CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Cindy Summers says she knows what it feels like to battle cancer without a support system nearby, that's why she's dedicated her energy to lending a helping hand to other women.
At the age of 37, Cindy says she found a lump but was told everything was fine. One year later, in August of 2008, Cindy Summers went back to the doctor to get a mammogram and was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. At the time, her family was stationed in Greenville, NC.
Like any military wife, the Summers' have moved around a lot. She says because of that, she didn't have close friends in the area or know where to find resources while she was going through an aggressive treatment regimen of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and radiation at East Carolina University.
With such a gloomy diagnosis, Cindy admits there was a time where she didn't know if it was going to be OK. She rallied her children close and began homeschooling her two youngest children, not knowing how much time she had left with them.
When Cindy got better, she wanted to give back, so she started Cindy's Hope Chest in February of 2010.
Six years after defeating cancer, Cindy's Hope Chest is her full time job. Summers' goal is to be an advocate for women who need help finding resources, or might just need a friend.
Now, the Summers' live in Charlotte and Cindy says her phone rings like crazy.
Her organization has grown through word of mouth and through it, she says, she has made lifelong friends. She makes care baskets with things she found helpful while going through treatment, but Summers says the baskets are more of an ice breaker. Her real passion is trying to meet a woman's individual needs. She says she tries to do everything she wished she had while she was going through her battle, "it heals your soul to have someone there for you."
Some women, Cindy says, need someone to help clean their house, some need help with bills, while others just need support. She spends her days going to doctor's visits, holding hands, and helping women stay positive through their battle.
Summers' efforts have not gone unnoticed. Cindy won a car to help with her organization through Toyota's 100 Cars for Good campaign. She also appeared on the Lifetime television show 'Army Wives' where they gave her a $5,000 check to help her spread hope.
One of the women Cindy's Hope Chest has impacted, Amy Hosier, nominated Cindy to be featured as a Survivor of the Month and praises Cindy for her efforts. Hosier wrote, "Her personal support has been nothing less than incredible. She's arranged meals, house cleanings, she's waited with me at appointments, was waiting with my family during my double mastectomy surgery at the hospital, and so much more. To have another woman who has also battled so willing to be there for you...well, it's incredible."
Cindy says she feels blessed to walk alongside women through the toughest part of their lives.