Nov 17, 2017
I want to tell my story to be able to help someone else. On October 14, 2017, I celebrated 25 years ...READ STORY
Oct 27, 2017
I was diagnosed with advance breast cancer in 2014. It was the most horrible news I ever wanted to h...READ STORY
Oct 18, 2017
Dear Miss Gaynor: You, and your song really changed my life and helped me to “survive” a most di...READ STORY
Sep 8, 2017
I am a cancer survivor of a rare carcinoid of the thymus, I was given five years to live. “To ...READ STORY
Aug 28, 2017
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in grade school. She went through the usual treat...READ STORY
Jul 24, 2017
I had a dad who physically abused the four of us, but especially my brothers. He was extremely cruel...READ STORY
Jun 16, 2017
In a nutshell: Since the age of seven, I have survived 4 brain tumors, hydrocephalus, Type1 Diabete...READ STORY
Jun 7, 2017
In 2010, my senior year of high school, I was raped. It took me so long to understand what happened....READ STORY
May 22, 2017
I grew up in a middle class Long Island neighborhood with both parents and two siblings. When I was ...READ STORY
May 19, 2017
I knew my husband was having an affair… One day full of self-pity and victimhood, I screamed at my...READ STORY
May 17, 2017
I needed to earn enough money for my daughter for her school, and I was told about a good job in Eng...READ STORY
May 16, 2017
Gloria Gaynor entered my life in 1973. I had just scored a volunteer DJ position at a local communit...READ STORY
May 16, 2017
My name is Susan and my story is called Mother Cub Love. It’s actually not so much my story as the...READ STORY
May 16, 2017
In December of 2011 I was diagnosed with a rare disease, Chiari Malformation. Chiari Malformation (C...READ STORY
May 16, 2017
I once stood before a young woman who was on the verge of ending her life. I stared into her eyes an...READ STORY
May 12, 2017
Rose, Millie, Judy and I headed into our early and mid-forties with equal amounts of uncertainty, fe...READ STORY
May 9. 2017
“I Will Survive” was beautifully sung just for me by a male survivor friend at my “Celebrate W...READ STORY
May 8, 2017
When I was three weeks into my senior year of college, I was involved in a fatal car crash in which ...READ STORY
Apr 20, 2017
My four sisters and I were all victims of sexual abuse as children, and for my youngest sister who w...READ STORY
Apr 20, 2017
My story is about having survived sexual abuse as a child from my teacher and then going on to devel...READ STORY
Apr 16, 2017
In 2006 I found myself married to a man I was petrified of. Despite the fact that “Scott” had th...READ STORY
Apr 14, 2017
Thank you Gloria Gaynor for your song from years past “I Will Survive”. That was my motto when I...READ STORY
Apr 14, 2017
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and underwent a double mastectomy, then a few years later...READ STORY
Apr 14, 2017
I was young and impressionable gal who had just moved to NYC at the age of 23. I was an anxious and ...READ STORY
Apr 7, 2017
I served in Baghdad for a year back in 2005. I started going for counseling after getting tired of d...READ STORY
Apr 7, 2017
I was married and I was so unhappy. My husband of 2 years was violent and every day things just got ...READ STORY
Apr 7, 2017
My name is Sherry and I am 34 years-old, a native of Naperville, Illinois. This is my story of how I...READ STORY
Jan 27, 2017
My name is Suzanne March. I am a married mother of a 7 year old and I live in Chicago. I am 35 years...READ STORY
Jan 26, 2017
My name is Meredith Fell. In 2003 I discovered a very large lump. The doctor diagnosed me with stage...READ STORY
Jan 26, 2017
My survival story pertains to my first marriage. After being married for a little over a year, I cam...READ STORY
Story of Survival
I grew up in a single-parent home with a single mother and six siblings—therein lay the crux of my problems. Too few people know the devastating long-term effects that can ravage the life of a child raised without a father—or at least a good father figure. I had no uncles—my mother was an only child—and my father had two sisters but no brothers.
When I was five years old, we moved from an apartment building to a two-family house. There was a young, childless couple, John and Mary, who lived on the second floor. I often visited them, and they played with me every day.
One day Mary went to the hospital to deliver their first child. I had come to think of them as an aunt and uncle, so it was not strange to me when John invited me up to their apartment to have cookies and milk. I innocently allowed him to lead me into the bedroom, where he proceeded to lift me onto the bed and remove my panties. As he began to molest me, I looked up at him and said, “My mommy’s not gonna like this!”
He responded angrily: “Your mother’s not gonna know!” “Yes, she will, cuz I’ll tell her,” I timidly said. At that he hurriedly replaced my panties, snatched me from the bed, and dragged me to the front door of the apartment, where he shoved me out with a growl: “Git on back downstairs. You make me sick.” Looking back on it now, I think he probably meant, “You make me scared.”
My mother was a no-nonsense, take-no-crap-from-anyone kind of person, and John knew it. Because of that, I never told her what happened that day. I believed she would probably have hurt him seriously, which would have meant jail time and that I would be left without a mother as well as a father. I had no way of realizing then that John had stolen my innocence that afternoon and had reinforced the low self-esteem and abandonment issues I already suffered, born of fatherlessness.
Fatherlessness, coupled with this incident, set the stage for my behavior in male relationships from then on. I grew up feeling that every rejection or maltreatment from any man for any reason was because I wasn’t worthy of better treatment. When I was twelve, my mother had a relationship with a man she grew to love. For two years she kept him away from my siblings and me, so as not to have someone around who might, in some way, harm her daughters. Eventually he came to live with us, and we grew to like him a lot. He was a father figure—until one day he sexually molested me while I was asleep in my bedroom and my mother was asleep in hers.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked as I awoke. “I was just trying to see if you were messing with those little boys,” he answered. “You could have asked me that,” I snapped back. I stopped him before he had gone too far, but the damage to my psyche had already been done. Again I didn’t tell my mom, even though her greatest fear had come to pass. I had seen her alone and lonely for years, and I didn’t want to get in the way of her happiness with the man she loved. I also didn’t want her to get into trouble for trying to seek retribution against him.
The incidents with my stepfather and John, as well as my reactions to them, set the tone for my future relationships with men and became par for the course. I ended up being rejected, disrespected, and neglected in every relationship, from puberty up to and including my marriage. When I was eighteen, I was naïve enough to trust the cousin of an ex-boyfriend. I allowed him to take me to visit his girlfriend—only to find that not only was she not home, there was no one there at all. He raped me. “Don’t even think of screaming,” he threatened. “No one else is here, no one will hear you, and you will only piss me off. So, act like you like it!”
When I got home that night, I went straight to the bathroom and tried to scrub away the guilt and shame I felt. It did not work. I never told anyone about it because, again, I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble for trying to defend me. Legal recourse never crossed my mind. Again, I just considered it all par for the course.
When I met my husband, Linwood, I thought he was my knight in shining armor. He was handsome, intelligent, gallant, chivalrous, generous, and so much fun. After two years I made him my manager. As artist/girlfriend and manager/boyfriend, our relationship was great for two years that was followed by a not-so-terrific one. In the midst of my trouble in paradise, I received a notice from my record company. For no apparent reason, they were not renewing my recording contract, which would expire at the end of the year.
