“Cancer is scary and you’re going to be scared, there’s no other way around that,” Charity says. “But it does get better. The hard part doesn’t last forever.”
As a real estate broker in Lane County for 21 years, Charity is very much a people person.
“What I love about my job is the relationships,” she says. “I’m selling homes to people and then their children, then their grandchildren. Or, I sold someone their first house and they’re ready to have kids. It’s really about following people’s lives, and they’re following mine, too.”
Charity’s life took an unexpected and devastating turn when her younger sister Fawn was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
“She had chemotherapy and radiation in the beginning, and it didn’t work. It just kept spreading, and she passed away,” Charity says. “I found out two days after my sister’s funeral that I had breast cancer.”
Charity, who naturally exudes positivity, began to experience the physical and emotional toll of her own cancer diagnosis.
“I have good days, and I have bad days. There are days that I just stay in bed. I’m tired, I’m nauseous, there’s pain. But you have to tell yourself it’s not going to last forever.”
Since her diagnosis, Charity has shared her journey on Facebook and discovered that posting updates is a good way to keep family and friends informed of her situation. It also spurs others to send her positive thoughts and support.
“When I have bad days, I will go through those posts and I will read the comments people have left me and they give me hope,” she says.
Cancer’s financial toll
The oldest of seven siblings, Charity is surrounded by family; her mom and her daughter are by her side during every medical appointment. But when her medical bills began to impact her finances, Charity realized she needed a different kind of support.
Her care team at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center connected her with Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program, which provided Charity with gift cards for groceries and gas, so she could continue to get to and from work and treatment.
“People have other things to worry about, like getting better, keeping positive—versus worrying about paying their bills, putting food on the table, wondering how they’re going to get to their next medical appointment,” she says. “Having these resources available really changes the outlook of cancer, and you don’t feel like you’re alone. That changes a bad day into a good day.”
Focusing on the future
Since Charity was diagnosed, she has completed chemotherapy, underwent surgery and is currently receiving radiation therapy. She was one of 10 Red Carpet Survivors honored at the Girls Night Out celebration, the finale to the Bras for Cause campaign that raised $108,000 for Oregon Cancer Foundation this fall.
“More and more people are being diagnosed with cancer. It’s a scary place to find yourself. To have the community come together to help and support people when they really need it—it’s truly an amazing thing to witness.”