Luna Peak Company

I was introduced to Melody Lomboy and Gracelyn Bateman of Luna Peak Company in early 2018 when I had the pleasure of being a part of their Project Inspire Hope. Here is their story.

Tell us your story. What is your program all about and how did you find yourself involved?

Luna Peak Company was created by my niece, Gracelyn and I. Because of my experience with triumphing over childhood leukemia at age 6, we wanted to learn from my family’s experiences and help others when facing difficult times. We decided to create inspiring books and media content. We photograph cancer and grief survivors and our mission is to celebrate life. Our cancer survivor project is called “Project Inspire Hope” and our grief survivor project is called “Snapshots of Life After Loss.” We are known for elevating survivor stories to give hope to those faced with extreme adversity. We know that sometimes you need to “see it to believe it” so we have photographed survivors and crowdsourced stories from those who have been through the experience and are now thriving. Seeing the eyes and faces of those who have walked a similar path can be a powerful reminder that we are not alone. Our photography humanizes the taboo subjects of cancer and grief that people are oftentimes too afraid to talk about. We open up a platform for people to share about their experiences and help others in the process and hope that it also sheds light on how to better support individuals through these tough times. We have created a platform where survivors and fighters feel safe sharing their very personal stories. We are proud that our participants have also found a sense of healing from sharing their stories with us as well.

What populations and areas do you serve?

So far we are working with cancer survivors of all types of cancers to serve newly diagnosed patients looking for inspiration. We also work with grief survivors to help those newly dealing with grief. We have other populations to serve as well and are working on more ideas. We basically want to work with those in need of seeing through challenging times.

What are the main obstacles that stand between you and your mission and what ways do you find to overcome them?

Our mission is to provide products to help others through the universal ups and downs of life. We are passionate about elevating the stories of survivors and strive to inspire others to embrace life with the same vigor. One obstacle we have faced is getting to all of the survivors that want to participate. We have survivors all over the world reaching out to be a part of “Project Inspire Hope” and it is hard for us to travel all over to get to them. Another obstacle was getting our work published to be available to those that need it. We implement instagram, twitter and facebook but would like to have a tangible book available to patients in the hospitals as well as waiting rooms across the country. We are currently working with a wonderful literary agent to make this possible.

Luna Peak Company aside for a moment, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!

I battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia from ages 6-9. Surviving when many did not, I quickly found out just how strong and resilient a person can be. Throughout treatment, I swam competitively to keep my mind clear and body strong. This passion for the water led to a swimming scholarship at UC Irvine. I married my high school sweetheart, Tom Lowe, who was inspired by my oncologist at City of Hope. Tom is now an oncologist at Cancer Care Associates in Torrance. When I was undergoing treatment, I was told that I may not be able to have children, I now have 3 miracle babies- Daniel , Koa and Aiden. Family is everything to me and working with my niece makes Luna Peak Company even more special.

How has C directly impacted your own life? 

My cancer experience has shaped my entire life perspective from such a young age; when other kids were worrying about their homework- I was getting chemotherapy and fighting for my life. I feel the need to give back to the cancer community. I do this through volunteering, fundraising, and sharing my story of beating the odds to give hope to others who are newly diagnosed. My life motto is to CELEBRATE LIFE.

What are your go-to acts of self care?

I love to live life to the fullest by challenging myself with new adventures. I own a talent agency, practice yoga, swim in open water swims, play tennis and compete in mud runs. Besides my family, I am most proud of creating Luna Peak Company with the help of my niece. Without her I would not be able to juggle my mom life and this business. She is the driving force that has made this all possible. Daily check ins with Gracelyn keep me on track and sane.

What have you learned about yourself and the C community since starting with your program?

I have learned that there is is a special bond when you meet another person that has battled and overcome cancer. I am not sure if cancer chooses the strongest people to challenge, or if fighting cancer makes you a super person. But either way, survivors really are resilient, strong and amazing people.

What are some of your happiest and most joyful moments in this field?

When we have survivors come into the studio to have their photos taken. First off, I love to see them getting pampered by our amazing volunteers. They have their make up and hair done and get to feel great about themselves. It’s nice to see that cancer cannot take away all joy. When they come in to get photographed, they feel a bit nervous. So my favorite moment is telling them that I am a survivor as well. The minute I tell them, I am greeted with a huge smile and a big hug. The survivor connection is made and they relax and take the most beautiful photos. I love seeing their joy and strength.

