Stage4Mom: Viki Zarkin and Her Fight Against Breast Cancer
This past December, I was doing some last minute Christmas shopping with my mom. With our arms full of little white gift bags stuffed with tissue (would you like that gift-wrapped, mam?) and brown paper bags full of treats and goodies for our loved ones, we heaved our haul into one final shop: a womens lingerie store (though, from the inside, it didn’t exactly scream Victoria’s Secret).
“Do you sell the t-shirts with the breast forms?” my mom asked the smiling woman at the counter. They did. She was asking for my grandmother, a breast cancer survivor of so long that I had forgotten she even had breast cancer until coming into this shop. Until my mom asked for the t-shirts with the breast forms. Because unless it’s affecting us directly, it’s sometimes hard to step out of our little bubble and realize that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Because unless it has to do with our weekend plans, dealing with our Devil Wears Prada boss, or the number of likes we got on our last Instagram post, breast cancer is not really on our minds. Until it is.
For Viki Zarkin of Harrisburg, PA—a mother, wife, daughter, and sister—it is. When Viki, author of the blog, Stage4Mom, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, her doctors had little hope and basically told her to, “go home and die.”
That was 4 years ago.
Obviously Viki didn’t go home to die. She went home to fight.
In 2011, following her diagnosis, Viki started Stage4Mom and Viki started writing.
“I feel like I have something to share with mothers out there. Mothers that are juggling their illnesses but still have their family responsibilities. We still need to get our daughters to gymnastics and our sons to soccer. There is homework every night, lunches to make, bedtime stories to read. There are wounds to heal and tears to dry.”
And she does have something to share with mothers out there, breast cancer fighters out there, women out there—and for that matter, humans out there. Viki writes with a deep and questing honesty that sometimes takes your breath away when you consider not only the reality of her journey, but the universal truth in her words.
“The little things in life—like the air we breathe, the change of seasons, the beauty of a butterfly flying free—I want to enjoy those things every day” she writes, “I want to smell the good smells and the bad smells. I don’t want to miss a thing. I love life. I love my family. I love my friends. And I love the little things.”
This past October, the mother of two, took her fight against breast cancer even farther when she rallied for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and devoted her time and efforts to Play for P.I.N.K., a national organization that donates 100% of the funds they raise to breast cancer research.
“One thing led to another, and with lots of elbow grease, my little town of Harrisburg and I raised close to $100,000 for Play for P.I.N.K.,” writes Viki, who had no previous experience in fundraising on this scale before. “Who’d have thought that 5-foot-me could be such a large part of something so groundbreaking?”
The letters in P.I.N.K. stand for Prevention, Immediate Diagnosis, New Technology, and Knowledge. The organization, sponsored by Bloomberg, Estèe Lauder, and Wilson has raised $38.5 million to date. “For someone like me, that’s who it’s going to benefit, because someone like me who’s still on chemo, I need that research and thousands of others like me, we need that research,” said Viki in a Local 21 News interview.
Viki is alive today because she is a fighter. Because when her doctor’s told her to “go home and die,” she said, “no, this is not going to work for me.” Viki is alive today because she chose an attitude instead of a diagnosis.
But Viki’s fight is not over.
1 in 8 women’s fight is not over.
To support Play for P.I.N.K., click HERE.
To learn more about Viki Zarkin, check out Stage4Mom by clicking HERE.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: REANNE DERKSON
I am a writer from Regina, SK, with the heart of a traveler and an entrepreneurial spirit. After graduating from the University of Victoria’s Fine Arts Writing Program, I spent two wild years working for a startup in Vancouver, BC, where I learned the in’s and out’s of startup life and added some business jargon to my ever-growing lexicon. Today, I am a freelancer, writing my way into the world, seeking out anything and everything that lights my fire and inspires me. I have been previously published by Live Young and Free Magazine, Penduline Press Literary Journal, Gravel: a literary magazine, Elite Daily, The Martlet, This Side of West: an anthology of deep and meaningfuls, and more.
To read more of my work, please visit www.reannederkson.com
Read more about and from the author: Reanne’s WiLab Profile