“What a blessing!” Now that’s a sentiment that is not often heard after someone has struggled with cancer not once, not twice, not even three times, but a total of five times before hearing the words, cancerfree. Yet that’s exactly what Randi Lincoln, senior sales director for Mary Kay, and the founder of two local networking groups (Georgetown Plus Innovation Networking and Exit 25 Networking) said, during an interview.
Randi’s story journey with cancer began at the age of 14 when she discovered a mole on her upper right breast. The mole was removed as well as a lump that was found; both were breast cancer. When she was a labor and delivery nurse in her early 20s, the breast cancer returned.
“I would go on my lunch hour and have radiation and then return to labor and delivery,” Lincoln said. “I didn’t tell anyone what was going on because I just wanted to be normal. If there’s anything I’ve found out it’s this, when you’re dealing with something like cancer, you just want to be normal.”
Just a couple years later, Randi discovered another lump, which led to another surgery followed by more radiation. “By this time I’m losing my hair – I mean all of my hair and it was a normal occurrence for me,” she says. “I never thought about cancer as life threatening, I just thought, okay I’ve got cancer – what do we do now?”
After a bout with cancer in her 60s, Randi’s mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2008, when she was 80. “My sister and I went to Toledo immediately to talk to the surgeon. It was then I learned my sister and her daughter both had previously undergone a hysterectomy because of uterine cancer. By this time, I am pretty alarmed because my brother also had cancer several years ago. I know something is going on.”
They were referred to a genetic oncologist at the University of Toledo where Randi’s mother immediately went into surgery for stage four uterine cancer.
During this time period, Randi began feeling as if something was wrong physically. “My body was telling me something was not right, and I think it’s so important to listen to our body.” The only symptom – a reappearing large lump on the side of her neck; a lump her family physician concluded was nothing to worry about. Randi insisted on an ultrasound. The results were sent to Toledo. The next day, she was undergoing surgery to remove an incredibly large cancerous thyroid tumor as well as several lymph nodes.
When the results came back from the genetic study, it affirmed a positive genetic issue with both colon cancer and uterine cancer. Randi was scheduled for a radical mastectomy and hysterectomy, but insurance denied the mastectomy. All this was happening while Randi’s mother was recuperating. Two years later, in 2010, her mother succumbed to the cancer.
Recently, Randi had a 4-inch spot removed from her back and once again it was cancer. More surgeries followed. This summer, Randi received some amazing news – an email from Toledo stating she was “all clear.” “It was the first time in my life someone actually told me I was all clear of cancer. It’s a real celebration for me.”
Randi’s journey with cancer has been a real inspiration for many women struggling with the diagnosis.
“I truly believe cancer has given me some opportunities that I otherwise would not have experienced. God’s given me a purpose and I still don’t know what that is, but if helping one person is it, then that’s what I’ll do. The beauty of this is that I can do beauty makeovers on women with cancer; I can show them how to put their eyelashes on, and how to match their hair color. I can offer them hope, and If you can give hope to just one person, why wouldn’t you do that?”
Even though Randi is “all clear” at this time, her journey with cancer continues. “I know I may go through cancer again; I know it’s in there and if my blood levels go crazy or if I eat something that triggers it to release, I will go through cancer again,” she says. “Still, cancer has been a good thing; it’s introduced me to people and opportunities I would never have had and now I can help others walk this same journey. What a blessing.”