Witnessing people conquer hardship and find light through dark times is inspirational as much as it is empowering. We were fortunate enough to have met four standing survivors alongside some of their family members at our Peace Love World headquarters and to have the privilege to share their stories. Their time spent with the Peace Love World family was one to remember, filled with beautiful moments. We are eternally grateful that they took the time to spend the day and share their experience with us. Take the time to get to know these beautiful souls and the stories that showcase their strength in love.
Alane is a cheerleading coach, mentor and wife. Peace Love World was blessed to cross paths with Alane at Oprah’s Life You Want Tour, at the beginning of September. Although at the time we did not know she was a breast cancer survivor, we felt an instant connection to her vibrant, positive energy, which aligns with Peace Love World’s philosophy, movement and campaign. It seemed to be destiny, not coincidence that we would cross paths with Alane again. At the end of September, we posted an open call for people to share their breast cancer stories and Alane felt it was her calling to share her own. Her husband and her biggest fan encouraged her to come and be a part of an experience where she could share her story. Here we are now and as a team we see that she is strong, she is a survivor, she is empowered, she is strength in love.
Sofia Ahmad Jones
Sofia Ahmad Jones is a beautiful mother of two with a heart of gold. Rania, her nine year old daughter, flew from Chicago with her to share her mom’s special story and her own experience. When Sofia had discovered a lump in her breast through self-examination two years ago, she scheduled an appointment with her doctor and sent Rania to her cousins house. Worried and confused she automatically knew “something wasn’t right.” Rania felt she had to find inner strength while her mom was going through chemo and radiation. She was inspired to be strong by watching the movie Brave. Sofia was at peace knowing that her family as well as the community would take care of her. “The hardest part for me was that I was sick,” said Sofia. There were days where she felt helpless and scared, unable to get out of bed. She feared death and the thought of leaving her family. Coming out of reconstruction surgery, her goal was to be a strong voice of breast cancer awareness. Being a part of the Peace Love World campaign has given her the opportunity to tell readers and listeners the importance of early detection, positivity and never giving up. Sofia saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Love got her through it and she came out stronger than ever. She is a survivor.
Valerie Ramkarran (Val) and Amy Carello share a special friendship. Val entered her best friend Amy into Peace Love World’s open call for breast cancer stories, knowing that her story was special and one to share and inspire others. Val had also submitted the story as a surprise, with the intention of bringing Amy on the journey together as they did through rough times. Amy was going through divorce and bankruptcy at the time of her diagnosis and this not only shocked Val but angered her. As her best friend, she did not understand why she deserved to go through what she did then cancer. “She is the strongest person I know,” said Val. Amy’s strength is shown through her positive outlook on life, the way she loves her daughters, and the constant smile on her face. Amy brought the laughs and the fun to this beautiful day. The experience would have been incomplete without this beautiful friendship to lighten up the day.
Lissette “Lele” Fernandez is a genuine spirit from inside and out. She has been a part of the Peace Love World family before it was even a brand and it was just an all-girl “Love” party at Alina Villasante’s home. She has been a part of the journey every step of the way and are blessed to have her share her story. The day before her diagnosis, Lele, Alina, and their BFFs had just returned from an all-girls ski vacation. Five women, best friends, on the mountains laughing and loving each other came home to unbelievable news. About 11 months prior, she had visited her doctor for a mammogram and she appeared to be healthy to the doctors. Another mammogram was done later that year which is when she was with her husband and she was diagnosed. Lele is loved by so many and her diagnosis affected her family and friends more than anyone could imagine. Her positive energy and her love for the people around her got her through tough times. She says, “Without love you can’t have strength, and without strength you can’t have love.” As a survivor and a loved one to many she made sure to show strength and love to all throughout this experience. Lele’s strength in love is how she was able to “plow through it.”
The unmatchable smile that you see has been a part of the Peace Love World family since its birth and has been featured this month not as a survivor but as a representation of someone who has been touched by breast cancer in more ways than most. Sarah’s mother Elizabeth Murray is one of Alina’s best friends who attended ski vacation with Lissette prior to her diagnosis. Being that Lissette has been a part of Sarah’s upbringing , she has become family and been an aunt to her throughout her life. Sarah was a part of the love and strength that Lele received throughout this time. Her connection to breast cancer made her scared and worried. Elizabeth’s sister, Margarida Maria Cerqueira-Vadillo was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer at the age of 28. In addition to the breast cancer she had many positive lymph nodes. Elizabeth, graduated from the University of Miami and received her BSEE (bachelor electrical engineering) followed by double master degrees MSIE (industrial engineering) and MBA (Business Administration). However, during this difficult time she found her strength pursuing to try and find a medication for her sister in pharmaceuticals. God took Margarida on December 13, 1992 at the age of 33.”Growing up I didn’t understand what breast cancer was or why she had passed away from it,” says Sarah. At the age of 15, she learned and understood perfectly. She began to feel her spirit surround her no matter where she was. “Today she still sits on my shoulder protecting me. She is the light on my darkest days.” Magical things happen to Sarah everyday and through her aunt’s light she was able to find strength and love during Lele’s diagnosis. Through them she am stronger and through them she is empowered. She is strength in love.