Penny’s tone through the telephone is upbeat, vivacious and decidedly realistic. She tells me her story. She was diagnosed October 24, 2004 with lobular stage III breast cancer, a type notoriously difficult to detect via mammography. Her cancer returned in 2009 and she’s had a difficult journey including a hemi colectomy. But Penny’s is not a sob story. While faced with her own mortality, Penny has decided to live.
“My inspiration comes from The Live Sincerely Project,” Penny told me. “Live Sincerely follows the journey of Vanessa who has metastatic breast cancer, her sisters Jessica and Christina as well as everyone who touches their lives. They challenge everyone to embrace life in all its elements, however ‘unfair, scary, hard, confusing, painful, fleeting, amazing and connecting’, they may be.” “On the site, visitors can take the pledge to Live Sincerely,” Penny explained. “So far 1,150 people have taken this pledge and I am proud to count myself among them.”
The Live Sincerely blog urges people to live each day with purpose, acknowledge that which can’t be changed, but seize the moment to change what you can with hope and creativity.
Back on the phone Penny tells me after she received her MBC diagnosis she decided to conquer her fear of heights by daring to zip line. And she has continued to zip line at every retreat she has attended. She’s an optometrist and her children are a junior in college and a senior in high school. Penny shares an open relationship with her children and together they savor moments that are both lighthearted and serious.
Earlier in the year when Penny was headed off to a breast cancer retreat she wrote to the girls of Live Sincerely to ask for pins. “I loved the sisters’ response,” says Penny. “They said: ‘The message is to ask each of us to look inward, reach outward and make efforts in your own life to live sincerely.’”
At MBCN, we like to share stories of how women and men with metastatic breast cancer are living meaningful and productive lives. How about you? Are you looking inward and reaching outward? We’d love to hear from you. Please comment below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.Shuyang (Sue) Yao MBCN