Would you like to share one of your shittiest moments or memories of working in this field?

The hardest part of working with survivors and fighters is learning that someone passed away. When you have a large community of cancer survivors and fighters, this comes with the territory. It’s hard to deal with. Another very difficult and scary thing is finding out that a survivor that we worked with gets diagnosed with a secondary cancer. It challenges all survivors mentally, as we all fear a reoccurrence. We continue our work in memory of those that we have lost.

What are the latest happenings with your program right now?

We are finished with our photo shoots for cancer survivors and are almost finished filming grief survivors. Gracelyn and I are brainstorming new ideas to inspire others.

If you could share any piece of advice for someone who has been diagnosed, what would it be?

The diagnosis of cancer does not completely define you. But use it to mold a new you. Learn from this experience and take what you learn with you throughout your life. All of those challenges will help you in every facet of your life. And never ever forget to CELEBRATE LIFE.

How can we help Luna Peak Company?

We would love to have our social media sites grow. Please follow and share!

How can we contact you?

www.lunapeakcompany.com
@lunapeakcompany (twitter and instagram)
@snapshotsoflifeafterloss (twitter)
@melodythrives (twitter)
Luna Peak Company (facebook)
gracelyn@lunapeakcompany.com
melody@lunapeakcompany.com

Advertisements

My Friend Jamie

I met Jamie via the Kick Ass Cancer Mamas Facebook group.  Here is her story…
Tell us your story / stats:
At 5:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day in 2007, as a 27-year-old, I should have been getting ready for a romantic dinner with my husband—where we would celebrate my 14-week pregnancy. Instead, I was in a doctor’s office, learning that I had invasive ductal carcinoma. I hadn’t been too worried a few days earlier, when I first felt the lump while taking a bath. I told my husband that this was a glaring omission on the part of the editors of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Instead of dinner, I was listening to an oncologist explain that I had to start chemotherapy right away. Trying not to panic, I immediately asked how I could possibly get chemo while I was pregnant. I’d given up coffee, and now my doctor wanted to pump me full of poisonous chemicals? It seemed crazy. But after seeking out second and third opinions and doing my own fact-finding, we agreed to go forward. At 27 years old and 14 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form, so waiting until I gave birth was not a viable option. Even though I had carefully researched my decision, once the therapy began I was paralyzed by fear that my baby was being harmed by the harsh medication. To bring peace of mind, my healthcare team came up with an innovative solution: weekly ultrasounds of my baby. During a time when I was losing my hair, my toenails, and my fingernails, it was a way for me to see he was okay in there. As long as he was still alive, I told myself everything would work out. I was six months into my ten month chemo regimen when our son, Blake, was born perfectly healthy. I imagine every cancer survivor is changed by the experience—but most of them don’t get the gift of a child at the end.
C aside, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!
I am a mom, a coffee-junkie, a wife, a wanderlust, a friend, a neighbor, a lawyer, Hamilton-obsessed, a professor, a baseball fan, a runner, policy-optimist, and full of hope.
Thoughts on the pink… 
I am so grateful and proud of the work of these small but mighty non-profits, helping people living with and beyond cancer: National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship at http://www.canceradvocacy.org , The Pink Fund at http://www.pinkfund.org , Triage Cancer at http://www.triagecancer.org , Get In Touch at http://www.getintouchfoundation.org .
If you could send a message to yourself from 10 years ago… how would that go?
This is non-responsive to this question but . . . When I was first diagnosed, I would pray to God and ask him for kindergarten. I wanted to be there for Blake’s first day of kindergarten. Today, Blake is 11 years old and in the 5th grade. God is good, science rocks, and I am one lucky lady. The hardest part of joining the sisterhood, especially the sisterhood of young women with cancer, has been the tremendous loss and grief. My life is richer beyond measure for knowing these women and being blessed to call them my sister-friends, but my heart and soul aches for the loss.
What are you passionate about? Is this different than what you were passionate about before dx?
Access to healthcare. Families facing a cancer diagnosis, or any other chronic medical condition, shouldn’t have to wonder whether they can pay their rent or health insurance deductible this month. I am grateful for the work that organizations like the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), Triage Cancer, and the Pink Fund are doing to reduce the financial toxicity facing too many patients today.
Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, phrase, or curse word?
I absolutely had a C mantra I said to Blake while I was pregnant in treatment. It is not original … I stole it from my favorite movie, Why I Wore Lipstick To My Mastectomy: We are the sky and nothing can touch us … We are the sky and we will remain unchanged.
If people take away anything from your story, it would be…
Hope lives . . . my hope is an 11 year old boy who has stolen my heart. 
*** Jamie kept a personal blog during treatment which may be helpful to other young mothers finding themselves on this journey-  www.pregnantwithcancer.blogspot.com.