One night, at one of my shows, I had an accident onstage and woke up the next morning paralyzed from the waist down. I ended up in the hospital for spinal surgery. People were going around the record company saying, “The Queen is dead.” Was I simply a one-hit wonder with “Never Can Say Goodbye”? During the three-month hospital stay that followed, God got my attention. Gripped with fear of abandonment, physical handicap, and showbiz obscurity, I reached out to Him for help.
True to form, the Lord didn’t fail me. Within a year I had a massive hit with “I Will Survive,” and Linwood and I were married. Like so many innocent women, I thought, now that we’re married, things will be different; our focus will be on building a happy family together. I wasn’t the perfect wife, but I was attentive, trusting, reassuring, supportive, affectionate, loving, caring, and faithful. Linwood wasn’t all that bad as a husband. He was supportive as far as my career was concerned—physically protective and affectionate. But he took disrespect and disregard to a whole new level. I think he became so self-absorbed that he didn’t care if he was being hurtful to me. He had no concept of commitment and thought a grown man should be free to do whatever he wanted, stay out all night as many nights as he liked—so he did. It’s enough to say, as I often do, that I stayed at that party way too long.
What Linwood didn’t count on was the impact of “I Will Survive” and how much it would do for me. When I recorded the song, I thought of it concerning the courage it produced in me regarding my career, my mom’s passing, and the surgery I’d just had, and how it would encourage and inspire other people as well.
Now it became my mantra. It guided me in holding on to my faith and trusting God to bring me victoriously through all my trials and tribulations. I learned that internal scars—like those caused by fatherlessness, my stepfather, my ex-boyfriend’s cousin, and Linwood—put holes in your soul. Those scars can be just as deep as physical ones. They are just as painful and damaging, and generally hurt longer and are more debilitating. It took a while, but I grew strong, and I truly learned how to get along. My courage grew, and I began to recognize my own strength and the power God had placed in me. I spent several more years trying to make my marriage successful. But, as I told my husband on several occasions, “The problem with pushing a person to her limit is that no one knows what her limit is until she reaches it, and then it’s too late.”
Indeed, it became too late. I had reached my limit and came to the conclusion I couldn’t make the marriage work on my own and it was time to end it. My husband had taken up permanent residence in the state of denial and it was time for me to make a move as well. When I told my pastor I was getting a divorce, he asked me how I felt about it. After a long pause, I said, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!”
I never missed Linwood because, to tell the truth, he had left me years before the divorce. But it was great getting to know the new me, the me so many abusive men had caused to hide deep down inside. Well, she’s out now. I love her, and God loves her, and she’ll never go into hiding again.
Indeed, I will survive.
Story of Survival
I want to tell my story to be able to help someone else. On October 14, 2017, I celebrated 25 years of sobriety and for that I am grateful to God, my sponsors, friends and family for that.
In these 25 years, I lost my only son, my parents, my grandparents, my brother and other significant people in my life. Also I had an aortic dissection that I had to be airlifted to a hospital and it saved my life.
In 2013, I was about to graduate college with my 1st degree and I had to have surgery to repair the dissection. Before that I had to have 2 coronary stents placed. It took 2 surgeries to repair my dissection but 2 years later I was having stomach problems, so I went to a GI doctor. Unfortunately, they found a rare form of Sarcoidosis in my esophagus.
Three awesome things happen to me. I did graduate with my Associates degree and then I had the 1st heart surgery a couple of weeks later. If it is God’s will, I will graduate with my Bachelors degree, in a field to help people like me, with a drug addictions and illnesses next year. Last thing is after smoking cigarettes for over 30 years, I finally quit and it is going 6 years. I thank God everyday for my life just the way it is but I also ask that it gets better.
Thank you for letting me share my story.
Story of Survival
I was diagnosed with advance breast cancer in 2014. It was the most horrible news I ever wanted to hear. I went through chemo surgery and radiation.
Was hospitalized a couple of times for a blood clot in my lung. I finished my treatments in January 2015. I’m bless to be here withy family and the people I love. I’m in remission for 2 years.
Story of Survival
Dear Miss Gaynor: You, and your song really changed my life and helped me to “survive” a most difficult time for me and my children. I am so pleased to get this opportunity to tell you this and to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You see, I was a young mother in my early 30s on the verge of a very messy divorce, feeling lost, alone, depressed, defeated and helpless. One day a new song was introduced on the radio called “I Will Survive”.
I thought: “Wow! However does this woman (Gloria Gaynor) know what I’ve been going through?” Both you and “I Will Survive” helped me get through it all and begin to change my life. My children and I used to sing (loudly!) in the car whenever it came on the radio. Each time I heard it I felt more energized and more determined. It became my own personal anthem! You actually saved me a fortune in therapy sessions.
I began my business (a dance studio and performing arts center) 40 years ago this year. In fact, for our Grande Finale we are having many of our past students back to perform onstage at our 40th Anniversary Performance. Guess what our theme song will be? Yup! It will be my ever favorite song by my ever favorite performer, Miss Gloria Gaynor – “I Will Survive”. This year I chose it as our studio’s performance finale.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Miss Gaynor. You have made such a difference in so many lives, mine included.
Story of Survival
I am a cancer survivor of a rare carcinoid of the thymus, I was given five years to live.
“To God be the glory,” I am in my 14 year celebration of Survivor and have a nonprofit organization call “Devoted 2 Healing Inc”. I now pay it forward to help other people with all heath issues, learn about alternative Eastern world of herb Doctors. I can’t do this alone I need your help!!!
Story of Survival
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in grade school. She went through the usual treatments and it eventually went to Stage 4 metastatic. So, I spent most of my youth with a terminally ill mother.
I didn’t know a lot because information like that was not generally shared with children back then. Fast forward to present day – my daughter is around the same age I was then and dealing with my own breast cancer diagnosis. I underwent many of the same treatments as my mother but shared everything with my daughter. Eventually, I chose to stop Western treatments due to the side effects I refused to live with.
I’m committed to an even more intensely holistic lifestyle than I’d previously been living. As a kid, I’d made a promise to myself that I would do all of the natural things I could do that would prevent cancer in my adult life. But clearly, I needed to up my game. At the time of my diagnosis, I’d been married one month and had played my first gig with Gloria Gaynor a month before our wedding.
So, I had these wonderful new positive events that were immediately followed by the crushing news. My husband, daughter, and I all agreed to engage in major lifestyle enhancements since we were already doing many of the “right” things. It’s now been 5 years and while I’m not considered in remission, I’m living life to the fullest. With the addition of lymphedema to my medical issues (due to surgery and radiation), I’ve had to modify my trumpet and now wear compression gear during my waking hours (special thanks to Lymphedivas for making them at least look cool!)
I still travel the world with Gloria and the gang and so far, I’m doing much more than simply surviving. In addition to making music and loving my little family, I’ve been very proactive in the Cancer and Lymphedema communities. Life is meant to be lived!
