If there is one thing that Amber Preston wants to impress on people, it’s that cancer does not discriminate.
“The message that is broadcasted all over is about breast cancer in women 40 and over. I had no family history. Cancer does not discriminate. Our country has a skewed perception of breast cancer and who is at risk. Awareness is the first step in combating that perception.”
In 2011, Amber joined the Race for the Cure for the first time. Just three years later, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple-Positive Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. She was 28 years old. At the time, she felt healthier than she had in her entire life.
Susan G. Komen® Columbus is thrilled to announce that on the fifth anniversary of her first Race, Amber Preston will be participating in the 2016 Race for the Cure as an Honorary Race Chair.
But one thing this bubbly, ambitious survivor continues to emphasize is that life does not stop for cancer. She is a Medical Aesthetician for Columbus Aesthetic & Plastic Surgery. And if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she is a small business owner and makeup artist at Glam Squad 614. Nothing, including Amber’s double mastectomy, can slow her down. In fact, the very next weekend after her surgery she was working to ensure that a client’s wedding would go off without a hitch.
Though we are in awe of Amber’s dedication to her craft (and the fact that she gets to work with clients such as Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas), we are even more enamored with the sweet little girl in all of her pictures—the love of her life and her motivation all wrapped into one is her 5-year-old daughter, Grace.
“She really is the reason that I do all of this.”
Amber feels lucky to have had such an amazing support system of family and friends that have stood beside her throughout her experience with cancer. But she knows that isn’t always the case.
“I have concern about all those young women who are blindsided by a young diagnosis and don’t have an incredible support system. They are young in their careers, young parents, minorities and immigrants that already struggle financially, and this burden becomes exponentially more difficult. Cancer is no respecter of person so financial stress becomes another tremendous obstacle in addition to battling for one’s life.”
One very important part of Amber’s support system is her relationship with her Breast Friends. She and 13 other young survivors have become life-long friends after meeting as a result of being diagnosed. Though they are spread throughout the country, Amber and her “breasties” are constantly in contact through social media and text. Those that are in town try to meet once a month, and those that are not try to meet several times a year. The support they have been able to offer one another has been invaluable.
“They were such a godsend. We do talk a lot about cancer. We answer each other’s questions, and we lean on each other. But it’s so much more than that. We are young, we are outgoing, and we are experiencing life. And we are together through all of it.”
Even though they spend a lot of time laughing together, Amber was particularly grateful to have them when things were tough.
When Amber was diagnosed last year, she and her boyfriend made the decision to join the battle against breast cancer as a married couple. After a private ceremony in Punta Cana, they returned home to 16 chemotherapy treatments, 32 radiation treatments and more. Together, they believed they would make it through this. But things slowly changed, and Amber and her husband ultimately separated.
“The hardest part of this journey was losing my person—not just the marriage itself and the life we built together with our kids, but the person who vowed to do life with me”
Another of her Breast Friends had recently gone through a similar experience, and Amber couldn’t have been more grateful for her support at the time.
A constant ray of light even in the darkest of moments, Amber has made peace and continues to look forward to a bright future with Grace.
“You can’t carry around that bitterness. That’s one thing you learn through this.”
And bitter is definitely one thing Amber is not. She continues to make the most of each and every day, and tries to have as many “You Only Live Once” moments as she possibly can. She finishes treatment at the Bing Cancer Center in February, and we cannot wait to celebrate with her at the Komen Columbus Race for the Cure.
Join Amber and the rest of our fabulous Honorary Race Chairs at the Race on Saturday, May 14. Register today and begin your fundraising.