Inspiring Me to Become a Better Person


This is the second the series about ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things. I am calling this series Leaps of Faith.

AFm Kasey 1


I recently had the chance to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee with a young lady who is an inspiration to me. You see her story is not an old one and not new but it is how she is dealing with her circumstances that make her so inspiring. You see at the ripe young age of 24 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy and went through chemo and radiation treatments. She said the hardest part for her was not losing her breasts but losing her hair. That was last year, her story is so much like my sister’s Karen because she like my sister has had to fight to finally be heard and get the diagnosis when she did. Like my sister, each time she questioned her doctor they would say you are too young, you have no family history but finally the third time she asked her doctor sent her to a specialist just to get her out of her hair. But unlike my sister’s story Kasey has been able to fight and withstand an amazing battle. My sister soon after she was diagnosed died. But this story is about Kasey Swartz.

By January of this year, Kasey was in remission. Things were going great she had her plans. But remember the saying tell God your plans and He will tell you His. He had a plan and that plan included a trip to the doctor because she was not feeling well. The trip ended up with a new diagnosis of Stage 4 Terminal Cancer. Wow, what would you do if you found out that you had terminal cancer? Would you sit and cry and just give up or would you be angry at God and ask why me or would you fight? I am not sure that I would say I would do the same thing if I was in her place. But she chose to fight this thing called Cancer.

kasey Faith

She was told that she had a 50/50 chance to respond to the chemo but guess what she is responding. When she was first given the diagnosis she was not a Christian. She said that she as soon she heard the diagnosis she hit her knees and started praying. She said she felt paralyzed by God’s presence kneeling in the guest room of her father-in-law’s house. Once she began treatments she became a member of a church and started teaching her almost 3-year-old daughter about the Bible. Yep folks, during all this she has had to care for a little one. She is sad for what she may not see in the future, like her daughter’s wedding and her own grandchildren. She says she is planning like she only has the 2 years that the doctors say she has left but she knows in her heart that God is using her for His plan that she hopes to be around 50 more years. She is a very humble young lady, I have met others who get a little sick and they do not have the drive and attitude of this young lady. She did not ask God to take her she instead prayed and asked God to use her. She said that God needed her to fight so others can be inspired by what she is doing. She thanks God every day that He is using her so that her pain would not be a waste.

I mention that she is planning like she has two years to live and with that, she writes in a journal every day for her daughter. The journal is way for her daughter to know who she is after she is gone (Which hopefully will be a long way down the road). In the journal, she shares with her daughter how unique she is and wishes her daughter can see herself like Kasey sees her.

As she is sitting, I am taken aback by how positive and upbeat she was.  She even has written letters to her parents and the rest of her family. But the part that really got me was the one letter that she wrote to her husband’s future wife. Yep, you read that right; she wrote a letter to the future stepmom of her child to tell her how important she will be in her husband’s and daughter’s life being able to be there for the moments that she couldn’t be there for.

Folks, can you imagine writing a letter to your spouse’s future spouse in the event that something would happen to you? I could not even begin to fathom the idea much less be able to write a letter.

At this point in our conversation, and it was a conversation not an interview, we were interrupted by an elderly couple who had been sitting at the table next to us. She said she apologized for interrupting and she did not mean to eavesdrop but she wanted to thank her for her story and that she was a true inspiration. The couple were on their way to Duke for the husband’s chemotherapy. I believe in with all my heart that God put us there at this Starbucks so that they could meet each other and be encouraging to that couple.

Now don’t get me wrong Kasey is not a saint and she is the first to admit it. She says there are still nights when she cries and doesn’t doubt God but she does question why me??? At that point, she goes into talking about how the nurses at the doctor’s office have become her best friends. And they talk to her on nights like these. All the medical personnel are very supportive of her courageous fight.