“You’ve got to do your best!”-Eddie Pazant
Story of Survival
I had a dad who physically abused the four of us, but especially my brothers. He was extremely cruel when hurting them physically and emotionally.
For example, when my little brother was two or three, my dad told him to pack his suitcase because he was a bad boy and couldn’t live with us anymore. He put all of us in the car, including my mom who did nothing to protect us, and drove to an isolated place far away from our home and told my brother to get out. We were all crying and I will never forget my brother’s little crying face out the window as we were all screaming for my dad to stop as he pulled the car away. Eventually he did stop and went back to pick up my brother. Another time he hit my brother so hard with a two-by four that he broke the board. I remember him chasing me all around the house with a pair of vise grips to yank out my first loose tooth, with my heart racing so hard with fear that I thought I would die. As I grew older, my choices of men were not great, and I blame my choices on my dad’s model.
I married my first husband and had four children with him. I learned after he told me that he was leaving me that he had had several affairs. At this time we had a baby and children ages 6, 9, and 11, and had moved into a new neighborhood. I had not worked for 12 years I was petrified and I was introduced to Gloria’s song by my neighbors, which fit my situation perfectly. I went back to work and just dealt with everything the best I could. The more I faced it the better I felt.
Then I met and married a fantastic guy with 2 more kids and although the blended family wasn’t perfect we worked together to make our love survive. We have survived our parents’ deaths (two with dementia), his two siblings’ deaths, our grandson’s tragic death from SIDS, my diagnoses of epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis and a brain tumor. I am facing these last medical diagnoses currently but with my husband’s support we are doing ok. Thanks, Gloria for the inspiration I needed during the divorce to value myself and to then find a man who loved me for myself and to not settle for any less.
Story of Survival
In a nutshell:
Since the age of seven, I have survived 4 brain tumors, hydrocephalus, Type1 Diabetes, double-vision, radiation-induced ADD, depression, 15 brain surgeries, 18 months of chemo, & 31 days of radiation.
Story of Survival
In 2010, my senior year of high school, I was raped. It took me so long to understand what happened.
The police didn’t believe me. My friends didn’t believe me. Since then, I’ve become an advocate for those who have been assaulted, using my voice when I thought I had none.
Story of Survival
I grew up in a middle class Long Island neighborhood with both parents and two siblings. When I was 13 my dad choked to death in front of me and that’s when my problems started. I was heavily involved in sports and my friends and I would drink on the weekends. I never talked about my dad’s death, it was easier to numb my feelings in alcohol. I met my future husband who was 7 years older than me and worked as a butcher and at night in a bar. I would go with all my friends to his bar and it became the local hangout.
My drinking escalated at that time and the weekend drinking turned into weekdays. I was drinking about 4 days a week. I got engaged and got pregnant so we decided to marry quickly. My husband then became a police officer working evening hours which enabled me to continue partying even after I had my first child.
I was stricken with Rheumatoid Arthritis and the drinking helped cover the pain. I was unable to work because of the pain and my drinking got worse as time went on. I was put on biologic meds and self injections and that coupled with my drinking made my life a living hell. I became pregnant with my second child but unfortunately because of all the meds my son was born with severe eye problems. It was harder and harder to get out of bed every morning and my family was horribly affected. I left my family, moved in with my mom and continued this path of self-destruction. It got to the point where I was so sick and was going to die. I was in and out of detoxes until one day I finally surrendered and went to Long Island Center for Recovery.
I continue to go to meetings every day for the past 8 years which has helped me tremendously in all aspects of my life. It has taken many many years for me to fix my relationship with my kids, my children had to work so hard in order to forgive me and trust me once again. I go one day at a time, sometimes a minute at a time. It took all the strength I had not to fall apart, and you see me, somebody new, did you think I would crumble, did you think I would lay down and die, oh no, not I, “I Will Survive”!
I hate meetings.
I hate your higher power.
I hate anyone who has a program.
To all who come in contact with me,
I wish you suffering and death.
Allow me to introduce myself…
I am the disease of addiction.
Alcoholism, drugs and eating disorders.
I am cunning, baffling and powerful. Thats me!
I’ve killed millions and enjoyed doing it.
I love to catch you by surprise.
I love pretending I’m your friend and lover.
I’ve given you comfort.
Wasn’t I there when you were lonely?
When you wanted to die, didn’t you call on me?
I love to make you hurt.
I love to make you cry. Better yet…
I love it when I make you so numb,
You can’t hurt and you can’t cry.
You feel nothing at all.
I give you instant gratification.
All I ask for in return is long term suffering.
I’ve always been there for you.
When things were going right, you invited me back.
You said you didn’t deserve to be happy.
I agreed with you.
Together we were able to destroy your life.
People don’t take me seriously.
They take strokes seriously.
They take heart attacks seriously.
Even diabetes, they take seriously.
Yet, without my help, these things wouldn’t be possible.
I’m such a hated disease, yet I don’t come uninvited.
You choose to have me.
Many have chosen me, instead of love and peace.
I hate all of you who work a 12step program.
Your program, your meetings, and your higher power weaken me.
I can’t function in the manner I am accustomed to.
I am your disease.
For now I must lie here quietly.
You don’t see me, but I’m growing more powerful everyday.
When you settle for mere existence, I thrive.
When you feel fully alive, I weaken.
But I’m always here waiting for you.
Until we meet again,
I wish you continued suffering and death.
Story of Survival
I knew my husband was having an affair… One day full of self-pity and victimhood, I screamed at my four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter as they ran through the house playing. I slammed kitchen drawers and kicked at cabinets. Over my own yells, I heard a different scream come from the family room. My God, I forgot all about her. I rushed in and expected to see my four-month-old baby hurt, but she greeted me with a smile. Dumbfounded, I watched as she screamed again with a beautiful smile.
What happened next seems surreal, but my baby and I stared at each other—and it was as if we were communicating.
She smiled. I heard her message, in my mind. “Can you see what you are teaching me?”
“Yes, I see.”
“And is this what you want to teach me?”
“So, what are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know. I guess something will to have to change. But what? What am I supposed to do?” I rattled on telling her I cry all the time, can’t eat or sleep. How could I describe to my baby the emptiness in my heart? I wanted to explain everything, yet it wasn’t necessary because she understood it all.
Her eyes twinkled. She smiled at me. “And… ? What are you going to do?” Her silent voice echoed in my heart.
And I knew.
I started to question everything, but stopped myself. A deep, inner calling beckoned… I remembered the words to Gloria Gaynor’s song. I felt her words: I was petrified. Then her refrain became my mantra, I will survive.
With an inner strength, the angry, feel-sorry-for-me attitude turned to future dreams. A new home for my three children and myself. Setting a different example. Happiness. Teaching my children about love. Real love.
Three months later we moved into a new home. I’ve had many ups and downs since that move, but regardless of what obstacles I may face, or what pain and hardship I may have to endure… there is no doubt, Gloria Gaynor’s words empowered me and affirmed that I will survive despite my circumstances.
