Amy Held

2022 was a year of trials I never thought I would have to face. After returning home from vacation, I noticed a lump on my right breast. I knew it wasn’t there the year before, so I immediately scheduled a mammogram. The year had already been challenging after going through a divorce. It was a month later that I found out I had Stage II B, Triple Negative, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

The day you hear the words “You have Cancer” changes your life forever!  My mom and son Charlie were there with me in person and my daughter Taylor and Son-in-law Chance were there via Facetime. I was grateful to have them there because once I heard those words, it was impossible to hear anything else. Those words make it impossible to focus or concentrate and the mind cannot process what is happening. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t feel, and I was completely numb in that moment. The only thing I could think of was God has a bad sense of humor.  A divorce, moving, a new life and NOW CANCER!  They say God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, right? So I had NO choice but to fight.  I had already put my family through so much, and I didn’t want them to worry about this, too.   I knew I had to hold it together to help energize everyone around me.  If I fell apart now everyone would worry and I didn’t want to be a burden any longer.  I had my faith, but I also had my sister who struggles with an extremely rare genetic disease to remind me that if she could endure a lifetime of pain and struggles, I too could endure this season of my life.  She is and was my inspiration and is the bravest person I know!

The next month things happened so quickly. There were lots of tests and scans and a port was installed as I started treatment. I believe that month was the time period in which I faced more confusion, emotions, and fears than I have in my entire life.  Even though I had a positive attitude and was driven to fight, I was terrified! I was afraid of losing the momentum I had gained starting a new life and developing new friendships.  I was afraid of missing out on activities and what life would look like as a cancer patient. To be honest, my biggest fear was losing my hair.  I know that sounds so vain, but it’s part of our identity. However, I knew, I wanted to live as if I didn’t have cancer.  I stayed active, I worked, and I didn’t miss a beat with my family and friends, I definitely lived my life!

The journey was rough, 12 weeks of one regiment, eight weeks of the second round (which included the “red devil” and it was quite the Devil.  During my first treatment, I had a severe reaction to Taxol.  I was so frightened and knew it was going to be harder than anticipated.   I had several setbacks throughout the course of treatment. I had another reaction to a different drug called Amend and was hospitalized twice. The first time it was for an infection and the second time they thought I was having a stroke, but it turned out to be Bell’s Palsy.  This was one week before my big surgery, and for a moment I thought we were going to have to postpone the surgery.  The straw that seemed to break the camel’s back was when after all the treatment we discovered my body didn’t react to the chemotherapy like they had hoped. Not only that but there were questions concerning the tumor size.  They didn’t know if it had grown or if the original scan didn’t capture the full image.  The talks we had of having a lumpectomy ended up being talks about a mastectomy.  Due to the size and aggressiveness of the cancer, the doctors felt this would be the best route.  I knew I didn’t want to ever go through this again and made the decision to do a double mastectomy.   Finally, after surgery I caught a break!! After all my lymph nodes came back negative the radiologist didn’t see the need to continue radiation and felt it was better, I started on six months of Xeloda chemo pills.

I tried to be real, raw, and lighthearted during this journey. I shared so many special, vulnerable, and intimate moments with family and friends.  When I started losing my hair,  my family was with me and my son helped shave my head. It was extremely emotional—we laughed, we cried, and I faced this ugly disease head on. I wanted everyone to feel comfortable around me, so I was transparent about each stage in the process and the side-effects.  I even had a hair growth competition with a Chia Pet! Yes, a Chia Pet.  I wanted to see whose hair grew faster.  It was these moments that got me through. 

Cancer strips everything from you, your pride, confidence, strength, self-esteem, emotions, happiness, your dignity, and your control. It takes so much away from you but at the same time it builds you right back up! Fighting for your life brings more confidence in the fact that you did it, you survived, you made it through the toughest time of your life. With that confidence you learn to be happy again and you take pride in the person you are who got you through it. Your self-esteem comes back as your side-effects subside, your hair grows back, and you learn to appreciate your body in a whole new way.

True strength comes from within oneself. It is not physical strength but strength of character that comes from deep within your soul. It turns out that God knew exactly what he was doing. He knew I needed my family, my friends, lots of love and support, and he gave me that and MORE! The outpour of love, support, kindness, and generosity from everyone around me has changed my life forever.

I hope my story inspires you to FIGHT…. Because YOU are special, and you are worth it!


Cassandra Viers

My name is Cassandra Viers, I am a 33 year old mom and wife from Lee’s Summit Missouri. My cancer journey started in December of 2022. I found a large lump in my left breast. I saw my doctor who said “it’s probably nothing but let’s get it checked out, you are young and healthy so odds are low it’s anything to worry about”.

Then after mammogram and ultrasound a radiologist said again “it’s probably nothing but let’s get it biopsied”, then came a surgeon who told me the same thing. She removed a large lump on a Friday and by Monday afternoon she called and told me that I had stage 2 grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I have never been more shocked in my life, my world shattered around me. A week later I had a plan, a team, I had broken the news to everyone close to me and we left for Disney world with our best friends. A week after we got back I got started on 16 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy and in December of 2023 finished up 25 rounds of radiation. What I learned and want people to know is, there can be so much life lived throughout a cancer diagnosis and it’s okay to lean on those close to you. I was overwhelmed with support from our family and friends, I had people that I hadn’t talked to in years dropping off meals at our door. I had entire churches and offices praying for me, I had friends who threw parties for me and kept me sane and positive throughout, my mom moved 3 states to be closer to me and so so much more. I recognize how lucky I am to have had such support and resources to help me through, and know that not everyone who receives a cancer diagnosis is as fortunate. That is why I am so excited to be a part of this organization and raise funds for the ones in Kansas City who need it the most.

Lia Diamantis

On Labor Day 2022, I just wrapped up a spin class and noticed some of my right breast seemed inflamed and harder than the surrounding tissue. Thankfully I am very in-tune with my body, and I knew something was unusually wrong. Since there was no lump and my inflammation went away with antibiotics, I was assured it was just an infection, but I pushed for the proof.

As comforting as it was that it was “probably nothing” and “I am too young”, not having a definitive proof was not a good enough answer for me. About a week later I was diagnosed with two TNBC invasive ductal carcinomas, which put me at stage 1B at just 31 years old (negative for all tested genetics).

The gravity of this diagnosis was absorbed in the collective stillness of my family as my sweet and strong mother, with composed gentleness, delivered the diagnosis. In that moment, time seemed suspended, and my emotional response retreated into a profound shock. Swiftly, my family assumed strategic roles, orchestrating tasks ranging from familial responsibilities to the logistics of medical records and information on cold capping. Their concerted efforts became an invaluable support system, allowing me to navigate the complexities of the situation. This shook my family to the core. With two sisters, each taking their own prophylactic journey to make sure they never get the disease at a young age, are doing whatever necessary to make sure they are one step ahead.

Following a challenging course of 16 chemotherapy sessions, coupled with the innovative approach of cold capping, I am gratified to report a pathological complete response. My gratitude extends beyond medical achievements to a profound acknowledgment of divine grace. In the aftermath of this ordeal, I stand, not only as a survivor but as a testament to the collective strength of my family and the unwavering support of a broader community. All credit is given to God, and my appreciation for those who stood by me remains boundless.