By Christian Dischler
Less than a month after Margaret Joly was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, her husband passed away. In a fog of disbelief, she arrived for the first visit with her oncologist. The doctor’s words came in a blur.
“Will I lose my hair?” she asked. He nodded and her heart sank. “I had a complete meltdown. It was everything at once, it threw me.”
She looked at her doctor and began to cry, “I don’t think I can go through with this. I think this is too much for me.” He placed his arm around her and reassured her they would get through it together. Suddenly, Joly felt the fog begin to dissipate. “I was at my absolute lowest point, but when he hugged me it became a high point. That shows how powerful compassion is.”
Tragedy had swept through Joly’s life like a hurricane from the Gulf, but she was determined to weather the storm. She boarded up from negative thoughts and stocked up on optimism.
“From the beginning, positive thinking worked for me. I would tell everyone how good everything in my life is because I knew my attitude would be important,” she said, “and my faith helped me keep my head clear and looking forward.”
Facing these decisions, Joly found herself leaning on the guidance of her doctors, and drawing confidence from their advice, she underwent a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery.
“It ended up being the best decision for me.” Two months after her surgery she underwent 16 treatments of chemotherapy and lost her hair.
Margaret embodies the strength of positivity and spreads joy wherever she goes. Her exuberance is prolific and intrinsic to her personality, but it wasn’t until she faced breast cancer that she discovered her true strength.
“I thought I was more dependant and less of a leader, but I found out I was stronger than I ever thought, and I realized I was capable of anything. My perspective about life changed. Every morning I would wake up and feel fortunate, I didn’t take anything for granted.”
Joly began to explore a deeper purpose buried within her experience.
“What plans do I have?” Her internal thoughts provoked an outward vision. “As I looked over and saw a volunteer working with patients, it dawned on me, this is what I will do. I can give people hope if they can see that I’ve been through this, and they’ll see they can do the same thing.”
Now, five years since her diagnosis, Joly continues to volunteer by sharing her story with cancer patients and providing hope.
“My cancer is a chapter in my life but now I’m starting a new one. I’m moving on but I don’t want to forget about it because it made me a better person in every way,” she said. “It strengthened everything.”
She wants women to know how necessary it is to follow-up with yearly appointments and create a routine for themselves. But she also wants to create an open dialogue about breast cancer and normalize those discussions.
“Talk about it. It’s not the end of the world and it’s healthy to discuss. I’m walking proof that you can get through it, and that generosity will always outshine pain.”
FEED YOUR SOUL
Interested in how to support local business and give back to cancer survivors at the same time? 10 percent of all services provided by Rosé Beautique & Wellness Spa are donated to Pink Heart Funds, a charity helping cancer patients acquire wigs, free breast prosthesis and post-mastectomy bras. Rosé owner Christina Viers wants her clients to pamper themselves in her cozy salon while supporting an incredible cause at the same time.