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.
Photo by Emily Pérez Long / Photos taken on location at Common House
Stacy Martin, Hixson
I relocated to Chattanooga in April 2018 for my job. I intentionally bought a house so I could put down roots and build community. Little did I know how important those choices would become. Less than a year later, I learned that I had a genetic mutation called CDH1. It gave me an 80% chance of getting gastric cancer and a 60% chance of getting breast cancer. Researchers estimate it occurs in about 1 in every 9 million people, and I wasn’t sure what to do with my newfound knowledge or what my options were.
I started at the Mayo Clinic with initial assessments. While I was there, a counselor told me about a study at the National Institutes of Health. That’s where I found a lot of answers, a community of fellow patients, and the solution to my situation. Although it was the biggest and scariest decision I have ever had to make, I decided to prophylactically have my stomach removed. I found out later when they were reviewing the pathology that they found 17 spots of cancer in my stomach, and it immediately validated that I made the right decision.
Having stomach surgery led to a lot of changes in my life. I now have to eat small meals or snacks every two to three hours. Taking care of myself has become non-negotiable. I have to listen to my body and give it what it needs, when it needs it. Fast forward four surgeries and two years later, I am closing the surgery/recovery/repeat chapter and looking forward to what’s coming next. I have been recently cleared of everything and get to move on with my life, whatever I choose to make it.
Since my diagnosis, things have become very clear, and I can easily identify what is important and what is no longer worth my attention. I choose to spend my time sharing my story with people. I have become an advocate and like using my voice locally and nationally for research, funding, and genetic testing. I also started a company, Seahorse Snacks, so I can share my love of food and my story with the world!
I am grateful that I learned about my diagnosis when I did, and I was fortunate to have access to world-class healthcare and minimal complications. I have fought so hard for my life, and I fully intend to make the most of it. Even though this was not an easy journey, I have learned so much and truly feel that my life is better and more fulfilling today. I am alive and thriving, and there aren’t any limits to the things I can do.
“I have fought so hard for my life, and I fully intend to make the most of it.”