Story of Survival
I needed to earn enough money for my daughter for her school, and I was told about a good job in England. We were picked up and driven to a port; we went on a ferry to England. When we arrived they said we were going to work for good money, so we worked very hard, for long hours, to finish the job well.
But when we finished, we never got paid. Instead we were locked up.
They forced us to do more work. They would beat us and threaten us if we didn’t finish the work. We couldn’t go anywhere because they took our passports, ID and money. I felt hopeless, totally powerless. We would fix up houses, do gardening; I had to move heavy things that I could not even lift. I had to work from early morning until very late, 7 days a week. All we were given was some tobacco, alcohol, bread and butter for the week, that’s how we lived.
At this time, I knew I was a slave.
I felt very sick, hungry and tired all the time. I was sold, from person to person, bartered for right in front of my face. I heard one man say I wasn’t even worth £300. I felt worthless. Like rubbish on the floor.
I finally decided I would rather be killed trying to escape than stay.
I knew one man who lived a long way away. I had no money or transport so I had to walk as fast as I could or they would catch me. My legs are bad because they beat me but I had to keep going. I walked for 10 days with no stopping. I walked about 200 miles, but I was very scared.
Look! These are the shoes I found, they are the wrong size but they are all I had!
When I was walking all I could think about was [the traffickers]. They are chasing me, they will find me. I was very worried. I thought of my daughter too. I had let her down so much. I felt shameful. I was very cold, hungry and alone.
Eventually I reached the city of my friend, but had no way to find him. I knew this was the end for me.
I was very happy when I met with Hope for Justice. I knew someone was going to help me! They gave me new clothes, food and a very comfortable bed. They took me to London to get a new passport. Hope for Justice have been very good to me.
I am so happy to be free, to be alive!
Story of Survival
Gloria Gaynor entered my life in 1973. I had just scored a volunteer DJ position at a local community centre. The gay community of Toronto at the time was very small but I grew many friendship by joining the activist group that ran the community centre. In late 1973 the popular local all ages discotheque “The Manatee” was buzzing with a mysterious new singer. I peered over the DJ’s shoulder to find out who this was and what it was called … Honeybee by Gloria Gaynor! I rushed to my local small urban R&B record store that imported from Buffalo and got 2 copies. My dance floor buzzed for 5 years to that song. That DJ whose shoulder I peered over once played it 6 times in a row.
We were all amazed at the success when Never Can Say Goodbye was released the following year, reaching #2 on the local radio charts. The subsequent album of the same name and it’s ground breaking disco suite on one side (along with Real Good People from B) dominated our dancing for years to come. Just about every Gloria Gaynor release in the 70s got heavy disco play & chart action (remember Billboard Disco Chart?) but then 1978 happened. Gloria’s anthem I Will Survive took the world by a storm beyond the discos. Everywhere I went I heard my favorite. I pushed many quarters into the jukebox.
The turn of the decade was not good to disco, as we all know but in 1983 Gloria brought it all back with I Am What I Am. Joy filled the air again. I lost track of Gloria during the 80s but by the late 80s she was back again with Love Is Just A Heartbeat Away (remix) and continued through the 90s with hits like Perfect World and Oh What A Life. When Oh What A Life was a big club hit I took some chocolate bars to a club and handed them out. I put a label over the name after Oh adding What A Life. In 1998 I joined the internet and the first I searched for was Gloria Gaynor. I fondly remember an early ground break live chat she had at time wherein I expressed to her that she was my #1 to which she replied “I am honored.” My reply was “No I am honored.” I danced in the new year at the turn of the century with Last Night and people in the club would come up to me and ask “Who is singing that?”. The surprise on their faces and declaration that they were going out to buy it made my joy.
The early 21C brought more happiness with Just Keep Thinking About You when I would shout out to the DJ during the intro “GLORIA!” just before Gloria would chime in “Oh yes it is!” is a cherished memory. Taking the train to visit my parents and playing I Never Knew on my headphones (discman anyone?) while displaying the CD for those who wanted to see or having it on my rental car stereo as I entered my parent’s driveway are forever in my mind. Gloria Gaynor came to Toronto and performed her hits including I Never Knew and one of the high points of my life was when she reached out to me from the stage and invited me to give her kiss on the cheek. Of course I did!
Today I look forward to Gloria’s new Testament. I have always respected her convictions and honesty and her love. As she has said herself, her songs are all about love. Through these decades I have had my losses, my trauma and my joy and through each and everyone of those events a Gloria Gaynor song has been there to see my through.
Story of Survival
My name is Susan and my story is called Mother Cub Love. It’s actually not so much my story as the story of my son, our family and our journey. When he was very young, he was struggling with multiple medical issues, and was eventually diagnosed with high-functioning autism. I was told there was no hope, no cure, and that the only thing I should be thinking about was medication. What a terrible thing to tell a new mother!
Luckily, I decided to go another route. I poured myself into researching his medical issues, consulting with doctors, therapists and other parents, trying to learn everything I possibly could to help him heal and have a better life. It was definitely not the “easy way out”. It was a demanding and frustrating path that was constantly changing, with one step forward and three steps back.
It was on one particularly hard day of regression that something happened that would change our course forever. It was the end of a very long day. I was exhausted, worried, frustrated, and had a very sick little boy on my hands. I was literally at the end of my rope and was feeling very defeated.
My husband got home from work, took one look at me, and told me to go in the other room and take a break. He knew I needed a little time to myself, so he took over and sent me off to our bedroom. I locked myself in the bathroom, ran a hot bath and turned on some music.
And that’s when it happened. Gloria’s beautiful, angelic voice came pouring out, singing “I Will Survive”, and literally lifted me up. She reminded me that I could do it; I could persevere. She reminded me that I had to be strong – not only for myself, but especially for my son.
It was a turning point for me, that’s for sure.
Flash forward to today where my sweet little boy is now a growing teenager. He’s a straight-A student in a classical education charter school tackling a very rigorous curriculum. He’s learning Latin, advanced mathematics, philosophy, literature and art history. He’s in chess club, honors choir and theater. To put it simply; he is thriving.
I could not be more proud of him or more thankful to Gloria for helping inspire me in my time of need. I hope that sharing our story might inspire others out there who may be feeling defeated too. I say to you, don’t ever give up hope! There is ALWAYS something else you can do. And if you need that extra little push, turn to Gloria like we did. It certainly worked for us, and I think it might work for you too.
Story of Survival
In December of 2011 I was diagnosed with a rare disease, Chiari Malformation. Chiari Malformation (CM), which is a neurological disorder. Those with CM have structural defects of their cerebellum where part of their brain descends out of the skull into the spinal area.
My health journey however started long before December of 2011. Those with rare diseases struggle with finding proper diagnoses. This can lead to many months and or years of hopelessness. Throughout this time people are either treated for something they don’t have or told there is nothing that can be done for them. I experienced both ends of the spectrum.
For 2 years, starting in the summer of 2009 before my senior year in high school, I was misdiagnosed. I remember going to numerous different doctors appointments receiving the run around and no answers. I began to lose hope and at one point I even felt as if maybe I was just a hypochondriac. However, I was blessed with parents who believed me and never stopped fighting. They didn’t take no for an answer.
