While TODAY anchors showed off their #PinkPower to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month and rally around America’s 2.8 million survivors on Wednesday, viewers shared their own emotional breast cancer stories on our Facebook page.
Lisa Kaplan, a mother of two from Cooper City, Florida, showed us how she celebrated “Mommy’s last chemo!” on Jan. 17, with her husband, Marc Mutzman, and daughters, Madison and Lindsay.
Diagnosed at age 40 on Aug. 9, 2013, Kaplan told TODAY.com that the toughest part of the process was the initial diagnosis and having to tell her daughters. “I wanted to be strong for them and did not want them to be scared,” she said, “even though I was terrified.”
What she faced was by no means easy, but she now feels stronger because of it. “The nightmare roller coaster that I endured for the next few months was definitely one I did not want to be on, but unfortunately had to travel on get to where I am today,” she said.
As the daughter of another breast cancer survivor, Kaplan could relate to what Joan Lunden told Hoda Kotb: “Joan said something about how everyone said how strong she was,” Kaplan added. “I was told the same thing and was not sure if I was strong enough. But you do it and you get through everything with a positive attitude. Staying positive is the key! Your mind is half the battle.”
She had another message for TODAY fans: “Please make sure to get your mammograms...Early detection is key.”
Bobbi Williams of La Vernia, Texas, works on a military base for the U.S. Air Force and says she’s a triple-negative breast cancer survivor. “I lost my red hair, but that was OK,” she wrote, “because my new granddaughter, Kaisley, got it!”
Following eight rounds of chemo between October 2013 and January 2014 — as well as mastectomies on Aug. 20, 2013, and March 26, 2014 — Williams is now cancer-free, and says her granddaughter has been an inspiration.
“My husband and I have nine grandchildren, but she was born four days after my diagnosis [on July 31, 2013], so she is my little timeline," she said. "The bigger she gets, the farther away from cancer I get!”
Looking back, Williams says, she's realized just how far-reaching breast cancer is: “I want people to know that it is a hard, long journey, not all ribbons and pink balloons, but it is worth it! Fight for your life, hold your loved ones close and never forget that you’re not alone.”
Some families are just starting to take on the disease. Michigan resident Tracy Treece Patton is rallying behind her mother, Priscilla Treece, who’s just starting her battle against the disease. “She's having her port put in this very [minute],” she wrote on TODAY's Facebook page. “She starts chemo next week. She's my hero!”
Treece Patton told TODAY.com her mom underwent surgery two weeks ago to remove her left breast, just weeks after being diagnosed. But, she says, her mom isn’t afraid: “She tells us this is just a bump in the road and she's going to beat this and move on.”
Rachael Anthony of Virginia Beach posted a photo of a group of kids, including her son, Chase, raising money to honor his third-grade teacher, Laurie Dreelin, who died from the disease on Dec. 18, 2012. “Chase said no matter how sick she was feeling she always had a smile for her students,” Anthony told TODAY.com. “He says she taught him to never give up.”
To keep his beloved teacher's memory alive, Chase has not only continued to organize fundraisers, but wears pink every day in her honor. "He says all the time that since she can't fight, he's going to do it for her," his mom said. "She inspired so much hope strength and determination.”
Other TODAY fans touted their #PinkPower victories, including a recent win for Brittney Salisbury, who sported a sleeveless gray T-shirt with a black-and-pink skull pattern behind the words “Last Chemo: Sept. 17, 2014.”
Carol Hendricks celebrated 36 years of being cancer-free with a picture of her with her granddaughters.
Shelli Gathright says her sister Jackie Peters not only beat cancer, but did so twice. “She is the most amazing woman I have ever known!” she wrote.
Chase Anthony isn’t the only student taking initiative, as Greenville, North Carolina’s Tiffany Arthur told TODAY she launched a “Think Pink” club at her high school in honor of her grandmother, a cancer survivor.
#PinkPower has also provided friends and family survivors an opportunity to reflect on the lives and journeys of family and friends who succumbed to the disease. Amy Mullen Miller of Columbus, Ohio, paid tribute to her mother, “Gone too soon at 42.”
New York City actress and makeup artist Emma Kaye told TODAY via Twitter that #PinkPower is helping her cope with a recent loss.
Thanks to all the TODAY fans who shared your stories with us — keep showing us your #PinkPower here.
Follow TODAY.com writer Chris Serico on Twitter.