If you’ve been around Trades of Hope for the past few years, you’ve likely come to recognize a few of our models. Catalogs and promotions have featured one or more home team members or a founder as the face (or ear, wrist, neck) of our products. This beautiful woman has modeled our past Breast Cancer Awareness products. Only this year she once again shares the spotlight – or, as she jokes, “is upstaged by” – her two daughters. Of course, in true “mom” fashion, she is perfectly fine with that!
Natasha is a fierce, beautiful breast cancer survivor who has been in and out of the trenches for the past 15 years.
She recently shared her story with us. Her story thus far.
Like each of us, it is still being written as the future unfolds new mercies every morning.
Natasha faced breast cancer at a much younger age than most. One day she found a lump that concerned her enough to call her mom. They saw the doctor right away. Because of her young age, she’d never had a mammogram. Until that day when life suddenly turned upside-down. What they thought would be a simple visit to put her mind at ease turned a whirlwind — a sonogram, a mammogram, and a biopsy all in one day.
The doctors found two tumors; one was a whopping 11 cm in length!
Natasha got her stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis at age 28.
Determined to fight, she underwent chemotherapy and a lumpectomy to remove one tumor and shrink the other. She finished up this part of her battle with radiation treatments. Life became a blur of doctors’ appointments and hospital visits.
It was shortly before her radiation that Natasha met her future husband. (Sidebar: he surprised her by showing up at one of her radiation treatments the week after they met! [collective “awwww”] 💗). He and her family showed tremendous support, fueling her will to fight. She gained new insight at this point. Despite never seeing the same faces twice, she muses about the bond cancer patients share:
“You don’t feel good about anything you’re going through, but everyone else is feeling the same things you are.”
“In a sea of waiting rooms, we had a choice.
As patients, we could choose to either sit silently in our own fears, or we could uplift each other.
It’s where I learned if you’re ever feeling down on yourself, do something good for others and you’ll both feel better.”
“We’re all going through this life together.”
Natasha continued to have PET scans every 3 months and routine mammograms every 6 months. During one of these routine exams, she learned the cancer returned. This time, she opted for a double mastectomy. It likely felt like an ending, but her story was just beginning.
In light of her history, new health issues turned into new, harder decisions to face: Natasha had a hysterectomy one month after she married her sweetheart. At a point in her life when all her friends were starting families, this was a harder pill to swallow. She always wanted to be a mom. Her dream was to have two of her own children and adopt one. She rationalized her disappointment and tried to move past her longing to be a mother.
True to her mantra of focusing on helping others when you’re feeling down, she embarked on a missions trip to Haiti. Her group stayed at an orphanage. It was where one shy little girl who always kept to herself climbed up on Natasha’s lap. This angel completely stole her heart. It was no longer a dream, she knew immediately what she had to do.
She and her husband prayed about adopting.
They began the long process, plowed through roadblocks, and finally got the call they’d waited for.
While visiting the daughter they were in the process of adopting, they found out she had an older sister in another orphanage.
Plans immediately changed.
It took a LOT of hard work, perseverance, prayer and patience to be able to bring both girls into their family.
Four years later, in November 2017, this new family of 4 was finally under the same roof.
They were ALL home.
Trades of Hope is so blessed to know Natasha and her family. Her trial with breast cancer lit the path to her reuniting these separated sisters in Haiti. She embodies the heart and spirit of Trades of Hope and is a role model for all women. She and her husband have modeled our past BCA products. Her husband was our hand model for our Defender Bracelet in 2016.
Cancer is only one part of her story — a story that has reconciled family members in support of her battle and continues to bear fruit. Every step of a rocky journey working together for good.