These were two of the hardest years of my life. I had no understanding of what was going on with me. All I knew was I didn’t feel good and nothing would help. I would describe the pressure in my head as a balloon in a jar that you kept putting air into even though it could expand no further. I had to stop all types of physical activity, including dance, which was my passion and outlet. My life came to a complete halt out of the blue.
Fast forwarding to December of 2011, I went for my bi-yearly MRI and we received the ominous news that I had Chiari Malformation. We now knew what was affecting me for the past 2 years of my life which was somewhat of a relief but we had no idea of what it was which began a whole new element to my health journey. And since knowledge of rare diseases is not abundant it takes time to find the right place to get help. My family and I found the Chiari Institute, in New York and we booked an appointment for July 23rd. We found out on that day that I was a candidate for surgery and that was my only hope of finding relief, but that the choice was ours. After talking about all of the pros and cons we decided the pros won out and I would purse a surgery date.
Feeling a range of emotions we patiently awaited August 14th to come. As I went back for surgery we could of never anticipated what happened next. I actually ended up having 2 brain surgeries 2 weeks apart, August 14th and August 28th. There were some complications after my first surgery and 12 days later I started to leak cerebrospinal fluid out of my incision, which had me on an emergency flight back to New York and the OR with my life in jeopardy and my future unclear.
Today, almost 5 years later, I am doing great. I do not simply have my passion of dance back in my life, but I am blessed with a dream come true everyday dancing for the NBA and the Detroit Pistons. I no longer am just going through the motions much like I was, but I am LIVING and LOVING life.
Life happens and we can either run from it or run with it. Running from it seems like the easiest route but running with it helps us to become the person we are meant to be. I personally choose to embrace whatever is given to me. It is not always easy and I have my days, which are a struggle, but when it comes down to it I have never regretted facing a challenge. Challenges help us grow and develop into the people are we meant to become. They test us and push us to our limits, sometimes until we break, but the key is that to come through it you have to go through it. I’ve learned through this journey that everything has a purpose and a time even though we may not understand why at the time and sometimes we never will. Most importantly, I’ve learned that life is worth fighting for. I promise if you keep pushing through the tough times, even when all hope seems lost, you will be thankful you did.
Story of Survival
I once stood before a young woman who was on the verge of ending her life. I stared into her eyes and watched as she drowned herself in tears of pain, shame, and hurt. She looked directly into my eyes and I felt the weight of her helplessness and confusion. She cried out in desperation, asking for an explanation as to why her life had been filled with so much anguish.
She thought about the nightmares that were her constant nocturnal companion, not allowing her to forget. She remembered waking up in rumpled, sweaty sheets, feeling the cold, gripping fingers of her memories as they violated her again and again; the cold tentacles of terror that came over her each and every time she relived the agony of being dishonored; every disgusting touch, and every brutal strike. Even though she held her hands up to cover her ears, she could still hear every dreadful word ever spoken to her, the voices echoing against the emptiness of her hollow heart. No matter how many tears she shed, they couldn’t wash away the suffering of her soul. The weight of abuse became unbearable and too much for her to carry alone. The woman I saw was me, peering into a mirror.
There I was, at a rest stop. Homeless. I remember thinking, there was no place for me to truly rest. The fatigue that I felt was beyond my physical body, it penetrated my soul. When you endure such an event in your life, you have to wonder- what kept you? For me, it was hope and the legendary voice of the one and only, Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive.
I remember listening to those words while I slept in my car, with nothing but the weight of abuse wrapped around me. I couldn’t quite understand the depth of the words and what they would mean in my life, but I became certain, I would survive.
I have the privilege of calling, the woman behind the voice that became my life compass, friend. But she will forever remain my northern star.
Story of Survival
Rose, Millie, Judy and I headed into our early and mid-forties with equal amounts of uncertainty, fear and wild abandon as we were simultaneously terminating our long-term marriages. We were at a pivotal point in our lives, afraid and unsure about what we really wanted. One thing we knew for certain was that what we’d wanted at age eighteen, when we all married right out of high school, wasn’t what we wanted anymore. We were on a quest to discover what it was that we were missing, and the delightful Ms. Gloria Gaynor accompanied us on our collective journey.
The four of us, fondly referred to “the summer of our lives” as a period of enlightenment and self discovery as we wondered if we would actually survive on our own. Although it lasted longer than one season, those few months left us intoxicated with newfound freedom and resulted in unparalleled personal growth. We encouraged one another, listened, laughed, linked arms and lock-step marched to the beat of our own drums. We danced summer nights and our worries away on the patio of an open air bar and grill as Gloria repeatedly belted out our mantra, “I Will Survive”. Ms. Gaynor was instrumental in getting us through the turbulent “summer of our lives.”
We all developed healthy new relationships and remarried. Then one by one, within a short period, my friends left me, due to death from cancer and sudden heart attack. I felt robbed of precious friendships. Even though I was happily remarried, I felt alone again. With faith, determination and Gloria Gaynor’s
ever-present song spinning in my head, I survived, again.
The lyrics of Gloria Gaynor’s song, “I will survive,” helped me through some of the worst periods of mourning. I envisioned my friends and me as young women with big hair, kicking up our heels, on an outdoor patio where we danced with one another until the plastic caps on our high heels wore off. When the metal met the concrete and made sparks I thought of it as primitive pyrotechnics for I Will Survive.
I feel a deep spiritual connection to Gloria Gaynor and my late friends when her anthem blares from overhead speakers. I feel like it is a wink from heaven. I want to jump up and down and tell the world I survived… thanks to Gloria Gaynor and the Good Lord.
Story of Survival
“I Will Survive” was beautifully sung just for me by a male survivor friend at my “Celebrate With Me” Book Signing Party. Writing my book, “Listen to the Cry of the Child,” took courage and strength but just hearing those powerful words of Gloria Gaynor’s song, “I was petrified & afraid” made me think over the many things that had transpired in my life when I was a victim. I suddenly realized that I had survived so many severe very dark traumas! As my friend continued to play the piano he looked at me and sang, “Spending so many nights feeling sorry for myself and “thinking about my broken heart” helped me realize that because of my God-given gifts with deep faith and empathy towards those with broken wings, I was a prime target for domestic violence!
I began to think about why I had gone down the path of co- dependancy rescuing people who were just like me. Wow, I heard him sing, “I’ll stay alive”because “I’ve got my whole life to live”and give back to others who are domestic violence survivors. I questioned, perhaps those strengths can become my purpose in helping others who are broken? Gloria’s words cut deep into my soul and I began to have hope for the first time in my life. I honestly didn’t think that I was a survivor but I wept when I heard “I Will Survive” because I knew that he was singing not just for me but for survivors everywhere.
As a child of a violent crime, I lived with a silent scream for thirty eight years. Growing up as the daughter of a pastor, the sexual abuse began when I was a little child. The “secret” of my grandfather’s incest while treating me to ice cream was unthinkable! He was a Deacon in his church and hid who he really was from everybody.
