Fighting Together: Young Survivors of West Michigan

Posted at 9:49 PM, Jun 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-13 15:46:22-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (June 12, 2014) – Lindsay Pavey has fought off breast cancer once before – and she’s  in the middle of the fight again.

“During this time, it’s really hard on your self-esteem,” she says. “You’re losing your hair, you’ve lost your eyebrows. Everything you kind of used to use as a tool to make up and feel better.”

“We just don`t have that choice anymore.”

But a local support group is working to help women battling cancer find beauty.

The Young Survivors of West Michigan held a henna event at the Hearts for the Arts studio in Grand Rapids on Thursday. It was just one of the many events and meetings the group holds to help young women deal with everything from cancer diagnosis to the road to remission.

A makeup artist donated her time to paint henna tattoos on women’s bald heads.

The Lark Studio was on hand to take photos.

“I was actually nursing my daughter when I discovered the lump and just thought that it was a blocked milk duct,” event organizer Shaneé Laurent says. “I never thought it could happen to me.”

Laurent was just 33 years old and a new mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“You’re just so much younger, you don`t even think to be looking for it, you don`t think this is going to happen,” Pavey says. “But it does.”

Pavey was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 28.

She helped found the Young Survivors after she realized there was nowhere for young women to turn after being diagnosed with cancer.

The group meets twice a month, sharing support and, more importantly, understanding.

“It’s a really ugly thing that we’re dealing with,” Laurent says, “and there can be some really dark days. But just knowing that you’re not alone and you have this group to guide you” makes all the difference.

But these meeting aren’t for the women to feel sorry for themselves, though they do allow themselves to have bad days.

Pavey says it’s helpful for the women to be able to sit around and be honest with their feelings and emotions, no matter what kind of days they’re having.

You’ll likely find them laughing and cherishing every moment, because they’ve learned just how precious life can be.

“Positivity is they way to get through it,” Pavey says. “You`re not going to ‘negative away’ cancer, so we might as well stay together and be happy.”

You can connect with the Young Survivors of West Michigan through their Facebook page.