As summer transitions into fall, autumn leaves and cool breezes indicate that October has arrived. Amongst pumpkins and Halloween decorations are pink ribbons that adorn any and everything. Pink ribbons signify that October is not only the month for fall festivities but for breast cancer awareness. During October, businesses and organizations promote breast cancer awareness and share personal stories in support of research, victims and survivors.
Linda Wells is one of millions of breast-cancer survivors who didn’t let a life-threatening disease defeat her. During her battle, Linda found strength unexpectedly from a young bull-riding star and she continues to share her knowledge and inspiration.
In April 2010, breast-cancer survivor Linda Wells’ life changed when she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, which is an aggressive type of breast cancer that invades breast tissue and spreads to lymph nodes.
In response to the diagnosis, Linda had a lumpectomy and the cancerous lymph node removed. The Burke, Va., resident underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. With the support of her family, Linda got through her diagnosis and treatments. Linda’s passion for Professional Bull Riding (PBR) also provided her with strength for her fight.
Linda became a fan of professional bull riding about three years ago when she came across a television show that featured celebrity bull riding. As she went from an unassuming viewer to PBR enthusiast, she followed and admired bull-riding star J.B. Mauney.
J.B. Mauney is a talented professional bull rider from North Carolina whose philosophy is “one jump at a time,” which Linda adopted as her mantra for enduring her treatments and staying strong.
“There was something special about that kid from North Carolina,” Linda told PBR. “When he made the whistle and he grinned and he held that finger up in the air and his swagger as he walked out of the arena, I just knew he was someone special, but little did I know at that time how much he would really mean to me.”
Halfway through chemotherapy, Linda had the pleasure of meeting Mauney at a bull-riding competition in North Carolina. She shared with Mauney how “one jump at a time” was her inspiration for battling cancer.
Because Linda’s perseverance and strength left an impact on Mauney and PBR, she leads PBR’s breast cancer awareness initiatives. Her inspirational story is the spotlight for PBR and Wrangler Western Wear’s “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” campaign. PBR fans and athletes support the campaign by wearing pink at bull-riding events in October. The campaign has raised more than $9.75 million.
One year after her diagnosis, Linda remains cancer-free. She stays committed to breast cancer awareness by volunteering at the non-profit organization Life with Cancer in Fairfax, Va. As a sponsor for the organization, she helps other women who are battling cancer at support groups and free informative classes.
“Nobody can understand what you’re going through unless they’ve been through it,” Linda told The Connection. “It’s a place you can go when you’re going through it, to talk to people who have been there and done that that are willing to give you honest answers. Once you’ve been through it you can be there for other people who are just starting their journey.”
She continually attends breast-cancer seminars and stays informed. She is not only a survivor but an inspiration for anyone battling a life-threatening disease. This October, your organization or business can support breast cancer awareness by getting involved, sharing stories and thinking pink!