Warrior Stories Vol I: Sharon G.

Every year during the month of October, for every WINK sold, we donate one to a cancer warrior, to help their lashes and brows, lost through chemotherapy. In partnership with the Breast Cancer Charities of America, we are sharing these warrior’s stories, as powerful examples of how your gift is directly helping breast cancer patients across America.

This week we share the story of one of those warriors, Sharon Garry, in her own words:


“I was first diagnosed in May 2013, which to me felt like an eternity of fear, pain and loss that seemed like it would never get better. At the present moment, I am undergoing aggressive treatments.

As hard as the days may be, the most effective changes are the people that I have been blessed to meet, who help in small ways. They have been so helpful, such as bringing me soup, fresh foods, or just staying with me when I’m sick or weak. Not to mention, the medical professionals who really care and go to bat for me.

Sharon Garry , Cancer WarriorSharon Garry

I find the most support in my church group and a support group at the hospital where I have met peers who are going through the same issues. This is the place where others truly understand my journey.

I try my best to find joy during this time, by being outdoors or listening to good music with some of my good friends. My advice that I would like to share is make a plan, ask the right questions, [and] research treatment centers that will be the best for you. Also, don’t be afraid to ask and accept help. Your life is going to change so try your best to take care of yourself.”


Sharon’s advice is really solid, but it doesn’t just extend to the warrior, but also the family and partner, too. Your life is changing in a big way; don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Taken from the Breast Cancer Charities of America website, here are the steps to help you respond with maximum intelligence to a cancer diagnosis and help you rebuild your self-healing functions:

  1. Examine. Step back from the day-to-day pressures of your life to evaluate your current situation in its entirety.
  2. Discover. Assess both current life issues that must be changed as well as future needs that must be met.
  3. Plan. Create a simple plan to restore health and total well-being.
  4. Implement. Work in partnership with health advisors who have your confidence. Begin a self-care plan to create whole-person well-being.
  5. Review. Conduct quarterly reviews of your progress, making adjustments as necessary.

Taken together, these action points will play the central role in mobilizing all your healing options and capacities, both external and internal.


Getting Emotional Support

For both you and your loved one, it’s important to maintain your emotional and psychological health throughout the process. The diagnosis is tough, but the constant hospital and doctor visits can also do a number on your mental health.

If you or a loved one needs someone to talk to throughout this process, and find yourself at a loss with friends and family, consider using the Crisis Text Line to talk about anything and everything. The Crisis Text Line is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those who need to talk about any serious problem at any time of day or night via text message. Just text 741741 whenever, wherever to be instantly connected to a trained counselor for free.

For a more routine way to connect on-the-go, consider using a service like TalkSpace, which connects you instantly to a therapist.

Thought texting a therapist may seem like a foreign concept, the anonymity frees up you to say whatever you want, however you want. It’s a good way to unload without having to say the words out loud.

Of course, if you prefer talking on the phone, there are plenty of free hotlines available. Here’s a list of cancer-specific help hotlines that you can call, for cancer-specific questions.

If you’d like to unload regularly, you can set up regular sessions with a therapist nearby, or Skype sessions (Google will pull up some options) if you’re always on the go.

The suicide rate is double the national rate among cancer patients. But cancer is difficult not just for the diagnosed, but also for the family, partner, and friends. Take advantage of all the resources that technology has offered us. People who care about you are closer than ever; they’re right in your pocket.

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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