Being Defined by Who You Are Not by What You Have

I decided to dedicate an article to someone who is a heartening, vibrant and all around a strong woman, who is currently battling Breast Cancer, my boyfriend’s Aunt, Gina Russo Read. Gina Russo Read is a mother of two, a wife, and simply an inspiring woman that refuses to allow cancer to defy her.  She was first diagnosed in April of 2013 and then re-diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer in November of 2017, where the cancer has now spread to her Liver, Kidneys, lugs, etc.  

Through her cancer journey, certain aspects of her life have changed. In her own words, what changed the most is “my energy level is like zero most of the week, losing my hair was also a big change. And of course, coming to grips with knowing I probably won't live a long life, that's kind of hard to deal with sometimes.”

Though she has been battling it for a few years she does not use cancer as a label on herself. Some people you meet that are diagnosed with cancer are all for the parades and pinkness, however, Gina is different. When asked whether she is against participating in cancer events her response was simply “I do not participate in all that is pink, I feel like it makes it look like we are all in one big happy club.”

It is not rare that people feel this way towards cancer, it is a topic that is extremely overdone and those who have cancer would rather not be reminded every day and do not need the little pink ribbon pins to feel strong. She is strong on her own and simply, she doesn’t want to be treated any differently due to her diagnoses.  

In addition, Gina feels as if she can't escape from cancer talk. In other words, she is tired of the endless talks about cancer since it’s on tv, radio commercials, walk-a-thons, etc., and she feels as if she just can’t get away from it for just one day. In Gina’s opinion, “[It’s a] totally overdone topic, I’d like to go one whole day without hearing about it from somewhere.”

Having Cancer does not change the person you are, you are still the same person you were before —  so the question is, why do people treat and look at you any different? Gina feels strongly about not being treated like she is sick, which includes not wanting or needing self-pity and others to feel sad for her.

“I'm happy that the latest chemo I have been taking allowed my hair to grow back.  I don't like people looking at me like I'm sick. People can be extremely rude.”

She is her own person, the cancer did not change who she is, she is the same amazing person she was before the cancer. This woman inspired me greatly and hope some of her inspiration can rub off onto you.