Meet Rika Cargill, 36 – “The Fighter”

            Rika was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in August 2012. Unfortunately, Rika wasn’t a stranger to this horrible disease. She lost both her mother and grandmother to breast cancer and her father to prostate cancer. Rika decided to fight because she didn’t have an option to give up for three very special reasons.

“Motherhood made it worth the fight,” says Rika.

She is a mother of three and not only on a mission for them, but for those who can no longer contend. Rika connected to Brushes With Cancer through artist, Jessica Bond Montalbano, and her work at previous events. Her “twist” on cancer is to be present and enjoy time with your family and friends. Losing her loved ones didn’t generate a resentful outlook; rather it made Rika even more grateful. Cancer shaped the trajectory of her life in positive ways she never deemed possible.

Her cancer journey fostered a more patient, concerned, and loving mother. She relishes every single moment with her children. Having this disease, also called for open lines of communication with her children. It’s created a platform for dialogue and those tough conversations, which need to take place. She’s learned to embrace change and encourage her family to as well.

If there is one takeaway we can all learn from Rika, it’s through her message.

            “It’s good to live in the moment than not to live at all.”

-Rika Cargill

Mother, Fighter, Survivor, Inspiration

*Blog entry submitted by Courtney Anixter

 

Meet Nichole Olson, 31-”Close Watch”

In May of 2013, Nichole found a lump in her breast during a routine shower exam. She immediately called her doctor and had it biopsied that day. She learned her fate and headed straight into a mastectomy with reconstruction followed by six months of chemo. Then in August of 2015, she had a full hysterectomy for BRCA2 gene and, sadly, in October 2016 discovered a new lump in almost the same spot as the original. Nichole had surgery again to remove and test the lump. After twenty-eight radiation treatments, she is still watching closely today.

Given the extent of her ordeal Nichole suffered from PTSD, which led her friend Heather to suggest becoming involved in our organization. Nichole thought the process of joining the Brushes With Cancer community would not only help her heal, but also provide comfort to other young women in her shoes.

Nichole’s son was only one and a half when she was first diagnosed. She worried her capabilities and limitations due to her illness would fail her as a mother. She relied on others guidance and support in raising her child. She credits her family for taking care of her son when she needed to take care of herself. Nichole treasures every major milestone with her son, especially seeing him sign up for kindergarten.

Final words from Nichole as we remember and learn from her story.

“Everybody is entitled to feel how they want to feel! If you want to feel overly optimistic and happy all of the time then do it! If you want to sit in a corner and cry the whole afternoon then do it! But the one thing you can do to help yourself is live.”

-Nichole Olson

Mother, Survivor, Inspiration

*Blog entry submitted by Courtney Anixter