Friday, October 26, 2012

A Fearless Hero: Caitlyn's Story

The mere mention of cancer strikes fear into the hearts of most within earshot.  An initial fear almost paralyzing; one driven by the unknown and the mystery that swaths what we truly know about the disease. The human condition knows much of fear.  We battle it on a daily basis, especially as we navigate a world racked with heart wrenching pain, suffering and sorrow - circumstances we can't explain and horrors we can't begin to understand.  There is a wrinkle in the fabric of fear, though; a flaw or "point of fatigue" where it's strength is easily hope. Powerful, mighty, enduring hope.

Hope is the true antidote to fear. Or the light that rips through frail fibers revealing fear's unnecessary presence in our lives. It fuels joy and builds faith.  God's promise in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) illuminates the evidence of hope in our lives: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In the presence of cancer, hope should be wielded like a sword, and I know one such warrior who understands precisely how to swing it.

She stands a smidge over five feet tall, but has the countenance of a seven-foot-tall general at the front lines of battle…as well as the delicate grace of woman who truly understands the beauty and frailty of life.  Her name is Caitlyn, and she is a beautiful young mother to three bouncing boys, as well as a wife to her loving husband, a musician and former English teacher, devoted daughter, caring friend, and Stage IV cancer patient.  Caitlyn was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at the age of 27, after watching her mother battle the disease and subsequent metastasis to other areas of her body for much of her young life.  She discovered a lump in her breast while breastfeeding her third son, and was shortly thereafter wrestling with a doctor’s orders to wean her newborn son and begin aggressive treatment immediately.

She knew all too well the ravages of cancer while witnessing her mother’s decade-long battle with breast and ovarian cancer.  Caitlyn’s mother, Christina, was a pillar in our small community; a woman admired and respected by all blessed to know her…and especially to hear her angelic voice.  She was teeming with musical gifts!  Christina’s unwavering commitment to her family, church and community earned her a reputation as a revered performer, teacher, mentor and leader…all the more solidified as she continued to heartily serve throughout her battle with cancer.  With or without her gleaming blonde locks, Christina’s inner and outer beauty was a beacon of God’s love.  Those in her presence couldn’t help but feel His powerful grip on her life.  She demonstrated true faith: an unshakable acknowledgement that God always gives us a plan and a purpose, even if we don’t fully understand the trials and tribulations that accompany.  Christina lived her life’s purpose and honored her Savior with verve and vivacity, shaking the ground with her ability to crush fear with hope.  She proudly wore a necklace emblazoned with the word “fearlessness” on it, as a badge of honor knowing full well that she embodied what it meant to face cancer without fear.

Caitlyn’s life-course was altered immeasurably in just 14 short days.  One week after her diagnosis, Caitlyn’s mother passed away.  The following week, Caitlyn underwent a double mastectomy and began chemotherapy.  Stories like this make any and every heart grieve; for no one person should ever bare the weight of so much suffering and sorrow…and yet Caitlyn was left to endure it, alongside her equally heartbroken family.

But Caitlyn’s story does in no means end there.  A new chapter began when she chose to carry her mother’s torch by leading her church’s worship service two days after her mother’s passing – a powerful and profound acknowledgement that One had already endured a similarly horrendous heavy weight of suffering and sorrow for all of humanity, and given her hope and future.  Her faith in Jesus Christ has given her the strength to carry on her mother’s legacy: to fight cancer with every ounce of hope in her being, and demonstrate to others – especially those three precious little boys of hers – that fear has no place in her cancer treatment.  In fact, Caitlyn now wears her mother’s “fearlessness” necklace as a constant reminder of her choice to face cancer without fear.  She is a fearless hero, navigating the murky, muddy waters of surgery, treatment and everyday life with an astonishingly bright beam of hope to light the way.

Let us strive, beyond our human weakness and proclivity for fear, to follow Caitlyn and Christina’s example and live a life overflowing with hope.  In supporting our fearless heroes, we add wattage to their luminosity…a brilliance we desperately need in a world too often stricken with fear.

In honor of Caitlyn, Christina and those revered during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’ve paired with my friend Carrie Johnson, founder and owner of Style Me Perfect, to support our local Sky Lakes Cancer Center for the instillation of a new Linear Accelerator radiation therapy machine, desperately needed to provide cutting-edge and life-saving therapy to patients just like Caitlyn.  Our businesses – Style Me Perfect and Harman Ebner Finery – are holding a two-day fundraising event to provide support for Sky Lakes Cancer Center’s “Be a Hero” Campaign; raising awareness of the heroism of community members battling cancer and bolstering their treatment with the best and most effective cancer-fighting technology they so greatly deserve. 

Throughout today, Friday, October 26th and tomorrow, Saturday, October 27th, 30% from the sales of all styling packages purchased through Style Me Perfect and all limited-edition “Caitlyn” clutches handcrafted by Harman Ebner Finery will be donated to Sky Lakes Cancer Center in Caitlyn’s name – and in tribute to her enduring heroism.

We invite you to honor the loved ones and fearless heroes in your life by joining with us to support Sky Lakes Cancer Center.  Together, let’s continue to stamp out fear with HOPE!

{Caitlyn being styled by Carrie Johnson, founder and owner of Style Me Perfect. 
Purchase your styling package here and 
support Caitlyn and other patients treated at Sky Lakes Cancer Center!}

{Caitlyn with her namesake clutch by Harman Ebner Finery,
emblazoned with the word “Fearless” throughout the interior.}

{All photos are the gift of Kelly Armijo from Armijo Designs.}


  1. Katie, such a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing Caitlyn's story and for the reminder of the strength and hope that is in all of us. Praying for a successful fundraiser to give hope to those who need it most. Blessings, my friend!

    1. Thanks so very much, Heidi!! Blessings to you and your family!

  2. As a breast cancer survivor and former patient of Sky Lakes (formerly Merle West Cancer Treatment Center) I applaud and proudly support your efforts to bring this unfortunately much needed technology to the Klamath Basin.

    May God Bless you richly!

    And Caitlyn, fight on fearlessly!

    Cindi Brower (Grand Junction, CO)

  3. Wonderful post.
    Maybe follow each other???
    My Blog