For the past year, life as we know it has come to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shutdowns, quarantines, and other safety measures have been implemented to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. But for Leslie, the virus isn’t the only thing she has to fight. She was diagnosed with cancer. “I found a lump in the shower, and I immediately called my doctor,” she recalled.
After some tests and a biopsy, it was found that Leslie did have breast cancer. “I was completely caught off guard. I don’t have a family history, and I’m not even 40 yet, so breast cancer was the furthest thing from my radar.”
Filled with questions and overwhelming emotions, Leslie knew there was only one thing she should do. “I felt like I had tunnel vision. I was like, ‘Ok. I’ve only got one option.’ My one option was to get through this.”
Her treatment plan included a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. But before her scheduled radiation therapy, her mom came across an article about proton therapy, an alternative to traditional radiation.
After doing some research, Leslie decided to schedule a consultation with Dr. Josh Mondschein at Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville. “That’s all it took. After that consultation, it was like, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.'”
Throughout her journey, Leslie has always been appreciative of the little things that made her feel cared for, such as a pouf she received during chemo that contained everyday items to help through treatment. “When you’re going down a journey like this, seeing the smiles and building the relationships with staff – that made the difference.”
After going through 17 rounds of chemotherapy, three different surgeries, and 25 proton treatments, Leslie has finally won her fight against breast cancer. “At this point, I’ve been given the ‘all clear.’ I’m done with treatment. So that’s exciting,” she remarked. “But it’s almost like, ‘Ok. Now what?!'”
Looking at the pouf she received during chemotherapy, a brilliant idea came into her mind. Leslie decided to start her own Poufs for a Purpose campaign to pay it forward. “This little gold pouf goes everywhere with me. It stays in my purse because it’s a reminder that I wasn’t alone,” she clarified. “If for a split second, I can make a woman smile and appreciate that someone else was thinking about them, then it’s worth it for me.”
Last year, Leslie was able to distribute 100 Poufs for a Purpose to local hospitals in her community. Each pouf contains everyday items, such as lip balm, ink pens, hand lotion, and even handmade face masks.
This year, she wants to produce at least 150 poufs and expand the distribution area. She plans to distribute poufs to clinics where she was treated, such as Provision’s proton therapy center in Nashville. “The more hospitals, the more clinics, the more locations we can reach, the more women we can touch.” Anyone interested in helping Leslie can reach her through her email, firstname.lastname@example.org.