We love to recognize strong women who continue to fight. Inspired by the strength of her own mother who overcame breast cancer, D’Andra Simmons continues to encourage women to stay strong, take charge of their health and wellness through a combination of allopathic and complementary medicine, and find their own happiness through identifying what feeds their soul. Keri Whitehead, a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant, is a prime example of a resilient woman that we admire and would like to acknowledge this month. She has been struggling with breast cancer for the past 10 years, raising a 13-year old daughter, and still managing to live a happy life. She is a fighter, first and foremost and a woman who has proven time and again that sheer will and determination to live makes a difference in a person’s outcome when diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Keri is primarily inspired by her daughter, Kassi, because “being her mom makes every horrible ‘treatment’ moment worth it.” She is also moved by her will to keep living life even though “sometimes living takes a little extra effort…but it’s all worth it.” She has a Facebook page dedicated to her fight called Keri’s War, which has been a way for her to turn her battle into something bigger and inspire people to stay strong. She has literally created a team that is fighting with her and is invested in her success in overcoming breast cancer. It is their fight too and she is not alone in her journey.
Follow Keri's War: https://www.facebook.com/Keris-War-161437170534198/
Happiness to Keri is her retired life. “Having served my country for 21.5 years (8 of that fighting cancer) I feel I have earned my retired life and all that it has worked out to be. Raising my daughter and going to doctors’ appointments are my new normal. A normal that is AMAZING! Almost a decade of cancer treatments has left me exhausted, all day, every day. Being able to prioritize my life and trim it down to the two most important things, kiddo and health, have allowed me to get through each day without tears of exhaustion. Retirement has also afforded me the opportunity to accomplish things that I want to do and not worry so much about and not wasting energy on things I don’t want to do…this makes for a very happy cancer patient.” We love that Keri is now able to focus on the things in her life that matter most to her. This is the silver lining in her on going cancer battle.
Fighting cancer and being a single mother is a constant battle for Keri. She describes that, “all nights are hard…some more than others. The wee hours of the night…the lonely hours just before dawn. It is in these moments when you realize that although you have a wonderful support system…in that moment…you’re all alone. In those moments there is no one to hold you when you hurt, snuggle with you when you can’t sleep, or comfort you when you are lonely and sad…no one to offer emotional or physical intimacy and the fear that no one ever will. Let’s be honest. Asking someone to date you when you have cancer is asking someone to unpack a huge piece of baggage. I have been doing this for almost a decade…this baggage is getting heavy.” Although she has these lonely nights, Keri finds positivity in her mornings. “Every day that I get to wake up and live another day…is a good morning. It is in the new light of dawn that I pick myself up, dust myself of and say, ‘I got this!’ and I fight another day.”
Keri is a prime example of a fighter, so we asked her what she thinks it takes to be one. She responded, “Dig in your heels and realize that no amount of worry is going to change your circumstances. Throw yourself a little pity party if it makes you feel better. Cry yourself to sleep if you must…but when you awake…put your big girl panties on and roll with it.” She believes, “to be able to fight, you must find inspiration in yourself.”
As an independent and strong woman, Keri will continue to inspire us through her battle! We stand with her. We have and always will be huge fans of Keri and her will to live and her ability to see the positive in the challenges she faces each day.
I met Keri Whitehead about 7 years ago, when I first started dating my husband, USAF M.Sgt. Retired, Jeremy Lock. He was enlisted with Keri and they were both combat photojournalists. Jeremy had covered her story, Keri’s War, as a personal project that was picked up from local to international news organizations, for its raw and very real glimpse into the struggle of an enlisted USAF female who was still trying to pursue her career and undergo breast cancer treatment, while raising a small daughter. Keri is like a member of the extended Lock family, and my respect for her has grown throughout the years, as I have watched her sheer determination to live and pursue her life dreams in the face of such a seemingly unsurmountable obstacle. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I felt a special draw to Keri’s struggle and have cheered her on from the sidelines and from reports my husband has relayed regarding her treatment and outcomes over the years. I encourage everyone to go onto the Keri’s War Facebook page and join her in her struggle and cheer her on to a complete and successful recovery.
I am a 41-year old, retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant, single parent and cancer fighter. I have a beautiful, opinionated and very artistic 13-year old, 3 dogs and one bunny rabbit to keep me busy. After serving my country for more than two decades I have settled into a life of retired bliss. I am originally from a little town in Northern California but have settled into the Charleston, South Carolina, area to enjoy retired life. I am a Cali girl by birth, but a Carolina girl at heart. When I am not up to my ears in single parent life or participating in a battle against cancer, I occupy myself with checking things off my bucket list. My most recent check marks include a week in Cape Cod hunting lighthouses, and New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Next official item is a trip to Ireland and Scotland…not in the works just yet, but hopefully soon. My hobbies are making lucky bamboo floral arrangements, learning home improvement skills, walking shelter dogs when I feel up to it, and spending time with family and friends. My goal in life…to give my daughter a lifetime worth of memories in whatever time I have left.