He entered my bath time, exposed himself to me and took me alone with him in his car where he asked for sexual favors. He molested me while treating me to ice cream. I found out later that he had also violated my cousins and my mother. She could not protect me & I was unable to tell. He told me not to. I was too little to understand anyway. I wanted nothing to do with him. At age eight, I decided never to get near him again. That stopped his abuse. I was thankful when he died at 101 years of age but sorry that I never got the courage to confront him with what he did to me.
Years later, I discovered the truth when I faced the minister who molested me as a preteen at a Bible camp. He was twenty seven years old, preaching by night and molesting the pastor’s daughters by day at various places at the camp. He singled me out as if picking the sweetest, ripest, freshest, undefiled oranges at the supermarket, fondling me underneath my bathing suit while he laughed and joked at the swimming hole. Those secrets shut me down with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder much like amnesia.
Because of the memory blocks, school became difficult. I was introverted, shy, had few close friends, panic attacks & nightmares. Like a deaf mute, I became silence about it for decades, desperately wanting to tell someone what was happening in my silent world of memories but unable to do so. Like the silent falling of the snowflakes, no words about it came out and no voice was heard. I screamed but no sound came out of my mouth. There were only tears late at night when no one but God was listening.
The pain of keeping these dirty secrets buried took a tremendous toll on my body. As I grew into pre-adolescence, I looked undernourished, suffered with anorexia and thought I was ugly. The signs are all there in my pictures I don’t like seeing. I didn’t go through puberty when my friends did. I was mortified when at age sixteen, I hadn’t started my monthly cycle. Not knowing why, my mother took me to the doctors for hormone shots to make my body begin doing something that should have normally happened by then. Who would have suspected it was because of the sexual abuse, least of all me?
As I grew into young adulthood, I felt as if a wrecking ball had come down on my head and shattered my life like a mirror into a million pieces all over the road of life. I have been trying to pick up the pieces of my life ever since. Just like all the king’s men in “Humpty Dumpty,” I had no idea how to put myself together again. Even though I knew I was created in the image of God, in my shattered state it was impossible to realize that image.
Unable to trust and afraid of men, I didn’t date much but at a small college where I worked, I met the love of my life. Looking into my husband’s eyes at age nineteen, saying our marriage vows on our wedding day, I meant them forever. He was my lover, my protector and my best friend. I trusted him fully. I never dreamed in a million years that I would personally be faced with an affair by my husband after only nine years of marriage. I walked in on him and his lover. I was devastated! Within a year it happened again with someone in our small church. Any form of infidelity requires us to be dishonest with ourselves, with others and with God.
He tragically lost his father to suicide two years into our marriage. I also believe pornography played a part in his betrayals. I never thought I could trust him again because my trust in people, particularly in men who abused me had shattered me personally as well as my marriage.
Years of emptiness and infertility led to adopting our first born son. I wept when I welcomed another mother’s baby into my arms and home. Five months later I found out I was pregnant with our second son. God answered our prayers, but neither of us knew how to deal with our losses. Seven years later I discovered that I was pregnant with our third son. He was a sweet, gentle baby but because I hadn’t grieved my losses, Postpartum Depression robbed me of the ability to cope. An abuse victim suffers in silence. By remaining silent, and with the fear of anyone discovering my “secret,” the effects of the abuse on my adult life were something far more devastating than the actual abuse!
Freedom came as I was willing to slowly come clean with my secrets. With the support of pastor’s from my childhood denomination, I courageously faced and confronted the clergy who long ago had violated me. He was in complete denial but I chose to forgive him. Seven weeks later I learned that he fell down the stairs and broke his back and died! Writing my memoir from the depths of my soul I was finally able to grieve all my many losses. Reading the chapter with my husband about our marriage betrayal in my book, “Listen to the Cry of the Child” brought closure and healing.
I chose to take the step of forgiveness on my journey to freedom as I went through the grieving process. My husband has too. The best years of our marriage was after writing my book when he acknowledged and owned his part in his marriage betrayals that devastated me! Because he was willing to look at what he did to me, himself and to God, we have finally come to fullness in a love for one another once again. We are very much still in love with one another and will celebrate forty eight years together May 1st, 2013.
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting because the pain is so deep and the scars remain. Fear chokes the soul just as weeds choke the most beautiful flowers in the garden. As this fear was beginning to be released, I realized that this the garden of my life could now bloom in the mission I am now on. We can’t change our past but as we begin to heal the wounded child within, the pain will lessen and can become ‘gifts in disguise’ and a purpose in my life. When fear comes uninvited, it needs to become an offering to God and to ourselves to work through that fear in order to free our souls to live!
I am giving back to other’s with broken wings who have not yet found their voices. I teach battered domestic violence survivors, speak in prisons to sex offenders and facilitate a trauma support group called Beauty Out of Ashes. I would never have fulfilled my purpose had I not been able to forgive! I have learned that to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner is you.
Now, when I hear Gloria Gaynor’s song, “I Will Survive”, I am reminded that I not only am a survivor but have moved from victim to victorious survivor. Yes, “it took all the strength I had not to fall apart and mend the pieces of my broken heart” but because “I grew strong and learned how to get along, I will survive!”
Story of Survival
When I was three weeks into my senior year of college, I was involved in a fatal car crash in which I was the only backseat survivor. My two sorority sisters sitting next to me died. When I woke up from my coma with two traumatic brain injuries, memory loss, paralysis, a brain bleed, and other physical injuries, I didn’t know what to do. I mean, when you are faced with losing everything mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially in an instant, how do you pick yourself up and carry on?
That’s when Gloria Gaynor’s song, “I Will Survive” came to mind and became a daily mantra. Her song empowered me to move forward, overcome adversity no matter what shape it took, and live life to the fullest. I could let my injuries defeat me, or I could not only survive, but thrive through them.
Gloria taught me through her song that my life wasn’t over… in fact, it had just begun.
Story of Survival
My four sisters and I were all victims of sexual abuse as children, and for my youngest sister who was disabled, as an adult as well by the hands of our father. His abuse spanned the course of 30 years before in 1999 he was arrested for abusing my disabled sister and in 2001 he was sentenced. Because of the statute of limitations, he only served three and a half years, but for my sisters and myself it was the defining moment in becoming survivors of his abuse rather than victims. To have him held accountable empowered us by him no longer controlling our lives. We survived.
In October of 1991, my eighteen-year old son, Brian, was robbed and shot to death a few blocks from our home in Phoenix. The ultimate betrayal I felt as child from my father was nothing in comparison to losing my child to violence. It could have destroyed my family. It changed our lives forever and we had to learn to accept a “new normal’ as we could never be the same. I became Chapter-Leader of the local Parents Of Murdered Children in 1993 and have dedicated my life to helping other families endure what life should never be about. I also am a member of our National POMC Board of Trustees and serve on several crime victim boards working to make a difference for all victims. It does not take away my pain but it does give meaning and purpose in my life.
While surviving was never easy, it was a choice, a choice my son’s killers could not take from me unless I allowed them to do so. They took too much from me when they killed my son, I would not allow them to take more. And again, we survived.
