I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer on October 1, 2009.  I don’t think anyone wants to hear those words but I knew I would beat it.  The gloves were on and I was ready to kick butt.


After nine months of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, I thought I knocked it out.  To my surprise winning that fight was only the beginning.  I spent another year fighting autoimmune issues.  So the testing begins, MRI’s, PET scans, CT scans, blood work.  I was told I would need a liver transplant within a year.  I was in a wheelchair for about 6 months caused by my lupus diagnosis and fatigue that would keep me in bed for days.


To say that this was a lot to deal with, it was.  I know that I’m a strong person but at a point you need someone or something to hold you up.  I had my loved ones and friends but I needed someone to really understand what it was like to walk in my shoes.  I joined support groups and cancer organizations that were all very helpful, but I believe the biggest transformation was my first yoga retreat that the Foundation for Living Beauty hosted.  I will never forget the first day.  I felt like I belonged and I was understood.  More importantly, I was embraced so tight I felt completely supported.  I could be strong and vulnerable at the same time.  I met women whose fight was harder than mine and the courage they possessed only made me stronger.  It was the strength in that room that first day that I carry with me.


Now when I’m told how amazing I look or how great I’m doing or what an inspiration I am, I know that I carry the strength and courage of these beautiful women.  That is the gift the Foundation for Living Beauty gave me and others fighting cancer.  I did know that first day I was diagnosed that I would survive cancer but I could have never imagined the sisterhood that empowers me every day.  I’M GENA AND I’M A LIVING BEAUTY.

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