Cancer. That dreaded “C” word that we all fear and dread. The disease that has effected every single one of us in some way. A diagnosis that feels like a death sentence and literally changes lives forever.
No, I have not been diagnosed with cancer. But too many of my friends and family have. Both of my parents lost their battles with the disease many years ago. Both of them were quite young. Not much older than I am now, in fact. So the topic of cancer is one that is near and dear to my heart because it did change my life forever. My husband and my children never knew my parents. All they get are stories. I try my best to keep the memories alive so that my kids have some idea of who their maternal grandparents were. But the memories are only mine. So all that my kids and my husband get is my perception of who my parents were. And sometimes, quite frankly, that is just not enough.
*This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
But we cannot undo the past. All we can do is make changes based on what we have learned from the past. Important realizations and initiatives can come out of tragedy and struggle. There is a lot of greatness that can come from battles like these. Whether the battles are lost or won, there are stories of strength and faith and passion and love and togetherness and community and kindness. This post is not about my personal story with cancer. Instead, today, I want to share with you a story about one woman’s journey that has inspired me on so many levels.
Her name is Nicholle Anderson. If you follow professional hockey, then you know quite well who she is. She is the strength and inspiration standing behind her goaltender husband, Ottawa Senator Craig Anderson. She is also a childhood friend of mine. However, I will not pretend that we are close friends…we are merely connected on Facebook due to the fact that we grew up in the same small town, were members of the same swim team as very young children, and have a multitude of mutual friends. I have not seen her in person in probably 30 years. But because I knew her once upon a time and because of my own very personal relationship with cancer, I have followed her journey very closely from the beginning. This is her story. And I am so completely inspired by it that I need to share it.
A little over a year ago, Nicholle was diagnosed with stage 4 Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma, a very rare cancer that is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, the same virus that causes mononucleosis. From the very beginning, Nicholle decided to be public and forthright with all matters concerning her battle. She seized the opportunity to educate and assist others in any way she could…all the while she was fighting for her life. Using the tagline Every Moment Counts, she documented each step of her journey in her blog, Stick by Nik. As the NHL community, Facebook friends, and family rallied beside her, she fought the hard fight and she came out on top. Today, Nicholle is cancer free.
But her fight does not end there. She continues to fight this dreadful disease by spreading awareness and education in her new role as the NHL Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador. Hockey Fights Cancer™ is an initiative within the NHL community that wishes to inspire courage and hope in families that are effected by cancer. You can join the Hockey Fights Cancer team by donating, by attending a Hockey Fights Cancer game, or by sharing your personal cancer story on social media using #HockeyFightsCancer. Donations to the Hockey Fights Cancer Fund can be made here.
As the newest Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador, Nicholle’s mission is this:
“If I can get the message out there in this next month to even encourage people to make sure they’re following up on their own doctor visits and cluing in on their body and saying, ‘OK this isn’t normal, I’ve never had this, I need to get checked,’ then I’m doing the right thing.” -Nicholle Anderson
Recently, Nicholle has been visiting Hope Lodges around the country sharing her inspirational story with other cancer patients currently undergoing treatment. During this process, Nicholle is also finding inspiration from all the patients she is meeting. Hope Lodges are cancer treatment facilities established by the American Cancer Society to provide free lodging for patients and their caregivers during the treatment process. Donations to Hockey Fights Cancer will also go to supporting The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodges.
To illustrate what a truly incredible woman Nicholle is, I want to share this personal interaction that I had with her last November, very shortly after she received her diagnosis and was already undergoing some pretty intense treatment. As I was lying in a hospital bed in pre-op to have a tubal ligation, I was posting on Facebook and I received this comment from Nicholle, “Prayers for a successful day! Good luck!” What I was dealing with waiting for a routine procedure was nothing compared to what she was enduring in the fight of her life. I was so moved by her thoughtfulness to just reach out and send some of her positive energy my way. But that is the woman whom she is.
She is strong, she is kind, she is thoughtful, she is positive, she is selfless, and she is hands down one of the most inspiring women I have ever known. And because she is all of these things, she deserves the support of other strong, inspiring, empowering women. And so I implore you, my fabulous community of strong, inspiring, empowering blogger friends and readers to support Nicholle’s initiative by visiting some of these websites, learning more about her journey and how you can help Hockey Fight Cancer, and share her initiative with your audiences. By spreading the word, together we can make a difference. Together we can fight cancer. Together we are stronger.
Stick by Nik: Every Moment Counts: Nicholle Anderson’s personal blog documenting her cancer journey.
Do you have a personal cancer story to share? If you would like to share in the comments, please do and I will be sure to send prayers and positive energy your way. Or speak out about your journey on social media and use #HockeyFightsCancer You will be joined by a powerful community committed to support you in your battle.
And now your favorite posts from last week’s link party.
Helping hockey fight cancer on the edge,
Linking up with these Fabulous Link Ups.