15 Women Who Embody The Meaning of Strength

The IHadCancer community is filled with women from all over the world, of all ages, races, cancer types and experiences. Every single day, our team is in awe of the amazing stories that we come across and that you choose to share with us. We know that no cancer journey is the same, but each one of these women represents thousands who have walked this path before them, and thousands who will walk it after. By sharing their stories, these 15 women have shared their strength with thousands of other survivors, fighters and caregivers around the world. THANK YOU, to everyone who takes the time to do so.

(PS all the awesome men in our community - we love you too and we'll be giving you your own shout out sometime soon, too :) )

Michelle, Hodgkin's Lymphoma Survivor

"March 1st is a day I will never forget. On March 1st 2013 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. On March 1st 2017 I started my first day has an Oncology Nurse. Life works in mysterious ways. When I was 21 I didn't know what I was meant to do in life what was my calling....After being in and out of the hospital I knew I wanted to pursue a nursing career. As an oncology nurse I wanna make a difference in my patients lives I wanna inspire people. I hope my story can make a change in someone life even if it's the smallest change I'll be happy.This is my calling. To the nurses who took care of me thank you for inspiring me."

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CJ, Triple Negative Breast Cancer Fighter

"So funny story. The other day I was at the dentists office, as I was getting my cleaning she was talking about cancer. She mentioned how you never really hear about black women getting cancer. And the more I looked around on social media and thought about it, I realized she was kind of right. It's somewhat rare. In the black community it's almost rare to hear of health issues because that is when the need for privacy kicks in. I noticed that about myself. I didn't want anyone putting it out there, I hated the question "how are you feeling?". I just wanted to be done, and pretend like it never happened. I expected my loved ones to do the same. I didn't want to give it anymore life than it already had. I remember I got so pissed when breast cancer awareness month came around and people expected me to celebrate. I thought, "why?! Why would I celebrate something that had NO RIGHT to invade my body in the first place?" I resented the idea of acknowledging this moment in my life. Then I looked at my scar one day. The scar that every surgeon has asked me why the general surgeon did that. The scar that I will never be able to hide. And I realized no matter what I do, this will forever be apart of me and I will forever have to answer the question of, "what happened?". You see Cancer doesn't discriminate in any aspect. It doesn't matter your age, weight, height or race. It will come for you when it wants and will overpower you if you let it. Don't succumb. No matter how tired you are, don't give in. And definitely don't fear it, look it in its face and tell it I DONT HAVE TIME FOR THIS SHIT. I WILL NOT SLOW DOWN. NOT TODAY, NOT EVER."

Donna, Colon Cancer Survivor

"Defining Moments are those moments when something is so overwhelming physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally that it is forever imprinted in your mind. Your wedding day, birth of your children, losing a parent, letting go of a fear, forgiveness, accepting yourself and all your flaws, imperfections but also learning to love them, the first time you see your grandchildren or hear their sweet laughter. The priceless gift of a true friend and to feel love that is unconditional. They can be joyful times as well as times of great pain. And for a Cancer Patient it is also hearing " You are cancer free" To hear those words you have cancer is terrifying! What if I die? I could die! I've got so much left to do! When the shock finally wears off and you wrap your mind around what's ahead of you, you really start to bargain with God. You try not to focus on statistics and All the stories you will hear about someone's cousins uncle had cancer and they are now dead, try this, eat this, don't eat that, chemo will only give you five years and the people who will say to you, "how are you? But say it with such pity in their voice that you just want to scream! I get it Cancer is scary! And being around someone with cancer makes people face their own mortality. The reality yes we are all going to die, and yes cancer kills so many. But We also SURVIVE! We Can SURVIVE!"

Smiles and Cocktails, Lymphoma Survivor

"I wanna throwback to 11 months ago during one of my chemo cycles when I couldn't sit still. Loll... Im just a mover ya know. A couple of days after my dad woke up from his open heart bypass surgery, he was getting out of bed walking around. I'm definitely my dad's daughter. The nurses of course were freaking out like nooooo call us!!! I am praying for every cancer patient and cancer survivors to be cancer free now and forever, to have the strength, faith, and optimism to live life to the fullest every single day, and to serve as an inspiration to anyone going through adversity and challenges at any point in life."

View more photos here.

Charlene, Uterine Cancer Survivor

"So today was a significant day... first time in 19 months I have been able to visit the hairdresser. Was so wonderful to cut and colour again. Here is a picture of me exactly a year ago and the "NEW" look. It is a #reminder that there is #hope and to never give up and most of all #CHERISH each new day!"

