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 Emily Long / Photos taken on location at Hunter Museum of American Art
Janine Atiyeh, Chattanooga
Growing up with three sisters wasn’t always easy. Our bathroom was full of curling irons, hair clips, and Aqua Net. There was no shortage of laughter with my sisters Jennifer, Jayme, and Jenelle. We shared a special bond that only sisters know. As we grew older and moved away, we still remained very close and couldn’t wait to see each other on special occasions and holidays.
In 2005, we faced devastating news. Jayme, who was 36, was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after giving birth to her second child. After undergoing a double mastectomy and multiple courses of chemotherapy, Jayme was declared cancer-free. We were elated until 2009 when she slipped and fell, and a scan revealed her breast cancer had returned. It had metastasized to her bones and liver, but despite facing stage IV metastatic breast cancer, Jayme fought and showed us all strength, grace, and courage. She was determined to form a team and walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, a 60-mile walk. We walked in Philadelphia and celebrated Jayme’s 40th birthday at the finish line. You would have never known the fight she was facing, as she was always upbeat, positive, and never felt sorry for herself. She was an inspiration to all that knew her.
During her final months, we helped her prepare cards and gifts to be given to her children on their birthdays, graduations, and wedding days. In February 2011, we lost our beautiful Jayme. After her death, the void I felt was overwhelming and still hurts every day. I channeled that pain and knew I had to do more.
In her honor, I have participated in 10 Komen 3-Day Walks, covering over 600 miles. I am proud to have raised over $40,000 in her name to support breast cancer. I never walk alone, as I always feel her presence. Every year on February 10, I celebrate Jayme by doing the things she loved, such as getting a massage or seeing a good movie. I even got a foot tattoo. She asked us all to live our life to the fullest, and most importantly, let others know how much you love them every day. I will always feel her presence in my life and will honor her in every way I can.