How does Rays of Hope have such insight on the obstacles that single mothers with breast cancer face? Tenora Finley the organization’s founder has prevailed over breast cancer two times in the last seven years and is currently fighting to be counted amongst the warrior women who bounced back three times.
To get a full understanding of Tenora’s circumstances we need to go back to December of 2010. Tenora was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. Throughout the many treatments there were many things she couldn’t do for herself or for her family. Thankfully Tenora had support in the shape of friends and family that helped her. Little rays of hope that came by way of hot home cooked meals and capable people to watch over her kids.
After enduring nine months of chemotherapy, radiation and undergoing a lumpectomy, she was given a clean bill of health in December 2011. With this relief, came realization. What about all the other women fighting who don’t have help? This one question ignited a passion to help single mothers overcome the struggles of breast cancer treatment.
With that flame kindled, Tenora began the slow and steady journey to establish the Rays of Hope Foundation.
Fast forward to August 2015…after a routine checkup, less than five years after her original diagnosis Tenora is informed that the cancer is back with a vengeance. At the onset, she asked herself a very common question, “How will I endure a second time?” After a few short days of making arrangements and coming to grips with the situation, Tenora formulated a very simple answer to this question.
“I will take this opportunity to note every need, every want and every comfort we can give through Rays of Hope.” She decided to find the silver lining. To use her condition and treatment as a means to help other women. With this mission embedded in heart, she knew how she would endure. Because she had to…
Not only for her sons, her friends and family, but for all the women who cannot find the silver lining.
So regardless of going through a bilateral mastectomy surgery to remove the cancer. A port-a-cath insertion with unforeseen side effects, chemo and radiation treatment, she persevered and continued on with hope in her heart.
For a little while things were getting better. She felt stronger, her treatment was finally at its end and it seemed there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Then September rolled around again. This time it was 2016 and the pain had changed. What she had thought were sore muscles, stress and exhaustion actually was cancer. When the call came, it wasn’t her that was choking with tears over the receiver, it was her physician.
The cancer had metastasized on the L1 & L2 lumbar of her spine, as well as her lungs. The severity of the situation was so dire that she was admitted to the hospital that the same day.
Everything moved quickly from that point. There was no “letting it sink in”. She and her doctors began a third battle with an even more formidable enemy.
Radiation, blood and platelet transfusions, countless days in the hospital, and so many days without seeing her sons. The Chemo was so invasive that at one point it literally crippled her.
Through it all, she is still fighting. The cancer is dwindling, fleeing from an unlikely defense; a positive body and mind.
Both parts working together in an intricate dance, unseen and unfathomable, by anyone outside looking in.
Tenora is fighting:
To learn from her own pain
To be thankful for small kindness
To lean on the people she loves
To have faith in God
To provide resources through Rays of Hope that aren’t out there for women just like her, working to do all the same things.