Hear Her Story:
Three Survivor Stories
Breast cancer survivors often say they felt isolated, afraid, and confused after the diagnosis. Wherever you or your loved ones are in their cancer journey, inspirational stories from real people have the ability to assuage these feelings.
Here are three survivor stories of triumph from women who have gone (and continue to go) toe-to-toe against cancer:
3 Inspiring Stories of Survival, Empowerment, & Growth:
1. Yolanda Origel (“Yoli”)
Yolanda Origel (“Yoli”) first heard the word “cancer” at the age of seven when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. While her mother fought valiantly, she passed away at forty-two from metastatic disease. Years later, Yoli was diagnosed in 2007 when she was 31 years’ old. Likely the result of the BRCA 1 breast cancer gene, Yoli would undergo sixteen weeks of dose-dense chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, seven weeks of daily radiation treatments, a latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction surgery with tissue expanders and many subsequent reconstructive surgeries. She also had a complete hysterectomy to decrease the risk of ovarian and other gynecologic cancers. Yet Yoli persevered, clinging to her faith in Christ and maintaining consistent physical, mental and spiritual disciplines.
In the seventh year of her cancer survival, Yoli’s youngest sister would also pass away from breast cancer. Yoli realized that the care and support that she provided her sister allowed her to die with dignity, while also learning very valuable lessons on resource navigation, access to care, and the importance of patient advocacy. These lessons were incorporated into the development of Cancer Kinship in 2018. Today, Yoli is a 10-year survivor of Stage 3 breast cancer and the CEO of Cancer Kinship, a non-profit and community partner of UHSM.
2. Isabelle Bart
Isabelle Bart has always found fulfillment in uplifting those in her community. An Orange County resident born in France, she has worked as a business and marketing strategy executive in healthcare and non-profit management for many years. In early 2020, Isabelle decided to make a career move to help strengthen individuals and businesses in need. However, her plans were interrupted by a global pandemic and an early-stage breast cancer diagnosis. Nevertheless, she didn’t let these things undo the good work she wanted to do. Isabelle took her cancer as a wake-up call that it was time for a new chapter in her life and career. And after her treatment, she founded Impact Innovator coaching and consulting business that empowers individuals of all backgrounds to create innovative and impactful enterprises.
3. Rebekah Hughes
At twenty-three, Rebekah was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer, which she defeated after a yearlong battle. Four years later, she married the love of her life, Joel, but merely eight months into their marriage, their life as newlyweds was impacted by another diagnosis – this time, Stage 4 breast cancer. The doctors told Rebekah and Joel that she only had four to six months to live.
Nevertheless, they decided not to accept this prognosis and Rebekah chose to live. Six months turned to six years, and now her inspirational story of an ordinary person overcoming extraordinary circumstances has been adapted into the award-winning film, A Brave Hope. Never once during her cancer battle did Rebekah become angry at God. In fact, she realized that He was using her to make something beautiful. Her faith carried her through the trials and tribulations, allowing her to find joy and purpose despite the pain.
More than wishful thinking or naive optimism, Rebekah and Joel’s love story shows that hope in the Lord is indestructible. Today their film, books and other services deliver this powerful message of hope.
Take Action This Breast Cancer Awareness Month
UHSM Health Share’s mission is to help Christians maintain their holistic health and well-being. As discussed in previous blogs, there are many things you can do this Breast Cancer Awareness Month to promote and encourage healthy living habits. From scheduling a mammogram and completing a breast self-assessment to talking with family about breast cancer history and educating oneself on the signs and symptoms, it is critical to ensure you and your loved ones are ready should there be a diagnosis.
Join us Every Day this Week
Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Christian women in our community, know that you are seen, loved, cared for, and supported every step of the way. WeShare further connects resources to those working through breast cancer through Cancer Kinship, an organization founded by UHSM Ambassador Yolanda Origel.
Affectionately called “Yoli,” is a superstar in her community, connecting resources, support, and love to those in-need; Yoli builds others up through empowerment and storytelling. Learn how to connect, support, or volunteer with Cancer Kinship, today!