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♫ Stop! In the name of…LIFE ♥

We live in a fast world. In 2018, technology alone speeds everything up. Communication, deadlines, jobs, interaction. It’s easy to get so caught up in the back and forth frenzy of it all, that we miss out on the simple pleasures of life.

But not our September survivor. One thing breast cancer has taught her is to STOP and slow down. You owe it to yourself.

"People rush through life without seeing the beauty in front of them,” she said. “I refuse to take anything for granted. Life is beautiful so open your eyes and heart so you can take it all in."

Carrie Duane was diagnosed at 41 with no previous history, any known risk factors, or any other inkling that she’d be facing one of the toughest battles of her life.

Carrie felt a lump in her right breast, but it was a cyst, and so she breathed a sigh of relief. It was only to be extra thorough that she heeded her doctor’s suggestion of having it biopsied.

Upon her next visit, they told her she had breast cancer and needed a double mastectomy but as Carrie recalls the news quickly shifted into a “wah wah wah” noise much like Charlie Brown’s school teacher. Here, have a listen.

Due to her age, Carrie was tested for genetic mutations and discovered she carries the BRCA2 gene, which as we’ve discussed in previous posts, increases the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers.

But it also affects our families. According to the National Cancer Institute, the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation can be inherited from a person’s mother or father and each child of a parent who carries the mutation in one of these genes has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation. Further, people who have inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 tend to develop breast and ovarian cancers at younger ages than people who do not carry these mutations.

"This was very important information to share with my family. I wanted them to be protected so they would not have to endure what I did."

And endure she did. After 16 rounds of chemo, breast reconstruction, and a full hysterectomy, Carrie forged her way to living cancer-free - though clearly, not at a low cost. Still, it's not the body that felt the hardest jolt.

"I could handle the physical healing from this disease, but the mental part is the most difficult."

Carrie reflects on the mental struggles she encountered after her diagnosis including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"I've tried to turn the most horrible situation in my life into a new life journey. I was angry for getting cancer, but now I know this is the path I am meant to be on with my amazing Pink Sisters."

While Carrie admits, this is one sorority she did not want to become a member of, it's a network she’s now grown to love and need.

"I have been blessed with so many opportunities to pay it forward and give back. I will continue on the path I have been put on because it is a beautiful path ahead."

Carrie also turned to lakeside living to embrace even more of nature's best as well as her inner peace.

"I love just sitting to watch the sunset every night. Living here after fighting breast cancer has really made me appreciate the simple things in life."

As we head into autumn, it’s a perfect time to embrace Carrie’s advice and slow down just enough to appreciate our surroundings outside of the rat-race that might be your day-to-day grind. Maybe it will be a turning leaf or a crisp breeze, but we hope you find the warmth within it all.

We trust that our February survivor Kim Nelson-Edwards is doing just that this month as she celebrates her birthday and as we always say – another year that breast cancer loses!

Fall is an extra exciting time for us as we gear up for our next calendar (2019 photo shoots are happening as we blog!) and another fabulous annual Pink Carpet Gala release party (details coming soon).

We can’t wait to roll out the new calendar and hope you all grab a copy to not only support this incredibly important cause, but to support the courageous women who continue to share their stories with us and inspire us all to keep our Eye on Strength and embody the Eye of the Survivor.

We are only as strong as our support system and we indeed have one heck of a fierce network, glad you have joined us!

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