When most people think of Valentine’s Day, they think of things like hearts, flowers and candy—not a breast cancer diagnosis. However, for Cassy Stahl, February 14, 2007 began the start of her now seven-year survivorship of breast cancer.
Cassy, like many breast cancer patients, was shocked by her Stage 3 diagnosis given that she was in her early 40s with no family history, had breastfed all three of her children and regularly performed self-exams. Still, it was those self-exams that likely saved her life. She knew the persistent knot under her skin didn’t feel right and an ultrasound confirmed that it was lobular breast cancer. Just two weeks later, Cassy was pursuing treatment at MD Anderson while celebrating her 10-year wedding anniversary with husband Karl Lennart. They took a break from her treatment to spend some quality time together at a nearby aquarium and Cassy remembers wondering whether she’d live to see future anniversaries.
Thankfully, Cassy received tremendous care and maintained a positive attitude in her quest to become cancer-free. She says that while she’d never wish cancer on anyone, she is grateful for the ways it made her reevaluate life. At the time of her diagnosis, she had spent 25 years as an engineer in manufacturing firms. However, following her treatment, Cassy was reminded of how much people and relationships matter, and decided to pursue a career in real estate. She loves that she now has the opportunity to help clients find the homes where they’ll make memories. She also recently joined the sales team for Sabika, an NBCF sponsor, because the jewelry company’s mission of empowering the women who handcraft the product, as well as their commitment to breast cancer awareness, inspired her. While both of these jobs keep her quite busy, they allow her more flexibility in her schedule so she can remain involved with her family.
For Cassy, Valentine’s Day now represents another year spent loving those who mean the most to her, including kids Sophia, Linnea, and Stefan and she’s thankful for her husband’s continued commitment, noting that the stress of cancer can either drive couples apart or bring them closer together. She also says that she loves herself more today than her pre-cancer self because she values her strength and changed perspectives.
We wish Cassy, her family, and all our NBCF supporters and followers a day of hope and love this Valentine’s Day.