though and still going through. They love me for who I am.”

Melissa
Diagnosed at 55
Appendix Cancer
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I didn’t even know I had it… it was just there! I had surgery to remove my appendix, 25% of my colon and several lymph nodes. I am currently going through chemo and very new to all of this. The chemo and the mindset that cancer puts you through is the most challenging. I have nausea, no taste, loss of appetite and it’s difficult to stay in a positive frame of mind.

I don’t want to get depressed but it is very hard… with Cancer Pathways Midwest I get through it.”

Ambassador Photos were taken by Berkeley Photography, LLC.