3 moms who survived cancer: A Mother’s Day collage

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, many things run through your mind: How will I tell my partner? Will I lose my job? How do I break the news to my family? These questions become even more pressing when you have children or grandchildren who depend on you.

Despite completely different diagnoses, these women had one thing in common – they were fighting cancer not only to get healthy again, but also to continue being there for their families.

Brianna's story: Finding the new normal as a triple-negative breast cancer survivor

Brianna Hinojosa-Flores and her children
Brianna Hinojosa-Flores and her children

In 2013, Brianna Hinojosa-Flores was a 41-year-old mother of two who had just been diagnosed with a cancer that’s tough to beat – triple-negative breast cancer. After her diagnosis, Brianna immediately began chemotherapy treatment and later had a double mastectomy.

Today, she’s back at work as an attorney, serves on her local city council, and lives life to the fullest with her family. Like many cancer survivors, Brianna is health conscious and values the importance of making time to eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep.

Although side effects from chemotherapy have changed her routine, Brianna makes every day worthwhile and shares her experience with other women who were diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer at an early age. Read Brianna’s full story on the Cancer Answer Line blog.

Donna’s story: Lung cancer clinical trial saves local mom’s life

Donna Fernandez and Dr. David Gerber
Donna Fernandez and Dr. David Gerber

As a grandmother and a stage 4 lung cancer survivor, Donna Fernandez knows firsthand the value of fighting cancer for herself and her loved ones. Two years ago, she joined an international clinical trial evaluating nivolumab, an immunotherapy drug. The drug had been shown to be effective in treating melanoma patients, and the trial was a chance to see whether it would work for her lung cancer.

Donna responded well to the immunotherapy drug. Her stage 4 lung cancer is stable, and she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren on nature outings, doing gardening, and working on her dogs’ agility training. Donna continues to champion the value of cancer research, funding, and awareness. “I’m not just alive,” she says, “I’m living life to the fullest.” Read Donna’s full story on the Cancer Answer Line blog.

Kim’s story: Surviving multiple myeloma

Kim Ludwig and her family
Kim Ludwig and her family

When Kim Ludwig visited an orthopaedist for persistent back pain, she never expected a cancer diagnosis. Her MRI results showed lesions in her spine, ribs, shoulders, and liver. Further testing revealed her diagnosis: an aggressive bone marrow cancer called multiple myeloma. Kim was stage 3.

This was not Kim’s first experience with a devastating cancer. Her husband, Mark, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer at age 45 and passed away in 2011. Their son, Jack, was a high school senior at the time of his dad’s death. When Kim was diagnosed, their daughter, Lindsey, was a high school senior.

With early detection, clinical trials, and new treatment options, Kim is optimistic. “My goal was to see Lindsey graduate high school,” she says, “That’s all I thought I’d be able to do, but my doctors convinced me that the cancer was treatable. Lindsey is now a student at OU, and Jack is at Texas Tech University.” Read Kim’s full story on the Cancer Answer Line blog.

Take time to appreciate the women who give so much to our families day after day. And ladies, it’s important to put your health first when you need to – it’s not selfish to do so, and your family will be glad you did.

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