Story of Survival
My story is about having survived sexual abuse as a child from my teacher and then going on to develop PTSD and to marry not one, but two, controlling and ultimately abusive men.
In 1998, after having been married to Duncan―my second husband and a bully who’d been abusing me for the fourteen years we had been together – I finally got up the courage to tell him I wanted a divorce. Ten months after that, Duncan was diagnosed with stomach cancer―eight months later, he was gone. I hoped my problems would be resolved after Duncan’s death―but instead, I found that without his ranting, raving, screaming, threatening, and obscenities taking up space in my life, I had my own demons to face. I spent the next 4 years in Jungian analysis exploring my dreams, the intuitive messages I learned to trust in order to heal, and going through a roller coaster emotional journey―including romances, travel, and learning to support myself. I wrote a book, The Full Catastrophe: A Memoir, because I wanted to explore how a well educated, intelligent woman could end up with two abusive marriages. In the book I was brutally honest about what I went through but also about how I had to heal and finally resurrect my life.
Now I am teaching memoir writing for people with difficult stories to tell and volunteer my time with women survivors who are forming an advocacy and education group. I am 68 years old and it is never too late to heal from abuse and do good in the world.
Story of Survival
In 2006 I found myself married to a man I was petrified of. Despite the fact that “Scott” had threatened to kill me in the past, I stayed married to him. I was afraid to leave. I felt the only way to survive was to stay. I finally made a plan and left. After multiple attempts to get him to sign a separation agreement, I went back to the house where he was staying to pick up the final signed divorce papers. I found out too late that this was just a lure to get me to the house.
After he retreated to the bedroom to “get the papers’, he returned with a 40 caliber handgun and fired one shot which hit me in the chest. I fell to the floor but immediately got up and struggled to get out of the house. After frantically ringing the neighbor’s doorbell and getting no answer, I moved toward the street and fell to the ground in hopes a passing car would see me. Scott came out, dragged me back in and said, “Oh no, you’re not going to lay out here where someone will find you”.
I pushed the panic button on my car keychain and he ran to turn off the alarm. I got up and ran to the back of the house toward the sound of a tractor on the golf course. As I lay trying to hide behind the tractor I told this stranger, who was my only hope, that my ex-husband had shot me. As he began to relay details to the 911 operator, my ex-husband found us and forced this man to hang up the phone and leave.
He stood over me, mocked my Christianity, and promised to kill me and then himself. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer, I thought of my family and prayed for my life. Fortunately, 911 had enough information to send help and officers eventually apprehended Scott. I was airlifted to a trauma center 2 hours away and what had become my divorce mantra, “I Will Survive”, was now my life’s mantra. “Did he think I’d crumble, did he think I’d lay down and die? Oh no, not I”. After multiple surgeries and the support of family and friends, I have survived and thrived. I am now married to a wonderful man who loves me beyond anything I could have imagined.
Story of Survival
Thank you Gloria Gaynor for your song from years past “I Will Survive”. That was my motto when I was battling cancer the 1st time.
I had a button & when you pressed it – it played your song. I was in the hospital for 3 mos. (I was teaching middle school @ the time.) However, months later the cancer came back & I had to go to Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL for a bone marrow, stem cells, transplant. I took that round button that played, “I Will Survive “. I sang it ALL the time as I do when I hear it on the radio. It was and still is one of the favorites. Apr. 16, 2017 will be my 7 year of my transplant. God Bless!
For those that may have or had cancer YOU MUST have a POSITIVE ATTITUDE!
That’s the key “To Survive”.
Story of Survival
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and underwent a double mastectomy, then a few years later was diagnosed with uterine cervical cancer and underwent a hysterectomy.
Then in 2013 I was diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, 200 cases in the world. Doctors were baffled, my treatment consisted of open heart surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. To this day, I regularly go for pet scans and live my life to the fullest. I was just blessed with my 3rd grandchild with another on the way. #iwillsurvive
Story of Survival
I was young and impressionable gal who had just moved to NYC at the age of 23. I was an anxious and nervous gal. As soon as I arrived, a doctor I was seeing as a patient, introduced me to Xanax. I was put on a half of milligram for depression and anxiety. It helped me sleep. And so I did. It made me feel good, or a good that I thought one should feel. What was good anyway?
Xanax had recently been introduced to the country. I was one of its first addicts, because that is what I became. By two years I was on a milligram and by 21 years I was up to almost seven milligrams at night.
I went to a psychiatric ward in NYC to get off of it in December 2015. Why? Because I felt numb. I felt I was living in a medicated mask. I was a robot and even though that may be the future in this world, I could no longer be that robot. The psych ward got me down off two milligrams and for the rest, I was on my own.
So last year, I started shaving down small increments of Xanax every Friday night. Sure, I didn’t sleep. But every Saturday morning, I had come that just much more of of Xanax. I wanted to be a better daughter, sister and aunt. I wanted to survive. I wanted to live. I wanted my tracks that I walked to matter and to leave a good impression.
When Thanksgiving came in 2016, my family gathered and we were suppose to go around the table and say what we had given up for a month. When it was my turn, I handed over my bottle of Xanax. I was done. I did it. It wasn’t about a month. It was about a year and half a lifetime. After over some 20 years, I gave up Xanax. And I feel good. I feel real good because I feel emotions. Gloria Gaynor sings my ultimate anthem and her words pushed me on during that year. I looked to her words to gain strength, to sing me forward. And I’m still here. I’m a better me. And I smile, a real smile full of gratitude for every day that I breathe.
Story of Survival
I served in Baghdad for a year back in 2005. I started going for counseling after getting tired of drinking, breaking down, fighting, and generally feeling like I wanted to strangle someone at all times.
That was 2008. I took the counseling seriously because I had a new boyfriend that I didn’t want to subject to my breakdowns.
I was happy with the care I was getting for the most part. I even had enough energy to start medical school. By that time I had my PTSD under control through anti-depressants, avoiding certain topics on TV and radio, limiting my drinking and going to a pet store when I sensed a breakdown instead of a bar.
I’m one of the lucky ones. My application for disability process only took two years. I don’t have permanent deformities. I’ve been able to overcome the stress of my time in the service, but its a continued work in progress. #Iwillsurvive
Story of Survival
I was married and I was so unhappy. My husband of 2 years was violent and every day things just got worse. I coped day by day by basically ignoring him. If he started yelling at meI would get in the car and go for a drive or visit friends just to get away from him. When I got back home he would be sweet for a while then he would be back to the old nasty person.
When we were together he was very strict about who I went out with. I couldn’t easily go out with other people, girls or guys – I had no life. I felt I was a prisoner in my own home. I felt like a dog on a chain and I couldn’t get off it.
On top of it all, he even hid money from me. He spent money on what he wanted but I wasn’t allowed, and it led to us always being broke. I finally decided I had enough. I had to tell my husband to leave. I had my parents and one of my brothers with me when I told him to go. It was a difficult time for me and my family was also hurting watching me go through all this, but in the end we got through it. You just have to stick together. My coworkers and friends have been so fantastic and supportive, they have all been there for me. With this support I feel as if I have no worries now.
