Often times when you hear about Cancer Survivor stories it ends with a celebration of beating cancer and the assumption that individuals live happily ever after and get back to their normal routine in life. Well one woman is sharing what life after cancer is really like and her foundation is making it easier for cancer patients and survivors to not just survive but thrive. Chantelle Nickson – Clark’s poignant story will change how you view cancer survivors altogether.
Chantelle Nickson Clark’s life was picture perfect. You could have pulled her life straight out of a high end magazine advertisement. She was a highly educated newlywed with a devoted husband, beautiful toddler and six-figure job. life couldn’t have been better for the St. Louis business woman. Something happened in January, 2010 that would change that perfect image. The wife of her husband’s best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her husband suggested she do a self examination. He was very concerned. So the beginning of January 2010, Chantelle did an exam and found a slight lump. She assumed that this was merely a cyst caused by her being on her menstrual cycle. She kept examining herself over the next weeks and the lump never disappeared. So she went to her OBGYN. Her OBGYN suggested that she go for a mammogram with a specialist. When she got a mammogram her doctors told her they didn’t see anything abnormal on the mammogram. Little did she know that she could have a normal mammogram but still have cancer. Instead of sending her home they suggested she do an ultra sound. “It was taking a long time and I knew then something was wrong.,” she said.
She was right. Her doctors suggested she go in for a biopsy. A week later Chantelle went to the breast surgeon. “I prayed and I was in high spirits and I felt good. I was so confident that I didn’t have cancer that I went to my appointment by myself.” On February 28th 2010 Chantelle’ sat in the office of her Breast Surgeon cheerfully but that all disappeared in minutes when her doctor told her that she had breast cancer. At that moment Chantelle began to break down. She had a daughter who was one and a half years old and she was a new wife. Her mother had passed away at breast cancer at 42 and her aunt died from the viscous disease at 28. All she could think of was if something happened to her what would become of her child and husband.
“I almost didn’t believe him. I became immobilized as the doctor softly confirmed to me, Yes YOU HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER”. I felt angry, defenseless, absent, and unprotected. The diagnosis came at such a time when my husband and I were recently married, had a beautiful two year old baby girl, and was at the height of my career. I felt as though my life was just beginning. At the young age of thirty-one, my life was full of visions, dreams, and goals that did not include being diagnosed with such a deadly disease. Shortly after being diagnosed, I endured countless surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. After each encounter, as a women I felt that parts of me were being dismantled. Instead of focusing on the negative I began to really value life and support. My husband, family, and friends each poured so much love and support into my life. As I sat during a chemotherapy treatment with music blazing praying for it all to be over, it was then when a vision was placed upon my heart. I was embraced with such a huge support system that it made me realize not everyone would be as lucky as I am. Out of my journey birthed the Pink Angels Foundation,”
The vision of The Pink Angels Foundation is to provide moral support and be a financial resource to those diagnosed with breast cancer. With the help of generous donations, our foundation is zealous in providing gift baskets, sufficient supply of protein supplements, gas cards, grocery cards, and utility assistance. In addition to, we also provide moral support during surgeries, doctor visits, and treatments. I have created a campaign to really educate people about the trials of being a Cancer Survivor. Its not easy. Unveiling the Mask was inspired by a vision that was placed on my heart. Although I am honored and humbled to be a 6yr survivor cancer still reminds me daily that it once infiltrated my body. I am constantly reminded by the scars of countless surgeries, piercing pain in hands and feet (neuropathy) from nerve damage from chemotherapy, bikini scar from full hysterectomy, liver damage, body disfigurement from double mastectomy, permanent hair loss, and other ailments not to mention. Some would say that you should be glad that you have life and that you beat cancer! I am! Truly I am! But I often wonder am I still attractive to my husband, the emotional affects of not being able to have children anymore, the struggle of knowing that all of my feminine parts have been removed. You feel less of a woman. The emotional aspect is beyond draining! You need support. Every day counts. I hope my foundation will be that place of support for all survivors.