Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Those Who Inspire

Today I’m going to write about two women, neither of whom I know personally, but both with stories that are inspiring and worth emulating.

Both women happen to be residents of Charlotte, N.C. My sister-in-law, who lives in Charlotte, has shared their stories with me over the years. If you’ve heard of them, you know what great work they’ve done. Let me introduce you.

Jen Pagani

Jen is an amazing wife, mother and cancer awareness advocate. She was diagnosed with stage three Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2007 and continues to fight this very aggressive form of cancer to this day. She has gone through 17 different chemo regimens, multiple radiation treatments and experimental skin treatments, among other therapies. This is in addition to being a wife and mother of two little boys.

But Jen wasn’t going to let cancer win. She and her family founded the Go Jen Go Foundation. According to the website,

Go Jen Go is a community of caring people brought together for the common purpose of assisting people in their fight against breast cancer. We connect people who want to help with those that need it. Through private donations, fund-raising events, non-profit grants and we are able to provide financial, social, and emotional support to women fighting breast cancer in the Carolinas.

My sister-in-law says she sees Jen at the pool, and while she’s had a mastectomy and a number of radiation and chemo treatments that have left her scarred, Jen is just like any other mom chasing her kids around. She doesn’t care what she looks like. She’s living each precious day to the fullest. We could all certainly take a cue from Jen. I pray for Jen, hoping that her cancer will go into remission and she can live a long, happy life and watch her boys grow up.

If you live in this region, consider volunteering or donating to Go Jen Go (visit the Facebook page), or to a similar organization in your area. 

If you’re a runner, and especially if you’re a female runner with a daughter, you’ve likely heard of the organization, Girls on the Run. GOTR was founded by Molly Barker in 1996 “to provide an experience for girls to untangle from the stereotypes which far too frequently capture their spirits around middle school.” According to Molly's website:

The 12-week curriculum-based program creatively weaves running games together with activities designed to, in a fun and engaging format, provide 3rd to 8th grade girls with the tools to live their lives with intention…to journey through life with their feet firmly grounded in self-respect, communal support and love; and.their hearts filled to overflowing with joyful passion and a child-like curiosity to reach high, dream big and achieve their greatest human potential.

It's a great program that engages girls at a time when low self-esteem and peer pressure may begin to creep into their lives. GOTR uplifts girls by promoting self-worth and a healthy lifestyle, free of physical and mental toxins. Molly knows all-too-well about this. She has openly discussed her years of alcohol abuse, a failed marriage and low self-worth. After hitting her "rock bottom," she found sobriety and started pursuing her dream of the GOTR program. The first group started with 13 girls at a North Carolina elementary school. Today, GOTR is an international program with more than 100,000 participants.

It's people like Jen and Molly who are making a difference in the lives of many. Thanks, ladies, for all the work you do and the hardships you have faced to make things better for others. You are true inspirations.

Who is making a difference in your life or community? Share their story!

Images from Go Jen Go website and Girls on the Run


Lily Lemontree said...

They both sound like pretty amazing women, thanks for sharing their message with us!

Beth Dunn said...

I love this! I want to copy you but feel the ladies that are inspiring wish for privacy during health struggles. But they give me strenth, bring me closer to friends, and make me appreciate my family and my life!

High Heeled Life said...

My hat off to these ladies!! They are true inspiration for taking life's detour and making "lemon aid" ... may they know that the world is a much better place, because they are in it! Wishing you a fabulous week..xo HHL

Renée Finberg said...

these are certainly amazing people.

my best friend has whipped breast cancer once,

it came back, she kicked it.
it is back again....
and all i can do is be there for her and pray.

my friend is also an amazing person.
...it always seems so strange to me the people that cancer attacks.