She says that she doesn’t let Cancer control her and it is not going to define who she is. She belongs to a support group of fellow survivors and patients. In fact, she says there is a girl there that is the same age of her that they can just go out and hang with talking about their cancers.

kasey 2

She says that having cancer has helped her to learn to enjoy the time she has on earth and not to waste it. Before cancer, she was a workaholic, she worked in a salon in NYC doing hair for such people as Christie Brinkley and the owner of Ben’s and Jerry’s. She would work every minute of her life before this diagnosis but now she enjoys the little things like running in the rain with her daughter. Taking her daughter to work on the one day a week that she does work. Yep, that is right folks she works one day a week as a hair stylist. Remember when I told you at the beginning that losing her hair was the thing that bothered her the most. Now do you see why? She said that she was just recently able to go back to work that one day a week and that her clients have become her family. During the break that she took she did not lose one client and when she was sick they would cook her dinners. How awesome is that?

I then asked her the question how did having cancer affect her marriage? She said that if anything it has improved her marriage.

kasey 3

They are a little more spontaneous and they still fight but it is over things like paint colors or who gets to drive the motorcycle that day. Yes, she still drives a motorcycle. In fact, she drove it to met me. How cool is that? When her husband heard the diagnosis he grabbed her and hugged her and told her that we will get through this. She has even asked him to leave her because she feels that he deserves a better life but he refuses to budge. He feels like he will have her as his wife for a long time. He has never complained. And in fact, after each chemo treatment, she would come home to a bubble bath waiting for her. And he would cook her green beans and mashed potatoes which are the only thing she can eat after chemo.

As far as the relationship with her daughter, they have not told their daughter that mommy has cancer, she just knows that some days Mommy is sick. Then Kasey goes on to tell me about the prayer that her daughter prayed before bed one night “Jesus, please don’t take my mommy .” Wow, if that doesn’t bring tears to your eyes. I don’t know what will.

As I have said before Kasey works one day a week doing hair and another day she volunteers as an instructor for the American Cancer Society, Look Good, Feel Better program. This program teaches women how to look good when they are going through cancer. It is also a support group as well.

The last thing that stuck with me after my conversation with this extraordinary young woman was that I was an inspiration to her. And I was like what how could I be an inspiration to her after all, she has been going through. And she said simply by writing my blog that inspiring other’s to do something. At this point I became humbled.

At this point, our conversation became more of a personal nature and we made plans for our kids to meet up. I came into this interview as an acquaintance and left with an amazing friend.

If I could leave you with just one thing I would leave you with this:

 “A man’s heart plans his way, But The Lord directs his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

This is the verse that Kasey lives by and it’s how I want to live my life as well.

So I challenge you: what can you today to become part of a circle to help inspire someone else? Let’s inspire each other. I would love to hear what you did.

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  1. Absolutely speechless! This is an amazing post. I pray this series will empower & encourage many. Melissa, you have penned an outstanding article!

  2. What an amazing story of survival, faith, love, loyalty…. I am amazed when I see the strength some people have in hard times! Praying for you Kasey!!!

  3. I hope that most marriages don’t wait until a tragedy to be spontaneous. Unfortunately, it really says is that most people take life for granted. Wonderful story!

  4. Thank you for sharing this story! It is so awesome to see how God works in people’s lives. And how they grow through tragedy and have such hope, and faith through it all. Kasey’s story is inspiring, and I hope you have opportunity to share many more stories like this one!

  5. I think I saw a flyer the other day at the commissary about Kasey! All I could think about was how beautiful she was! What a great story and very inspiring! I love her attitude. I will be praying for this amazing family that I have never met but feel like I know so well through your story!

  6. She sounds like an incredible woman. My aunt was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer last year and has now recovered and just has to take a monthly pill, but it makes breast cancer related stories hit so much closer to home.

  7. I can’t say a word! She is really inspiring. I’m glad I’m reading this. I love the idea that she writes journal for her daughter which I hope will be continued until her daughter has the intelligence to understand 🙂

  8. Wow What a great interview. I am so sorry to hear that she has passed. Prayers for her family, particularly her little girl…

  9. What a great story and I’m so sorry to hear Kasey passed away. It’s good to hear she wrote a journal for her daughter though. A journal and letters written to loved ones is a wonderful way to keep the person alive in our hearts. Best wishes to her family and all those whom Kasey has touched.

  10. I’m so inspired by this post. Wow! Truly amazing that she continued to fight. I am sorry that she lost her battle. I can only imagine how many she inspired in the process.

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