TEXAS (NBC News) — One year ago, Jennifer Beyer of Haslet found a lump in her breast during a self-examination. Then tests confirmed her worst fear.
“Breast cancer,” Beyer said. “When you hear those words, ah, your life changes.”
From mammogram to diagnosis, to treatments and surgeries; Beyer saved every piece of paper. “Everything I did is documented,” Beyer said. “I think I just realized this was going to be big.”
She didn’t save all those documents to put in a ‘cancer’ file. She saved them to make a dress. Beyer cut the pieces of paper in the shape of flower petals, and dyed them different shades of pink. They became the fabric for her dress.
“I look at the dress and I’m overwhelmed with what the papers say,” Beyer said. “But I’m even more overwhelmed by the feeling I get because I know what happened on those days, and what happened was my friends and family gathered around me and refused to let me feel pain.”
Beyer has photos with her support system, dressed in superhero outfits, laughing their way through cancer treatments and surgeries.
“From day 1, Jennifer’s attitude was just incredible,” Dr. Steven Mapula, a reconstruction surgeon with JPS Health Network said. “She came in with the mentality that she was going to beat this.”
“She started collecting all of her paperwork. She started using it as fuel for her fire,” Mapula said. “And every piece of that dress was another step forward, right? It was a step forward.”
Fast forward to one year after her diagnosis. This Thanksgiving, Beyer says she has a lot to be thankful for.
“I will miss the last year of my life. I will miss it because it was magical. I know that sounds really weird, but sometimes it takes something really scary to make magic,” Beyer said. “That dress tells me you can fight and you can win.”