Story of Survival
My name is Sherry and I am 34 years-old, a native of Naperville, Illinois. This is my story of how I received a life altering diagnosis and overcame all odds by surviving brain cancer – all while becoming a wife and new mother.
I always maintained a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and exercise. Then, in 2011, I had a grand mal seizure. My parents were in town visiting and immediately called 911 for assistance. The doctors did a CAT scan and found a brain tumor on the right side of my brain.
Other family members of mine have been affected by brain tumors in the past, so I was well aware of the severity of the disease and the extensive medical treatment that I would soon be facing.
I soon met with a highly regarded neurosurgeon who performed a craniotomy and removed a tumor on the right side of my brain. My tumor was almost seven centimeters in diameter. I stayed in the hospital for seven days after the surgery was performed and then began a rehab program that lasted about three weeks.
Shortly thereafter, I was referred to medical and radiation oncologists for chemotherapy and radiation treatment. My doctors sent my pathology reports to UCLA Medical Center for further review. Upon receiving the results, it was determined I had a grade-4 glioblastoma tumor (GMB). Glioblastoma tumors spread quickly and are the most invasive type of brain tumor. Due to the severity of a GBM-4, we needed to act immediately to keep the tumor from spreading.
I immediately started a chemotherapy plan and radiation treatments that lasted approximately six weeks. In June 2013, my treatments ended and I was in remission, but I continue to see my doctors for periodic brain scans and follow-up appointments every three to six months.
After experiencing such a life altering experience, I quit my job and decided to focus on my two passions, fitness and nutrition. Currently, I teach yoga at various studios, corporations and gyms throughout Chicago.
I am also very happy to say that after going through this battle, I met the love of my life and married my husband in the fall of 2015. On October 12, 2016, I delivered a beautiful and healthy baby boy named Grant. I call Grant my miracle baby because after weeks of radiation and enduring years of chemotherapy treatments, I didn’t think having a baby would ever be possible.
I am extremely grateful for the excellent care I received from my various medical professions and for my family and friends who showed me so much love during this difficult time in my life. They worked so hard to help me beat this disease!
Story of Survival
My name is Suzanne March. I am a married mother of a 7 year old and I live in Chicago. I am 35 years old and have had perfect health until this past year.
On May 4th, 2016 I was out for a walk with my one of my sons when my heart stopped. My amazing and courageous son called 911 and performed CPR until help arrived. The medics shocked my heart three times before they got a heartbeat. A week later I had a defibrillator implanted and it has saved my life two times already. As I have learned about heart disease and sudden cardiac arrest, I am aware of how lucky I am to be a survivor.
It has been an emotional journey for my whole family as we learn to live with this new “normal.” I am immensely grateful to be alive. I am often asked how my heart event has changed my life. I know that this is not the expected answer, but I’m not sure that nearly dying changed my life in a big way. I’m still sort of winging it, trying to be grateful every day, trying to be here, now, trying to live a life of meaning and joy – but knowing I survived gives me the courage to move past that event in my life.
Story of Survival
My name is Meredith Fell. In 2003 I discovered a very large lump. The doctor diagnosed me with stage 3 breast cancer.
I was devastated at the news. I was told that I would need a mastectomy. I decided to have the implant done at the same time, which also involved removing 23 lymph nodes. I was only 26 years old. Now, 14 years later, I can truly say I have been cancer-free all this time. I love every day and thank God for making me a full-fledged survivor.
Story of Survival
My survival story pertains to my first marriage. After being married for a little over a year, I came home from a meeting one night and my husband was at the kitchen table working on his laptop.
He was in good spirits and indicated he was planning to go out to watch football with friends from work. I kissed him goodbye when he left and went to bed shortly after. At 2 a.m. the phone rang. It was my husband, telling me he had been arrested. He was charged with four felonies, including aggravated assault and arson! He convinced me it was a misunderstanding. I endured the humiliation of his arrest being on television and the radio.
I eventually told him I wanted a divorce. I later learned that he had been cheating on me the entire time. I was so depressed. Finally, I woke up one day and discovered that I actually had it pretty good. I picked myself up and put away the wine glasses. I went to Paris for the first time; somewhere I’ve always dreamed of. I bought my own house,- painted and decorated it myself. I decided to start dating again. I met a man in a cafe and he proposed 6 months later. We have one son and another child on the way. I am truly convinced that everything happens for a reason, and am beyond happy to have survived my first failure of a marriage.
Story of Survival
I was starting my third year of college. My roommate and I had decided to drive about an hour away to visit a friend. We had a fun weekend of barbecuing, four-wheeling and camp fires. On our way home after a few days, I was in the back of a pick-up truck, seated on a half bench while my roommate and friend were in the front seat. It was the one time in my life I didn’t have my seatbelt on as I was holding a box of leftover pizza and was struggling to get my belt on, as the system had locked.
The driver, my roommate, was going faster than he should have been, lost control and went up an incline. We hit a tree and rolled, causing him to be thrown out through the passenger window and I was thrown into the front of the truck. My roommate pulled me out of the truck quickly, but I don’t recall much except for fishtailing and then being pulled from the wreckage. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital with my parents by my side. The doctors determined I had a broken collarbone, cracked rib and a burst fracture of the T4, T5, L1 and L2 vertebrates in my spine. I required surgery and a back brace to be worn for 3 months following surgery.
It was a tough recovery, with a lot of sleepless nights. I missed an entire semester at school. I had missed so much that I was delayed a semester graduating and in turn being delayed 1 year into my post-grad program. While it sounds cliché, I have learned not to take life for granted. I have learned that while accidents do happen, it is so important to wear your seatbelt and to not drive recklessly and endanger those around you. I also learned that I have an extremely wonderful family and friends who were an amazing support system. I still have back pain every day but overcome this by remembering how lucky I am to be alive.
Story of Survival
My story begins at age 6. I was extremely underweight for my height and age; however, my grandfather said I had “arms like ham” and was “a little chubby.” I spent my entire childhood surrounded by weight stigma — whether it was from my grandfather constantly telling me to “go on a diet” or comparing my own body to my friends’.
At 11, I went on what I described as a “very strict diet.” I had no clue what anorexia was. I thought it was when someone literally never ate anything due to some underlying emotional problem, when, in reality, it’s a disease that manifests in the mind; an absolute fear of weight gain. It does not have a specific physical appearance. It does not pick particular races or genders. It just is.
My “diet” left me with a failing liver, a problematic heart, hair loss, and osteopenia. I went into treatment at age 13 for anorexia and fully came to terms with my disease, and began to believe that I did not choose this. Anorexia was like a light switch that lived inside my brain, turned off for most of my life. The stigma surrounding my weight is what turned it on. For me, I will never turn my anorexia off. It’s always going to be a struggle. I can, however, dim the lights. Now, at 16, I remain recovered without relapse. Although every day I see girls in magazines and in person with tiny waists, I am fighting. I am alive. I almost lost my life, and my life is much more important than my weight.