Surviving and Thriving
At age 32 I got a heartbreaking diagnosis. Breast cancer. But at the same time the prognosis was good. Very good. After surgery, my chances of being cancer free were 99%. So, despite the emotional hardship of the surgery (mastectomy and reconstruction) and having to stay on medication for the rest of my life, things were looking good. Until they didn’t.
My name is Angela Baker, but you can call me Jersey. And this is my Kintsugi Story
Years passed, medications, tests… but the results were always clean until they were not. In 2007 I felt a lump on the outside of my breast, but it was not painful in any way, and the doctors had told me that I was cancer free, so I ignored the lump. But several months later when I met my surgeon, he decided that the best course of action would be to remove it.
When the report came back after surgery, the news was not good. That seemingly simple bump was cancerous. But then, I did get good news after all, doctors said that it had been completely removed and I was again cancer free.
I returned to my regular job and to my regular life. I tried to live each day to the fullest and understanding that things could have turned out much differently and I was indeed blessed. I knew I would have be careful and take good care of my health but I was not going to let cancer define me, I am much more than a cancer survivor.
When my optimism masks reality
It was now 2008 and I was under the weather. I had cold symptoms and I was having a difficulty breathing. As I was not getting better, I decided to go to my local urgent care. There they took an xray of my lungs and gave me antibiotics. Within 24 hours the antibiotics kicked in and I immediately started feeling better. But the next day I received a message from the Urgent care asking me to call them back. I assumed that they were calling to touch base with me and ask me if I was feeling better. Since I was, I ignored the call. The day after that there was another call on my voice mail asking me to call them back and from their voices, I understood that I better call them. They were worried as they had seen something on the xray and wanted me to get it checked out.
Return to the Oncologist
Stage 4 Metastatic Breast cancer. It is not possible, I thought! I had had such good diagnosis prior. I am supposed to be cancer free.
Unfortunately, the cancer had spread to my chest wall, to my spine and to my brain I take a medication monthly, and also shots. But the reality is that my cancer is terminal.
At the time I was working full time, I decided it was time to leave my job and focus on my health. But I am not the type of person to sit and do nothing. I decided I would do charity work. I would help people, I put a post and made myself available to help another cancer patient. I would help them go to their doctor’s appointment, or do errands, in particular I was driving a family member and during this time I started handing out business cards and giving to cancer institutes at all the stops I was making anyway. The calls started to come in and patients were telling me that they couldn’t pay and I was more than happy to help them free of charge. I knew what they were going through and I knew I could help them, advocate for them and explain to them the process of what they were going through because I had been going through it myself.
From helping others to NYFW
A friend of mine mentioned to me that there is a local fashion designer, who runs a non-profit fashion line, who was looking for models who were cancer survivors, cancer patients... She was using her clothing line to make a point. She depicts that there are all kinds of beauty and all kinds of people should be portrayed on the cat walk. Next thing I knew I was walking and presenting the line at NYFW.
My son who learned about the fashion line told me: “Mom! if she can have a fashion line that is a non-profit, so can you”.
In 2015 I started my non-profit organization called Vida, for life. I am the president and I personally drive patients to surgery and errands. All these people are uninsured.
I feel with so much knowledge that I accrued with all my surgeries, treatments, I am the right support for people who are navigating the system.
If you search online, you will see Project cancerland fashion shows. All the women walking the cat walk are cancer survivors. This year I walked my 3rd NYFW. It makes me feel good to support the organization, to bring awareness to Metastatic cancer, knowing that women will get checked as they are impacted by our show makes me feel good. It is important to show the world that we are living and we are more than then our prognosis.
Living life to the fullest
Generally speaking, I feel good, I feel blessed for every waking hour, for every day. I may get tired and I may be achy, and I know I can’t do all the things that I used to do, but at the same time I am leading a life filled with joy, filled with goodness. I know that I can inspire and empower other women with my story and with my acts of kindness. I hope my legacy will be that of being of service, knowing encouraging others to do good for human kind, being a light onto the world. I help people, I go to conferences, I met amazing individuals, I fill my days with good things and good thoughts.
Today I am 48 years old. I live with Metastatic Breast Cancer. I tell you to Live to the fullest because you do not know what tomorrow will bring
Being of Service is the Best Medicine
People ask me how I meet the ladies I interview. I like to answer that God brings them to me. Each one appearing into my life at the perfect time, with incredible stories of resilience, strength and empowerment.
At a fashion show I did in 2018, I met Woody and Amy Michleb. Amy was our Kintsugi interviewee in March (check her amazing story if you have not read it yet). Woody and Amy are amazing hair designers and I introduced a friend of mine, Adina, who is a wig stylist in Baltimore. Adina soon started selling Style the Runway products, developed by Woody and Amy and she fell in love with their talent and kindness as I did. So, Adina decided to volunteer and travel to NY to help Woody and Amy when they were doing hair for NYFW. One of the shows they did the hair for was for Project Cancerland and there Adina met Angela. Whom immediately introduced me because she knew I would absolutely love to meet and talk to Angela, which I did. I share all of that with you because I want to make a point. More on that at the end of this blog post.
Angela like all the ladies I interview, detailed her struggles with poise, and she conveyed answered all the questions I had even before I asked… Years ago, even before I started this project, I gave a lecture about happiness. I came to many conclusions and Angela confirmed so many of my findings.
To get in touch with Angela:
Angel In Disguise Inc. http://www.angelindisguiseinc.
Facebook: Angel in Disguise Inc.
If you have a story you would like to share please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please leave your loving comment on this page! You will make Angela very happy to hear that her story touched your heart!
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