This was her dream home and she couldn’t be happier where things were at this stage of her life.
In April 2014, Cheri Lavalle was living her life, and had recently moved into her grandfather’s house with her husband. This was her dream home and she couldn’t be happier where things were at this stage of her life. That month, she had a surreal dream. In it, she was receiving chemotherapy at Space Coast Cancer Center. Lavalle wasn’t one to do monthly self-examinations, but the dream prompted a visit to her doctor, especially after her finding a lump herself. Several tests and procedures later and, there she was, sitting in the Space Coast Cancer Center receiving chemotherapy, her devoted husband by her side.
“Being a Type-A personality and a registered nurse, I found great difficulty not feeling in control of this situation,” Lavalle says. “The diagnosis was stage 3A breast cancer and I knew having cancer in the lymph nodes was not good.”
She started to read self-help books, prayed, and shed multiple tears, but then took a step back and realized something that would change her life forever.
“I do have control over how I deal with this situation, my nutrition, lifestyle, emotions and my future,” Lavalle shared. “I realized at that moment that cancer wasn’t the end. It was the beginning.”
After 16 weeks of chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments, she was exhausted, but it was over.
“I had a wave of enormous fear come over me of not being in treatment,” Lavalle says. “What do I do now? I am supposed to be happy it is over; yes I was, but I was released to go on with my life as normal and had just gone through war.”
She joined a support group called “Here for the Girls” and found a sisterhood of support that understood her feelings. She found herself living life again and landed her dream job. Things took a turn for the worse, though, later that summer when she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC).
“We are in treatment forever because there is no cure,” Lavalle says. “We are the ones that breast cancer kills.”
Through all of this Lavalle’s attitude stayed strong. In fact, she even admitted that life isn’t that bad.
“I find that cancer has given me more than it has taken away,” Lavalle says. “It has given me an outlook on life that, otherwise, I never would have experienced. I have learned how to forgive others and myself, how to love myself and put myself first.”
Lavalle recognizes the importance of prioritizing family and fun, stepping out of her comfort zone, not caring what others think, and choosing not to worry about things she has no control over.
“Let it go and live life,” Lavalle says. “I have learned how to be truly happy. I might not live to be 98 like my grandfather, but I have learned the meaning of life and happiness. It is not always about quantity, but quality. Happiness is a choice you make within yourself. God is the only one that is truly in control anyway, and God is the one that sent me the dream, so he must not be ready for me yet!” ◆