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Fearless Female: Alicia Fjerstad

It isn't about the absence of fear, but doing things in spite of it. Each Friday I recognize amazing females I've come across that are helping others change their lives in a positive way and represent a type of fearlessness that we can all learn from and be inspired by.

She started out as my neighbor and grew into what I hope will be a life long friend. My life has been better with her in it. Her laugh is contagious, her dedication to her family is admirable and is a friend to all. If you don't know her, you should. Meet Alicia Fjerstad.

Why I picked Alicia:

1. She's still a ball a positivity.

Everyone goes through hard stuff in their lives and clearly in this case some more than others. But never do you hear her play a pity card. She continues to move forward with grace and positivity not as though the bad hasn't happened but as if they are building blocks that add to her strength and story. She CHOOSES to always wears a smile on her face and share it with everyone she comes across.

2. She pushes through.

I don't think she ever knows her own strength. But as I've watched her over the years, she's overcome battle after battle of adversity and pain. For many it would certainly destory them and while I know there was a lot of tears and feelings of hopelessness she didn't give way to them. She's what it means to say "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." She is absolutely 100% Alicia 2.0 (read her story below)

3. She's a friend everyone wants to have.

It's no secret why people love this girl but she is a person that cares and thinks of others often without any gain for herself. She shows up for friends and family without asking. She can make you laugh until you pee and be there while you cry. Alicia is the friend that everyone should have.

Here is Alicia and her Real, Raw, Brutal Truth.

Statistics are scary. What’s even scarier is the statistic of 1-in-8 women being diagnosed with Breast Cancer in her lifetime. That means that on average, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the US every 2 minutes.

Most people have significant dates that stick out in their memory; birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. For me, it’s October 28th, 2015 (as well as others but for the sake of this story, it’s that date!). But my story didn’t start there. It started at least 2 years prior to that when I felt a lump in my left armpit/breast area. I didn’t think at 26 though I could get cancer so I brushed it off. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that a mass stayed and grew. A rare, cystic, cancerous mass had made home in my left breast and lymph nodes. But I didn’t know that’s what it was. And like any naive 28 year old, I kept putting it off. I had “things” to do that were way more important than being seen by a medical professional for what seemed like nothing.

WRONG! Ladies (and men alike!) don’t ever, ever, EVER put anything off.

What I thought was ‘nothing’ and would be taken care of ended up being a rare tumor that only 1 doctor at Mayo Clinic had seen in his years of profession that presented in a lung. You guys, a Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, classification Triple Negative, encompassed by 100’s of pockets of cysts. And each time the tumor was poked, or prodded, it grew. At one point, my mass grew to the size of a pineapple for reference. I went through 24 weeks of some hard hitting chemotherapy, my first surgery to remove the tumor infested breast and lymph nodes, 25 rounds of aggressive radiation while doing an oral chemo to heighten the effects of radiation, followed but another surgery to remove the non-cancerous breast, followed by another try at oral chemo, followed by 2 more rounds of surgery for fat grafting and implant swap out. What’s still on the docket? Another surgery for more fat grafting and a microscopic surgery to fix the fact that I have no lymph nodes to process my bodily fluids in my left arm leaving me swollen and sore on a regular basis. What’s gone? Alicia. She is gone. The person I once was is not the person I see in the mirror anymore. What’s left? Alicia 2.0. She is stronger, braver, more compassionate, forgiving, and patient.

October isn’t just Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s my reminder that I get to live another day, thankfully to the lifesaving miracles of Mayo Clinic, not because I was smart and went in when I first thought something was wrong. So this is my plea to you, be smart. If you feel something and you are unsure, go in. If something presents itself and isn’t normal, go in. If you just don’t feel comfortable about the way you are feeling, GO IN! Don’t Google, Google is bad. Go into a Medical Professional and get their opinion. You are never a bother, you are never wasting anyone’s time, you are important and your life matters!

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