Genea Arrasmith is the embodiment of energy and spirit. She loves life and sharing it with family and friends. In fact, just days before her breast cancer diagnosis, she was throwing a surprise party for her 21st wedding anniversary.
Dense breast tissue was often the cause of repeat mammograms. She was used to this. But, an unfamiliar lump in her breast caused her to make an appointment in between annual exams. The diagnosis? Invasive ductal carcinoma. Hearing those words, she felt fear, not for herself, but for how this would impact her family. With a mother who died of ovarian cancer, Genea knew how it felt to hear those stinging words, "mom has cancer." At that moment, she decided that she had to be strong. "I didn't have time to be scared or sick," she declared. She told herself that she would bear the load for everyone. Unlike most cancer patients who receive encouraging cards from family and friends after the diagnosis, Genea sent encouraging cards telling those she loved that she had cancer, but "it's temporary, and it's going to be alright."
Despite her resolve, there were things that this 5'5" tower of strength could not control. There were surgeries, chemo and hair loss. She said she trusted her doctors, Dr. Sloan Warner and Dr. William D. Camp, with her life. There were days that she had to let others care for her, admittedly, not something she liked to do. When asked what the biggest challenge of facing cancer was, she laughingly said, "giving up control of my kitchen!" But as she had always been there for them, her family and friends provided support and laughter. Genea, the constant clown, made sure there was plenty of laughter! The day she shaved her head, she threw an adieu mes cheveux party (French for goodbye my hair)! She said, "The only thing I could control was my spirit and attitude. For a while, cancer took everything else."
Today when you meet Genea, she will hand you a business card that reads, Genea Arrasmith, Breast Cancer Warrior. She meets with and supports other women bringing them gift bags and the advice to "be your own advocate, be informed about your status and options." She also likes to remind them that "you can be sexy with and after breast cancer." At the cancer center she gives them tips on looking and feeling beautiful. Her mantra is, "I'm not having cancer AND looking bad." Speaking to Genea it is clear that cancer does not take away what is best about a person, it only enhances it.
"[Having] cancer has given me a sense of peace," she says. "I have faced my greatest fear, and what's helped me through this is that I focused on how others will handle it, not myself. If me having cancer did or can help someone else, it was worth it. I want to leave a legacy."
"There have been a lot of speed bumps in my life. Cancer is just one of them."
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