At Texas Oncology hospital in Tyler, Texas, patients typically ring a bell to signal the end of their chemotherapy treatment. But mom Wendy Freden, 45, took things to the next level by sporting muay thai boxing gloves and punching that bell instead.
Daughter Cameron Stokes shared the powerful moment on Twitter, captioning it: “My mom beat cancer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (She wanted to punch the bell, which is why she has gloves on LOL).”
MY MOM BEAT CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (she wanted to punch the bell which is why she has gloves on LOL) pic.twitter.com/YECkRJxVL3
— cam (@cambusken) June 15, 2017
The 18-year-old’s post has gone viral, garnering more than 200,000 likes and more than 40,000 retweets. More than 350 people have commented on Cameron’s post, cheering her mom on.
my heart is bursting for your mom, you and your family !! this is so amazing, she is so strong !!! congratulations :’)))
— anj (@anjaliegrande) June 17, 2017
YES!!! I celebrated just like that with my mama at the end of 2016. ????????✨
— Mary (@ffuckthehaters) June 17, 2017
my mom rang her bell at the Texas oncology in Flower Mound last year, SO happy to see other moms winning the fight & doing the same!
— Lauren Lanz (@lauren_lanz) June 17, 2017
Cameron tells Yahoo Beauty that her mom’s last day of chemotherapy was an emotional one for her, too. “I felt overwhelmed with so many different emotions: joy, excitement, happiness, etc,” she says. “I cried the entire day, seriously. From day one, all I wanted was to take it all away from her, and I’m so happy it’s over.”
Through her daughter, Freden shares with Yahoo Beauty that she had been diagnosed with stage 1A multifocal invasive breast cancer on Feb. 1, 2016 — when she was 44 years old — after she felt a lump in her right breast. “My last mammogram was March 2016 and did not detect any abnormalities; therefore, I didn’t honestly feel it was going to be much of anything,” Freden says. “I had a diagnostic mammogram (mammogram with an ultrasound) and was immediately scheduled for a biopsy, as the radiologist was pretty sure it was malignant. The biopsy revealed I had two different primary invasive cancers connected by a line of ductal cancer (looked like a barbell).”
After meeting with an oncologist, a general surgeon, and a plastic surgeon, she was flooded with decisions. “Lumpectomy, mastectomy, radiation, reconstruction,” she says. “For some women, this is an emotional decision, but I had no difficulty requesting a double mastectomy. I never wanted to hear ‘you have breast cancer’ again. Three weeks after diagnosis, I had a double mastectomy.”
That was followed by 16 weeks of chemotherapy and side effects including bone pain, hypersensitivity to light and sound, extreme exhaustion, neuropathy, and mouth sores. Since Freden — who is a presenter at the cosmetics company Younique and a physician’s assistant — has been unable to work during treatment, she has a YouCaring fundraising page to help with her lost income.
Her last round of chemo was on June 14. “I brought boxing gloves with me, as it is tradition to ‘ring’ the chemo bell once your chemo is complete,” she shares. “I had zero intention of ringing it — I wanted to punch it off the wall.”
Freden adds that the gloves were special ones. “The owner of Younique had gifted these to me at the start of my cancer journey,” she says. “They are a mission-first company, and they only want to empower, uplift, and validate women across the globe. So it was a great honor to punch that bell with my Younique gloves on.”
Cameron says she was inspired by her mom’s strength. “I learned that she is the strongest person I have ever met,” she shares with Yahoo Beauty. “Despite going through so much, working multiple jobs and being their for her children, she still was upbeat, optimistic, and pushed for all of us to be hopeful and happy, and even if she was upset she wouldn’t show it. She wanted us to make it concrete that she was okay. I appreciate that so much. I would’ve lost it had she not stayed as strong as she did.”
By sharing her story, Freden hopes that more women will check their own breasts for lumps, in addition to getting regular mammograms, and let their doctor know right away if they feel anything new or unusual. “It is so important to educate women about self-detection,” she says. “This saved my life. Become familiar with your breast tissue. Your breast tissue is lumpy and bumpy and you may not know exactly what you are feeling, but you will know if something is new or different if you perform regular self-breast exams.”
Freden still faces a total hysterectomy, along with breast reconstruction and up to 10 years of taking an anti-estrogen medication. “But I can say, ‘Yes, I am cancer-free as of today!’”
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