Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Bitter Sweet: Holly's Story
Recently I blogged about attending an amazing writing academy in Ojai, California. A full review of this magical program to come but I introduced you to one of the amazing women that I met there, Dr. Tererai Trent.
Today I wanted to share the story of another courageous and amazing women named Holly Thrasher who is a survivor, author and inspiration! If we want to raise awareness about Breast Cancer it is my belief that it is the stories of the survivors that are the most important to share. Thank you Holly for sharing your story with my readers!
L-R: Back Row: Author Rebecca Winn, Myself, Publisher/Author: Zhena Muzyka
Bottom: Author/Philanthropist Barbara Savage, Author Katherine Davenport and Author Holly Thrasher
It was the week before Thanksgiving in 2015 and I was planning my busy holiday season for my nostalgic candy store, Kingston’s Candy Co. All of my seasonal merchandise was arriving and we were decorating the store for our busiest time of the year. It was our sixth Christmas in business and I had become a part of the fabric of our community here in Ojai, CA. I was known as the local Candy Lady, a title I had worked hard for and loved. My business provided myself and family with so much joy. Going to work consisted of being a kid in a candy store every single day and you can’t beat that. I truly felt that I had found my path and nothing could have prepared me for the life changing news I would receive right in the middle of the busiest season of the year.
A small lump had been detected in my left breast during a routine mammogram in early 2014. For more reasons I can count, I chose to ignore that lump. I was a healthy, wife, mother and successful small business owner. Nothing was going to stop me from doing what I loved. I went into full denial, convincing myself that the breast lump was not worth worrying about. Thankfully, my doctor did not agree. One year and nine months after that first mammogram, she persuaded me to take a second look at that lump with a follow-up mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. The biopsy results were finally in my hand and I carefully read through the medical jargon to the sentence that would evoke a string of expletives to flow from my mouth;
“The pathology report is now available and shows malignancy concordant with the
findings. Pathology report positive for infiltrating ductal adenocarcinoma.”
I was shocked! I was told that 85% of those lumps were nothing to worry about! In that moment I knew that my sweet candy store was going to be a casualty of cancer. Without a second thought, we closed Kingston’s in January 2016, so I could recover from a total double mastectomy and gear up for chemotherapy and later, breast reconstruction.
It is coming up on a year since my life was turned upside down by breast cancer. Three surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy are behind me, my hair is growing back and my breast reconstruction is done. Thankfully, I am now considered to have “no evidence of cancer.” To say that beating breast cancer was tough would be an understatement. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but through it all I had a nagging suspicion that I was meant to be doing something else.
Life can really throw you a curve ball and I am not the only one...1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. I have begun to rebuild my life with the help of my devoted and loyal husband, Wiley. Wiley stepped up in a major way, taking on all of my responsibilities, while still shouldering his own while I recovered. I cannot express how impressed I am with how much Wiley loves and cares for myself and our teenage son, Vance.
With all of the major cancer challenges behind us, I am just starting to grieve the loss of my identity as the Candy Lady, but amazingly, I have found my true calling; to support and encourage women with breast cancer on their own journey. I am currently writing a book that I hope will support and educate women. My book is an intimate photographic journey of what a woman’s breasts go through from mastectomy to reconstruction. Wiley and I documented my breasts through every phase of breast cancer hoping it would later help us heal from the experience. To my surprise, I realized that these photos could help heal other women too.
I now believe that my breast cancer was a gift. I know that sounds crazy, but it has changed my whole life and provided me with a better understanding of how I can be more useful in the world. It has been a bitter-sweet journey, but I wouldn’t change a thing!
Look for Holly's Book Coming Soon Called: We Will Rebuild. Holly explained, it will be an intimate photographic journey documenting the painful and uplifting process of losing and rebuilding a woman's breasts, written by a wife, mother and breast cancer survivor who thought she had lost her identity, but found her true life's purpose to support and honor women's experiences with breast cancer.
Thank's Holly, YOU ROCK!