Every breast cancer survivor has a reason to celebrate. Just one or two or three years without cancer is a feat in and of itself, and every day spent alive and well is a gift. But perhaps one woman has more reason to celebrate than most. After a full 50 years of not having breast cancer, she’s enjoying life in a way she thought might never be possible.
When Eileen Ivory found a lump in her breast and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, she was a 28-year-old mother of four children, all under the age of five. Her youngest son, Mike, was just a tiny baby at the time. She stayed in the hospital for a month with her husband, Dan, at her side, as she underwent and recovered from a radical mastectomy and reconstruction.
Now 78-year-old Eileen has spent a full 50 years cancer-free, and her friends and family wanted to congratulate her in a special way. So they threw her a party in her honor and managed to keep the event a secret up until the very moment Eileen walked in the door. Pat, one of her sons, even came all the way to Bloomington, Minnesota, from Florida to join in the festivities.
“God is good,” says Eileen, thankful for all the people in her life who showed up to make her 50-years-cancer-free celebration a success.
Many in Eileen’s family have suffered from cancer, including her mother, sister, and two nieces. But Eileen has a message for the women who feel like giving up hope when they’re in a position like she once was in:
“You will survive,” says Eileen, “And don’t give up hope, because here I am.”
Check out the video below to see the surprise on Eileen’s face as the doors open and she sees everyone gathered at a party just for her!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?