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Search for the silver lining – every cancer journey has at least one!
Julie’s family when first diagnosed in 2015

Julie was no stranger to those feared few words “you have cancer” as she was packing up her Chicago home in 2018 to move to Charlotte with her husband, three kids and their Labrador mix. These were words she had heard three years prior after a breast biopsy confirmed she had invasive lobular carcinoma.

I still recall sitting at the dinette in 2015 when my doctor called and said, “I am sorry, it is cancer and it is aggressive.” I was in shock. You just don’t think it will happen to you until it does. To say I was scared is an understatement. My kids were only 10, 8 and 3 at the time – they still needed their Mommy. As any cancer patient knows, your life suddenly becomes a whirlwind of doctor visits and decisions that need to be made. Your head spins as you navigate this complex web that has become your life. So many questions ranging from “Am I going to live?” to “Who is going to drive my son to baseball and my daughter to dance?” It is overwhelming and frightening. However, as in any life journey, you pause, take a deep breath and ask yourself a very important question. Do I choose to see the glass as half empty or half full? I chose half full.

Rather than stress over doctor visits and upcoming surgeries which were inevitable, I chose to embrace my family and friends. I learned to enjoy seeing my home turn into what resembled a beautiful flower shop. My living room became a greeting hall as I greeted so many wonderful friends stopping by to wish me well. My family had meals delivered for months from kindhearted friends and neighbors. Gift baskets were dropped off filled with all sorts of goodies. Friends kindly transported my kids to their many activities. The giving went on and on.

However, like many, I was not as comfortable being on the receiving end as I was doing the giving. When you have cancer though, you are forced to do the receiving. In doing so, your heart humbly opens and accepts the outpour of generosity and kindness – the kind that only happens as a result of a life-altering event such as a cancer diagnosis. For me, this was my first silver lining – learning how to humbly receive and being forever grateful for all my friends and family’s love and generosity.

Fast forward to 2018, I chose to see the glass half full again. I recall nervously answering my surgeon’s call as I packed box after box just to hear those feared few words repeated “I am sorry, it is cancer.” Relying on faith, I knew we had to keep our move as planned despite hearing otherwise from friends and family. You only know one person in Charlotte, how are you going to get through a cancer diagnosis only knowing one person? Why leave an extensive network of wonderful friends at a time like this? After all, it was our choice to move.

We chose to take the leap of faith regardless. I embraced my family’s new adventure. There were so many uncertainties including a new elementary school, middle school and high school, new friends, and new neighbors, but I knew we would be ok. Focusing on the excitement of our new adventure calmed my fears “what if the cancer metastasized? Am I going to be ok? What about my kids, what if they lose their Mom?” – all normal thoughts that flood your mind amidst a cancer diagnosis.

The first thing we did was search for the best oncologist. After thorough research we found Dr. Favaro and Oncology Specialists of Charlotte. Dr. Favaro was one of the first people we met in Charlotte. I still recall our first visit with him. His compassion, knowledge and calm demeanor gave me an instant sense of peace and I knew I was in excellent hands and would be ok.

Julie’s family today!

I started radiation and met some of the kindest nurses I have ever met. We all got to know each other well over the subsequent 42 visits and shared lots of stories. Next thing you know, they kindly introduced me to another patient, an aviation expert, who wanted to meet my son, a budding private pilot. Mr. Kruse, a private pilot himself, eventually became my son’s aviation mentor and changed the course of his life (my second silver lining). He enabled my son to start the Ardrey Kell Aviation Club and together with the help of the EAA Young Eagles Organization ( have helped students achieve careers in aviation that would have otherwise been impossible for them to achieve. It warms my heart to know that these young men and women will be forever grateful to my son and Mr. Kruse for opening up these doors of opportunity and changing their lives for the better. In turn, I will be forever grateful to the kind nurses that made it happen.

Little did I know the day I heard those feared few words “You have cancer,” I would one day look back and be eternally grateful for it. Today, I am cancer free and enjoying my life in Charlotte. I am grateful for my faith that kept me optimistic. I am grateful for Dr. Favaro and his staff for their continued support and kind hearts. I am grateful for my family and friends. Thank you for letting me share my story and my wish is for everyone to find their silver lining. And please remember, every day is a gift, embrace it to the fullest.

By Madeline Groves | Posted in Front Page News, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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