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Lisa Hedenstrom

  • age: 56
  • year of diagnosis: 2011
  • survivor years: 5 years
  • current city: Stateboro, GA
  • type of breast cancer: Triple positive
  • profession: Registered Nurse and currently serving as a Chief Nursing Officer for Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach
  • children: 5 (28, 26, 25, 25, 21)

About Lisa

Q&A

What is your idea of happiness?
My idea of happiness is being with family and friends who I care about. I also love being anywhere near a beach!
When and where were you happiest?
I remember being very happy after I finished chemotherapy, with no hair, but could walk on the beach or take a bike ride for the first time. I am also happy anytime my beautiful family is near me.
What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is pain and living in pain. With cancer, you face death so you’re fearful, but learn to tolerate the fear. Pain is scary especially with the cancer process.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My heroes in real life are nurses at the bedside who take care of people. I am a nurse, but not at the bedside. Other heroes are fellow warriors living and those who walked the journey with me, some who are here and some who are no longer on the earth. They are such true heroes to me.
What do you most value in your friends?
I value honesty and humor as the two key qualities of a friend. True friends listen and also tell you the truth even if it’s not what you want to hear. I love those friends the most.
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to be the scientist who has a major break to end breast cancer. I admire those who are doing research to help end this disease. Curing cancer would be a talent I wish I had. Or maybe singing to help others feel more joy in the world. (I’m a terrible singer!)
What is your current state of mind?
Peace and gratitude. It’s been five years since I finished the tough part of chemo. I am very thankful for my good days now which are plentiful.
What is your most treasured possession?
My most treasured possessions are photos of my family and friends including one photo of former co-workers who dressed up in pink and made me a floor-to-ceiling banner at work to celebrate the end of my chemo and Herceptin treatment. They dressed up in pink, made the balloon ribbon, and had food that was pink for a breakfast to help me celebrate. It was very touching to me. I also treasure mementos from my family, friends, and children. Notes and other small items.
How do you most like spending your time?
Walking on the beach, riding my bicycle with my husband (we have a tandem bike and enjoy riding), traveling as it’s on the bucket list to see all 50 states in the USA. I have seven more to go. After cancer, I stepped up my travels to work on this goal. It’s fun!
What do you most dislike?
I dislike seeing anyone have pain and suffering. Life is so short and precious, I am trying to live in the present more than ever. Also, mean people and callous people are tough to be around and thankfully the minority in the world we live in.
In your own words, what would you say to inspire or encourage someone facing breast cancer right now?
Even in the toughest times of breast cancer, there are blessings. And for folks who have an early-stage cancer, there is a great likelihood you will think of cancer as a part of you, but something in your rearview mirror most days that you only glance back at later. You will have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful women and learn about yourself even though it’s not a club any of us wanted to join. The sisters you will meet will get you through.
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