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Shelby - Bodies of Courage Bodypainted Cancer Survivors

I have this little plaque that says – “If nothing ever changed there would never be a butterfly.”
I reflect on that thought quite often as I contemplate in how many ways my life has changed since being diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer shortly after my 40th birthday…now 12 years ago.
I knew things were going to change for me but had no vision where my journey would lead me.


When I was told I had breast cancer I was also told that I probably would not survive.
My gut reaction had me up and out the door and calling my doctor and asking what do I do?

When I started chemo I shaved my head and accepted my bald head was coming.
A clerk in the grocery store told me she had had breast cancer and asked was I getting the “red stuff?
I also remember feeling upset that I knew what the “red stuff” was and she didn’t, I walked out with a resolve to continue to learn as I battled on.

Three years after my diagnosis we found out that I had hereditary breast cancer.
This tail spinned me into more surgery to remove my significant risk of recurrence..in 2005 I hopefully was done at surgery #18.

When I was finally on the road to recovery and ready to live life to the fullest I found myself now facing a divorce.
The cancer had taken its toll on someone other than me. The future appeared more daunting for me.
I must admit that I cried for a year. I had no choice but to pull myself together to deal with all the remnants of life and I began to volunteer my time.

My journey 12 years later has me leading a support group, lobbying in D.C., educating our community, fundraising for those in need, and having a job that I am passionate about.

I am amazed at the spirit of women as they face Breast Cancer.
I have learned every woman will have her own unique journey and their own change along the way.
Brave, strong and resilient, women that are living with scars that no one sees.

I look at my scars and I now see a roadmap of my life and I think….if nothing ever changed there would never be a butterfly.