Written by Melissa Kauffeldt
Photography by: Nicole Millard
To my fellow Thrivers and Survivors! We all confront our cancer diagnosis differently - with different attitudes and results. That is what makes each of our journeys unique and so personal. I stumbled upon a quote once that really resonated with me, "Dear Cancer, thank you for making me stop and listen and remember what's truly important. YOU CAN GO NOW." I decided if I was to take this journey it was going to be the way I wanted it to be - full of life, laughs and making the most out of every day.
I am a mom of three amazing young men and have been happily married for over 20 years. I am a high school teacher and spend a great deal of my time trying to inspire and motivate our youth. I have always tried to embrace all that life sends my way and when cancer hit, I figured I should treat it no differently. Cancer does not and did not define who I am or what I can or cannot do. I made a choice to rise above and be the best version of me because of cancer, instead of in spite of it.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2015 at the age of 45 and I chose to have reconstructive surgery. After I got the “all clear” to jump back into life, I shot out like a cannon, BOOM!
I had the courage to pose nude for boudoir shots for a friends business and was featured in a video on womens’ body images and how we see ourselves after cancer. This past summer, after months and months of rigorous training, I competed as a novice competitor in the Figure category for a bodybuilding competition. All of these great things would not have happened if it were not for my journey.
I needed to take back what cancer had tried to take from me. I won. And I will keep winning. What makes me feel gorgeous? Owning who I am, kicking ass, living each day as it was intended and.....wearing expensive perfume! 😉