Motivating Stories from Local Women
Every woman has a story to tell, and no two stories are alike. Meet the women who have persevered through challenges and tribulations and come out the other side stronger than ever. These unique individuals have seen their fair share of adversity but continue to inspire those around them with the lessons they have learned and their love of life. Read on for a truly motivating story by a woman who experienced them firsthand.
Photography by Rich Smith / Photos taken on location at Hotel Indigo
Deanna Duncan, Signal Mountain
At 43, I almost had it all. I was the CEO of my own hospice company with supportive friends and colleagues, a husband, and two sons who were 6 and 9 years old. I looked forward to the day I could hire more doctors and cut my long hours down.
“You are not aging well, maybe hire a trainer,” my then-husband commented as I struggled to get dressed. My back had been hurting for months, and now I was limping. Routine exams followed. “Dr. Duncan, you have a tiny spot on your mammogram, but it’s so small there’s a 98% cure rate if it’s cancer,” the radiologist said. The bone pain that kept moving around in my back suddenly made sense. Scans revealed cancer eating my bones from my skull to a broken hip. My spine crumbled so much that I stood at 5’10” instead of my usual 6 feet.
“Do. Not. Tell. Anyone,” I said to my husband and every doctor I saw. “I am the face of an over-leveraged new business. We could lose everything if I stop getting referrals!” I feared my family would have nothing when I died in a few years. I came home that night to a large gathering. Referrals dropped as the community learned that I had Stage IV breast cancer. Money flew out the door while I went for daily radiation and planned little boys’ birthday parties.
Friends stepped in – too many angels to name here. They brought dinner almost every night, babysat the boys, paid our bills, and my doctor friends covered for me and helped me sell my company. My brother-in-law even took me to chemo every three weeks for six years. Throughout my struggle, I learned to let go of toxic relationships and expectations of how life should look. Through the newly formed Dr. Deanna Duncan Foundation, I want to share my hope and knowledge of cancer support options with every new cancer diagnosis in the Chattanooga area.
I was told I would be on chemo for life, but after seven years of no signs of active disease, I know that miracles do happen. At 50, I really can say now that I have it all, but my definition has changed. I am healthy, joyful, full of gratitude, and living in peace and harmony with my beautiful teenage boys.