Celebrating Breast Cancer Survivors

We’ve all heard the statistics, and more often than not, we know someone personally who is battling or has battled breast cancer. For breast cancer awareness month, we want to honor some local warriors who have battled the ugly disease and come out fighting on the other end. We’ve asked them to share some insights, and all of these brave survivors, despite their circumstances, were able to share positivity and hope.



Q & A-

Cathy Rodgers

Herndon, VA


What is your motto?

Live life to the fullest and never look back!

What was your favorite thing that people did to help?

My son, a Langley High School student, organized a huge Relay for Life run at the school in my honor. His team of 30 students had shirts printed up saying “Cuts for Cathy” and they all shaved their heads at the event to show their support. Plus many families have been generous with wonderful meals.

What have your children learned?

They have learned more patience and compassion and that cancer does not need to be scary.  I have a zest for life and I want that to continue through my children.

Susan Sonley

Reston, VA


What is your motto? 

“Until there are cures for breast cancers, we have work to do.”

What was your favorite thing people did to help?  

My sister made it a point to visit me once a week or more with my three little nephews, who gave me much joy and helped me stay positive. 

What advice would you give to someone in your position? 

Stay in touch with positive people who will provide positive support. Stay away from medical sites on the Internet and rely on the counsel of your health professionals. Try to get your doctors and treatment at a teaching hospital, which in most cases are much more in touch with the most cutting-edge treatments.

Sara Fought

Chevy Chase, MD

What surprised you the most?

The good that came as a result of my experience. Good friends I have made through my involvement with breast cancer advocacy and hopefully the impact that I have made mentoring others who were diagnosed with breast cancer (pay it forward).

What advice would you give to someone in your position?

Take one step at a time – don’t look too far down the road. Be your own advocate; you know your body best. Communicate with your doctor and with your support system and let them know how you’re feeling.

What have your children/family members learned from your experience with breast cancer? 

My husband was my caregiver. He learned that if someone wants to help either a caregiver or the person with the illness, they shouldn’t ask what they can do to help, they should just help.

Courtney Corn

Washington, D.C.

What is your motto?

One life. Live light and enjoy it all. Love ferociously and soak in the love.

What surprised you the most? 

That I have cancer.          

What advice would you give to someone in your position?

There is a light no matter what you think. Your thoughts are so powerful so you must keep them positive. Keep active.

Patrick C.

Arlington, VA 

What surprised you the most? 

How I was able to take strength from other patients who had much more difficult treatment regimens and managed to carry themselves with grace and dignity.

What advice would you give to someone in your position?  

Do not hesitate to seek support services or a trusted ear to discuss how you are feeling. 

What have your children/ family learned?  

That we are pretty good in a pinch, and need to do more to assist others in similar situations. I have become a mentor for the hospital to offer support to other males with a similar diagnosis.

Wanda Gardiner

Upper Marlboro, MD


What is your motto? 

I may have breast cancer, but breast cancer does not have me.

What was your favorite thing people did to help?

My family and friends provided awesome support by preparing and delivering meals to my home. My best friend prepared my son’s lunch when I had surgery and a family from my son’s class prepared a meal every day for a month for us. 

What advice would you give to someone in your position?

Remember that you are not alone. Many have fought and won this battle like myself. Your doctors, nurses, breast care navigators, and family and friends will embrace you to help you get through this difficult time. Reach out to support groups and other survivors to help encourage you and answer your questions. Survivors may offer advice that your doctor would not. Some of my best advice has come from other survivors. Survivors are individuals who are truly blessed. Lastly, always maintain a positive CAN-DO attitude. You have to believe that you CAN get through the situation. 

Marcia Richards


What is your motto?

Remember the show “Ally McBeal” (now I’m showing my age)? Ally would often have a theme song running through her head, depending on the situation. I found myself coming up with “theme” songs during various points of my treatment. In the beginning it was “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” from “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” I’d have my Journey “Don’t Stop Believin’” moments, “Numb” from Usher and, of course, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” from Kelly Clarkson (to name a few).

What surprised you the most?

I was surprised the most by the fact — the REALITY — that I could do IT — whatever “it” was at the moment. Chemo, being bald, double mastectomy, radiation, implants, shots — that I could and would do what needed to be done to give myself the best chance of staying alive.

Patrice Gibson


What was your favorite thing people did to help?

The best thing I got from my friends was their time. Sometimes they would just come over and hang out with me on my “cancer couch” in my living room and talk and laugh. Or hang with me while I got chemo. I know they had tons of errands to do, but they genuinely took the time to “be” with me.

What is your motto?

Keep moving forward! Keep a positive attitude. Know cancer may be an episode in your life, but it doesn’t define your life.

What was your favorite thing people did to help?

Cards, calls, meals—they all showed how much people cared. 




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