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Chey, Ovarian Cancer Fighter

"This is hard for me to post...Left- Before we knew I had cancer. I was a solid 130lbs and 15% body fat. Also had a nice little booty growing back there. Right- Taken yesterday. Stage 4 Low Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer. After almost 14 days in the hospital, a poop bag, and a major surgery; I stand at 105lbs. That's way to small for me. I'm 5"5. I lost everything. Cancer has taken so much from me. The body I worked so hard for 2 years to get, the ability to have and carry my own child, my hair, and so much more, but one thing for sure is that cancer has not taken my fight and faith.I will never stop fighting. I will never lose my faith. I will never let cancer win. Today has been a rough day for me mentally, but that's okay. I know tomorrow will be much better and I'm thankful to be alive and to see another day. I know GOD is up there working and I know he will give me the strength to fight, the light to see in the darkness, and will lay his healing hands on me. This is the toughest battle I have and will ever face, but I know I can do it. The hardest part of all this is my body change. I have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror but I'm learning to love myself again and I know this is only temporary. Once I get the clear light to workout, I'll be in the gym banging those weights"

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Jessica, Endometrial Cancer Fighter and 2x Lymphoma Survivor

"Fourth chemo down and almost at the home stretch! I've found that no matter what happens in life, you can always find reasons to smile-particularly if pink hair is involved."

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Ann Marie, Breast Cancer Survivor and her best friend, Caregiver

"This picture best describes our relationship. One of us strangling the other out of nothing but love. We have laughed with each other, screamed at each other, screamed at others with each other, laughed until we peed, cried until we thought we could not possibly have anything left only to find there is more tears and sat and said nothing (well mostly you I do not shut up) and are loyal to each other to a fault. I am happy you were born today M C because without you who would find #dragonflies and #butterflies with me. I love you and no matter what you do to me while I had #cancer or #MS. Here's to another year of your old ass being older than me but my body being older than you!

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Astrickland, Hodgkin's Lymphoma Survivor

"I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma may of 2014 at the age off 22, I was in remission by November 2014. June of 2015 the cancer came back. July of 2015 all of my hair fell out and now a little over a year later I have a head full of hair! "

Danielle, Thyroid Cancer Fighter

"My journey has been by far the hardest thing I have even been through. The one thing that keeps me going is writing. Helping others makes me feel so much better. I am always spreading awareness about Thyroid Cancer. I am very proactive with social media and so many amazing organizations. I am so tired of hearing that Thyroid Cancer is the GOOD CANCER!! NO CANCER is GOOD! I will make sure our voices are heard!!! I promise you that."

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Felicia, Breast Cancer Survivor

"CHEMO FINITO very excited to be getting my final chemo on. It took my hair, my lashes and might take my nails but not my spirit. Finishing chemo is like ending the first leg of this journey. I have several surgeries ahead (first one being on feb 26), possible radiation and just a long road ahead, but I can do it. There is no way I could have made it through this part without the love and support of so many. Thank you, thank you THANK YOU to everyone who has been there for me, loved, listened, hugged, supported prayed for me and my family. Many of you carried me when I didn't think I could do it on my own. I love and appreciate you all!!"

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Minerva, Leukemia Survivor

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"I was in such a great mood today going to my doctor's appt even though I knew they were going to draw blood & do a bone marrow biopsy! But I felt great... It HURT like HELL though... But the worst part is results day and that my friends.... Is NOT today so all smiles here! "

Nalie, Metastatic Breast Cancer Fighter
"Back at the hospital for a Pelvic Ultrasound that I demanded for... Yup that's right! I ASKED my Oncologist for one. Why? Because after almost 2 years on tamoxifen... I've been experiencing excruciating period pain. I was afraid it had to do w/ my uterus. Results: Very reassuring! Details to come in the blog at Nalie.ca. Life lesson 0102: Be your own health advocate! No one knows your body more than you!"

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Ana-Alecia, Uterine Rhabdomyosarcoma Angel

"What I've learned the most over the last 11 months is a lot about my will and fight, asking the tough questions, refraining from googling statistics, appreciating and leaning on those who have been there for me, and ALWAYS celebrating and making the most of the high energy/good days. It hasn't been easy. I choose to remain faithful and trust my doctors. I choose my attitude. I chose to wake up everyday and find a reason to smile. (My number one reason being our 3 year old daughter). I've learned things happen for a reason...I hope to continue to motivate and inspire others, make people laugh or smile, even at the expense of my bad dance moves."

Sadly, Ana passed away in January this year. She inspired our community and then the world with her viral "Juju On That Chemo" video that was soon picked up by the Ellen Show. The positive outlook and love she had made a lasting impact on our community. Thank you Ana. Rest In Peace.

View more photos here.

Nadeen, Uterine Cancer Survivor

"The memory of (my diagnosis) caused me pain and anxiety the last couple weeks. All the memories and "feels" are still SO fresh a year later. I didn’t really expect that. I’m typically a positive person. But, we are truly changed by this, this cancer. I suppose I will realize just how much as time goes on.I spoke with my radiologist about it when I met with him the other day for a follow up appointment. He said it is not uncommon. A PTSD. Trauma. “You experienced quite a trauma”. Hell ya I did. Me, my family, my friends...But talking to him, realizing I am not alone in these types of painful memories, made me more comfortable in where I am now. and that is, not alone! I share this for you, a fighter or survivor, so you know, you are not alone. Life after cancer, MAKING plans, moving on, seeing so many things differently, not taking the crap you may have before cancer, helping others with words and encouragement and great big hugs or *hugs*. I’m stronger than I ever imagined I could be."

View more here.

Do you know an inspirational woman kicking cancer's ass? Share their story in the comments below!