Meet the Walker family; For the past four years, Amy Walker and her daughters Isabella and Sofia have been the recipients of financial and emotional support from non-profit Breast Cancer Angels.
In 2014, after fearfully ignoring signs that something wasn’t right, Amy got a screening and was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Amy faces the daily emotional and physical challenges of recovery, including juggling tests, scans, doctors’ appointments and treatment with self-care, while also being a working, single mother to her teenage daughters. What follows is a brief interview with the Walkers about their lives, including their shared experience with Breast Cancer Angels and the family bond that’s only grown stronger.
Q&A with Amy Walker
1. Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Lincoln Park, Chicago. I loved living there, (aside from the brutal winters); So much culture. I really love swimming in the ocean. The ocean triggers my “re-set” mode, in the best way possible. I have two magical daughters that I’m so proud of, we have a lot of fun together. I’m creatively inclined. Our whole family is, actually.
2. What inspires you? Makes you smile daily? What makes you feel empowered?
I’m inspired by people who genuinely care and take the time and actions to understand and better a less than ideal situation, with nothing to gain other than knowing they helped another. My daily smiles come from my two girls and our animals. We recognize the same irony in the smallest nuances and weirdest of situations and have the best laughing fits together. I feel empowered knowing I’ve inspired others in some positive way.
3. When were you first diagnosed with breast cancer how did you cope with the news?
In 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. I was devastated, horrified and inconsolably saddened at the idea of betraying my girls by not being here for them, not being able to see them grow up and have their mama with them for all the phases of life. I became determined. I listened. I did my own research. I chose wisely. I’ve made enormous strides for myself personally, in recognizing things that were unhealthy for me both spiritually and physically.
4. Any advice you would give to those who are scared and going through cancer treatment for the first time?
My advice would be to immerse yourself in those things that inspire you, lift you up, make you re-think things from different and broader perspectives. Do, read, watch, meditate, with/on anything that calms you. Anything that clears your mind. Take each moment as it comes, get the best help and support possible. Indulge yourself with anything that enhances your life and spirits. Stay positive and be mindful of where your mind may dwell. Get massages, surround yourself with those that make you laugh, make you feel good. Gently move off or work out a way to keep the peace and keep it simple with those that are negative towards you or in general and want to dump it all on you. This is your own personal healing time. Get as zen as possible, basically.
5. How did you first hear about Breast Cancer Angels and in what ways has BCA helped
you through this time?
I was referred to Breast Cancer Angels by my Social worker at Cedars Sinai Hospital where I undergo routine treatment. I’m a single mom with little to no help and having to juggle my Stage IV [cancer] and everything that comes in that whopper of a package, my girls and work as [well] I am able to depending on my health. It’s a lot to stay on top of it all and I can’t keep up with the demands of life and the money that is needed. BCA has been there for me to help take the stress off things like having a fridge full of healthy food, gas to get my girls to school and back and me to work and just life. It’s the basic smaller things that can easily be overlooked that help take the stress off in an enormous way. I truly believe the happier and stress free as you can be, leads to happy healing. They go together, no question, as well as effective medical and holistic treatments.
6. If you were to reflect on everything from the beginning to this point in time, how would
you describe your experience? What have you learned about yourself?
I’ve learned to appreciate life, people, nature, the world, my family and friends in a way I
haven’t experienced before. The appreciation leads to better understanding and patience and love. I’ve let go of so much fear. Things I didn’t even realize I was fearful of. Those things held me back, limited my outlook and awareness.
7. It's often thought that breast cancer is something you don't have to worry about until you get a little older. What advice can you share with young women, like your daughters, who have not been screened for breast cancer yet?
My advice is this: Yes, this is scariest, worst nightmare that has come to life. It can be shocking to realize that your vibrant youth doesn’t make you invincible. Now is the time to buck up and learn to get professional help and treatment and surround yourself with the most nurturing and supportive people you know. Get into a solid treatment plan ASAP. Don’t make the giant mistake I did and wait to be diagnosed when I knew something was not right. I was afraid to find out. I didn’t understand that, had I seen a doctor the second I knew something was weird/off/not quite right, I would have probably had more options for treatment, possibly less intrusive surgeries, an easier re-construction and a succinct timeline of treatment. For all kinds of reasons aside from my fear, I didn’t get checked properly, no one suspected this to be a reality because of my younger age. I never understood or paid attention to Breast Cancer Awareness with the deepest of understanding as to its importance in prevention and early detection, as I do now.
8. Okay now for some fun questions. What are your favorite things you do as a family?
With the holidays around the corner, what are you looking forward to the most? I love walking through holiday festive streets at night and listening to the Christmas music piping through the area and all the pretty lights and the smell of fire places burning and all the warm and sweet holiday feels. I love experiencing them and adding beautiful memories and making festive dishes and lighting beautifully scented holiday season candles and fire place lounging and the sweet time spent with my girls and my family.
Q&A with Isabella & Sofia Walker
9. Please tell our readers a little bit about yourselves.
We are doing this together.
Isabella: I’m 17. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Iced vanilla lattes are my guilty pleasure. I like to sketch fashion designs. I know every Broadway musical and all the lyrics.I’m good with editing short films or videos and creative stuff.
Sofia: I’m 16. I was also born and raised in L.A. I love the beach. I love learning to play guitar and painting.
10. What qualities do you love and admire most about your mother?
She’s funny and fun and loving. We have fun taking little road trips and listening to music and singing and dancing.
11. How did your mother’s diagnosis and treatment change your lives? Did your relationships with each other (mother to daughter, sister to sister) grow stronger?
It is a little hard to talk about. It’s too sad to think about. Our mom is a really good person and didn’t deserve this. We have definitely grown even closer. We are a team and we support and help her.
12. In what ways has Breast Cancer Angels helped your family?
We get healthy snacks and food. We get our school supplies and any other needed things from Walmart. We look for the cards in the mail every month and then usually go food shopping. We are able to spend our money from our jobs on other things we need without worrying about if we have enough food for meals.
13. Any advice you’d give others caring for loved ones with cancer?
You have to be understanding and kind. Sometimes we want to do other things, but if mom needs help we are there for her.
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