I will never forget the Friday that forever changed my life.  I will never forget the tidal wave of emotions that washed through me again and again, through each step of the journey.  And I will never forget the kindness, love, and support that was offered to me for each new experience I fearfully undertook.

Everything started with a visit to an imaging center for a diagnostic ultrasound my doctor ordered.  At 43, I had never had a mammogram, and my doctor said I should probably get that done too, but that there was no rush.  I even told the appointment scheduler that if they couldn’t fit in the mammogram, it was OK, because my primary concern was the ultrasound.  They were able to schedule both… little did I know how much that mammogram would change my life.

So I had my very first mammogram.  Everything went as I had expected.  It was uncomfortable, but not painful, just a few minutes of uncomfortable pressure and I was on to the next procedure.  However, as soon as that procedure was over, I was asked to go back to the mammogram room.  Initially, I thought nothing of it, figuring that there was an issue with the first images, until I realized that the technician was pulling out different attachments.  As I went through this second test, it was different, and painful.  I could tell that this was not routine, that there was something amiss.

That feeling was confirmed when I was asked back to the ultrasound room for additional images.  I asked the technician point blank if there was an issue, and she said yes.  When that test was done, she told me I was meeting with the radiologist about the test results.  As she walked me down the dim hallway, she had her arm around me, rubbing my shoulder, comforting me, telling me it would be OK.   I was already crying; I knew based on how the staff was acting I was about to hear something very bad.

The radiologist had various monitors, and had my images pulled up.  I sat next to her, and she held my hand as she explained that they had found what appeared to be a form of aggressive breast cancer, and that while she hoped she was wrong, her experience told her that I needed to start treatment immediately.  I needed a biopsy first, and her staff was working to schedule it for the next Monday.

A nurse led me to the waiting room… I sat down and the tears flowed as I tried to get a grip on how my life had just changed.  I walked in for a simple mammogram, and walked out with a looming diagnosis of breast cancer. Words like carcinoma, mastectomy, metastasize, lumpectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy washed through my mind, and I was suddenly terrified.  The receptionist came to me and hugged me, and told me her story of surviving breast cancer.  I will never forget her last words of encouragement. She said “Everything is going to be fine, you are not alone.  You are one of us now.”

Little did I know then that the “us” she was referring to was such a significant group.  According to the Susan G Komen Foundation, it is estimated that there will be over two hundred thousand new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2015, and more than 40,000 deaths because of breast cancer in women.  In addition, there will be another 2,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in men, as well as over 400 deaths.   The Breast Cancer Research Foundation expands that group with its worldwide statistics, stating that globally, Breast Cancer “is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in 140 of 184 countries worldwide, and that since 2008, worldwide breast cancer incidence has increased by more than 20 percent. Mortality has increased by 14 percent.”

I know from my personal experience what an immediate comfort it was to hear the words spoken to me by the receptionist that day.  It helped so much to understand that I was truly not alone, and that along with all the scary things my diagnosis held, there was also a measure of hope knowing that others had already made this journey triumphantly. Today, I have a feeling of anticipation, knowing that because I had the courage to share part of my story, others will be impacted and find strength. -Michelle Bailey

This is one of the reasons that TGIM Digital Publishing, I AM AN ARTIST and Writing for the Soul Workshop™ have partnered to launch #ThePinkRose Project. This project is designed to help spread hope, encouragement and the strength of survivors as they share their stories to help those starting on this journey, as well as those at different places in their experience with this disease. The stories submitted will be published in the Stories of Hope series and released as an eBook. The eBook will be available as a FREE to download.

Anyone can participate regardless of ability. To participate and submit your short story, poem, art and/or music in Stories of Hope: The Pink Rose Tribute simply complete the Contact Form below and a Welcome Email will be sent to you. All ages are welcome to participate. Everyone 17 & under must have Parent/Guardian permission to participate.

Original Stories of Hope CoverEvery submission will receive a free Stories of Hope Vol I eBook as our way of saying, “Thank you.”

This compilation of heart wrenching, and cathartic short stories were written by authors participating in Writing for the Soul Workshop™ around the world.  Through a unique structure offering both engagement -and reward, this workshop brings education and passion together in a way that offers permanent life changing impact.  As noted in the forward by educator Sarah Lankford, these unique and amazing individuals have received a rare opportunity to share a story they needed to share …and develop a love of writing as a result.

Review: “I read Stories of Hope last Friday, and found it remarkable. At first, I tried to chose one story to focus on in social media posts,but quickly realized that it would be impossible to chose. I began reading the book by highlighting the titles of the most moving stories, and by the time I had finished, every title was highlighted. It’s a phenomenal compilation.” -Kasey Beduhn

Please do not submit manuscripts that contain any of the following: obscene or explicit material, unnecessary profanity, vulgarity, or inappropriate or graphic love scenes. Any material considered for publication that is found to be graphic  will require a mandatory edit of the material and may result in a rejection of the material.

Please note that we do not publish graphic material. Therefore, you may be asked to remove graphic material or language.

If you choose to submit by postal mail or electronically, those manuscripts will not be returned and will be deleted or destroyed if not accepted for publication. Please retain at least one copy of your manuscript when submitting a hard copy or electronic version for our consideration and review. For more information, you can also use the Contact Form below to connect with us.

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