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Survivor Story: Sharon Kaye

Sharon displays her contribution to the Cups of Courage breast cancer awareness exhibit

Sharon displays her contribution to the Cups of Courage breast cancer awareness exhibit

“Having cancer opened another set of eyes that I didn’t have before.” That is how Sharon Kaye describes her experience surviving breast cancer. It’s an experience that includes her original diagnosis in 2011, followed by chemotherapy that left her virtually bed-ridden for three months, then a double mastectomy, radiation, and a yearlong process of reconstructive surgery.

But in addition to the grueling medical treatments and surgeries, there is another aspect of cancer survival that Sharon describes as “a cleansing.” By participating in programs at the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara (CscVvsb), Sharon found a group of people she could share the experience with – people who knew what it was like and how to talk about it in a real way. She found a place where she could open up and find renewal, honesty, and understanding.

Since her first visit to CscVvsb, Sharon has participated in a weekly support group, watercolor classes, knitting, meditation, yoga, educational seminars, and the annual holiday party and survivors picnic. In August she helped decorate bras for the Cups of Courage breast cancer awareness exhibit that will be on display at the Paint the Town Pink fundraiser at The Oaks Shopping Center on October 7. In September Sharon’s paintings from the watercolor class were displayed at the “Art of Survival” exhibit at the ABRA Art Gallery in Westlake Village.

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Sharon and a friend at the 2013 Cancer Survivors Picnic

“The Cancer Support Community has made me feel like part of a family,” says Sharon, who lives in Newbury Park and until her diagnosis worked as a hairstylist. “Having cancer has made me into a totally different person – a better person. When I first got the diagnosis I thought it was the end, but it was just the beginning. It helped enrich me. I just feel like a renewed person.”

Sharon’s message to anyone dealing with cancer treatment or recovery is to give the programs at CscVvsb a chance. “Reach beyond your fear and just chance it and give it a try,” says Sharon. “We need you just as much as you need us and we love to help. It’s worth it for the emotional cleansing and to be around people that really embrace you. It’s a powerful thing.”

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