As you all know, every October we go pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month, with #PinkWink. For every bottle of WINK sold, we donate one to a cancer warrior. October 1st isn’t for a few more days, but time is of the essence with this particular warrior story – one close to my heart. This is Penny’s story.
Hi, I’m Penny Clark, and on July 7, 2017, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Metastatic Breast Cancer.
I am only 37 years old.
I randomly found a lump in my left breast while doing a self exam. I admit, I do not do self exams monthly and I had no reason to be concerned. Being under 40, I had not had a mammogram. I am too young.
I did not cry or ask why. I believe everyone struggles with something in life and how we choose to react to it defines us. I choose to embrace the journey and find the joy. I choose to be strengthened from the battle and I choose to win.
I am a mother to four amazing kids who keep me very busy. They are why I live and breathe. They are what keep me fighting. The power of prayer and faith strongly influence my outlook. I give God the glory.
I was called to serve others in my career as a Physical Therapist. I am in the business of healing people; now, unable to work for a year, I am the one needing healing.
I have endured 2 of my 4 rounds of chemotherapy so far(editor’s note: Penny started her third round two days ago, on Wednesday). With that came side effects of nausea, weakness, extreme fatigue, inability to eat or drink, pain, and hair loss.
I am bald, but I see beauty in it.
I still have multiple surgeries, radiation, hormonal therapy, and scans over the next several months. Only 5% of those diagnosed with breast cancer are under the age of 40, which increases our mortality rate due to the more aggressive nature of the cancer and the higher risk of recurrence.
I will never be completely cured.
Cancer will always remain on my mind, there will be frequent scans to watch for new growth, medicine I may have to take for years to come, and the scars will always remind me. I cope with the stress by running when I am able.
Running is my therapy.
Having the overwhelming amount of support I’ve been blessed with has also made this more tolerable. The kindness of strangers, the coming together of a community, the love and support of friends and family, the prayer chains throughout the US and the world, the gifts and cards, and the upcoming Benefit Ride fundraiser all bring me to tears.
My advice? Accept the blessings others give you.
That has been tough for me. I am very independent, but I cannot do this alone. A meal, help with housework, picking up my kids from school, rides to appointments, someone to sit with you while you are sick, messages, groceries, gas, yard work, cards in the mail, and all the little things in between make a huge impact.
I hope my story helps raise more awareness, reminds someone to do a self exam or mammogram, or touches someone to reach out to those fighting to win.
I am a warrior.
We cannot control what life gives us, but we can choose how to react to it. Choose to find joy in the journey every day.
Penny’s braveness in the face of cancer is so inspiring. Her Facebook posts literally light up my day every. single. day. (and yeah, they do make me cry most days, too). And she’s right – she DOES look beautiful bald. She ROCKS it. I’m Penny’s #1 fan.
All my Lawrence County (and surrounding area) readers, please consider joining Penny’s Benefit Ride this Saturday–TOMORROW! Join the Facebook event page here for event updates. Everyone get out there! And if you cannot attend, consider donating directly to Penny’s Paypal account.
Penny Strong Benefit Ride
- Date: September 30, 2017
- Location: Bedford Boat Club shelter house, located at 3916 Pumphouse Rd, Bedford, IN 47421.
- Registration from 9-10 am. Kickstands up at 10:15-10:30 am (Cars are welcome to join!)
- $25 per bike/vehicle and includes meal following the ride. This will be approximately 120 to 125 mile scenic ride thru Lawrence, Martin and Orange counties.
- Also open to the public: there will be a silent auction, door prizes for riders, T shirts for sale, and raffles. The meal is open to the public as well with a hog roast and plenty of side dishes to fill you up. For more information on the route or event see the Facebook Event Page
If you cannot attend, but would like to donate directly to Penny, a PayPal account was set up where she will get 100% of the donations at www.paypal.me/pennystrongfearless
P.S. If you get a shirt at the ride, send us a pic! You’ll see a very familiar company name on the back ? We love you, Penny!