My Friend Jenn

I met Jenn through the Kick Ass Cancer Mamas Facebook group.  Here is her story…
Tell us your story / stats:
I was 34 at diagnosis, stage 3C IDC with 21 lymph nodes positive. I was a full time Hairstylist and had a 4 year old daughter! We had been trying to get pregnant with #2. For a year before diagnosis I had felt a lump, it only really bothered me during my period, until I got pregnant then the pain was unbearable. Went in to my OB office and saw someone other then my ob, she thought it was hormone related due to pregnancy. I was not convinced. I had been pregnant before and this wasn’t the same. Oddly enough that morning before going in I kind of had a gut feeling it wasn’t good.
C aside, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!
I am a wife, mother and hairstylist! Unfortunately with all the lymph nodes I had removed, doing hair isn’t in the cards right now. I stay home with my 15 month old chemo baby Riley Joy! I sell Younique makeup for fun as I love makeup! I’m spending time making memories with my girls!
What went through your head when you were first diagnosed?
Am I going to be able to keep this baby? I don’t want to die! This isn’t fair! Why me? Hadn’t I had enough!??!!
What are some of your personal coping skills during difficult times?
Honestly having a good cry! I have since turned to God. Praying has really helped heal me. I have this amazing support group of Cancer mamas that are there when I need a pick me up! These ladies help more then can even imagine! They get me and what I went/am going through.
Tell us about your support system. Or lack of. Where do you get your support from?
My family and friends have been great! Well, of course you lose a few along the way. My sister in law came to most all of my chemo’s with me. My friends set up meal trains and play dates for Sophia.
Many people are unaware that you can do chemotherapy while pregnant. Thoughts and personal experience?
I was one of those people before diagnosis. I still didn’t know until I met with my High Risk OB, she looked at me and said “if you were my sister I would tell you to continue your pregnancy and we can do chemo in the second trimester. Knowing there were some risks with doing chemo while pregnant we decided we were going to continue with the pregnancy and I was going to fight like hell! I found my amazing KACM group and I knew if I had them in my corner with my husband, then I was going to beat this!
What have you learned about yourself since dx?
I am a heck of a lot stronger than I thought I could ever be. Life is so short, there is no reason you can’t do anything that you put your mind to! I never thought I would be informing young women about Breast Cancer, but if it is my path then I will travel it as far as I can!
What do you believe is a common misconception about being diagnosed? Or something that you’d like the general population to know about C.
That it had to be hereditary. I did the genetic testing and I don’t have the genes.
Thoughts on the pink… 
Before diagnosis, I always bought pink for Breast Cancer, thinking I was making a difference! Little did I know that the organization I was donating to in fact did not actually give money or any help to women battling breast cancer. Donate to metavivor.org or the American Cancer Society.
Where are you at in life now? Mentally, physically, emotionally…
I now stay home full time with my girls. Everyday is different, some days I wake up and can get out of bed without pain, some days I can’t get out of bed due to the pain. Pain being from the anti hormone drugs I am on for the next 5 years and menopause as I had my ovaries removed also. I go to a therapist at least every other week for my mental health.
Do you have any lasting side effects- mental, physical, etc.?
My joints ache everyday, but I am actually taking CBD capsules and that has been helping!
Have you noticed any lasting effects on your families and friends?
My family thinks I should just go back to the person I was before diagnosis. However that is not realistic. I am forever changed, I no longer worry about big things, I worry about little things! Is this headache cancer, is this back pain cancer?
Whenever the day comes to travel to the “great beyond”, what do you hope people remember about you?
Honestly hate thinking about this but that I lived life and loved as hard as I could! I made them smile! 🙂
If people take away anything from your story, it would be…
Know your body! Advocate if you feel something isn’t right!