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stoke the fire within book




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Kicking Cancer's #!@*!#@

Laurie Roberts
Lauri Roberts

In early 2009 I learned about an Administrative Assistant at the University of Notre Dame who is a remarkable inspiration when it comes to stoking the fire within.


Lauri Roberts was 39 years old in August of 2007 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Four days before she was diagnosed, her best friend, Renae Johnson, was told she had breast cancer.


The breast cancer stoked the fire within Lauri and Renae. Renae issued this promise to it: "I'll kick your *#!*."


Lauri went into the battle with both guns blazing too. Lauri stared the most intense chemo's in the face and said, "Bring it on." On her 40th birthday she took the last of what's called 'the Red Devil,' the biggest gun you can get in treatment. During all of this she rarely missed work at the Department of Economics and Policy Studies at Notre Dame.


"I have the best boss in the world," she said in talking about Jennifer Warlick. "She took off the day from work when I had my first eight hour surgery," Lauri said. "She was there all day. Then, when I came back to work she bought a memory foam cot so I could rest on it during lunch."


Because of her determination, the only time they had to hire a Team was during the days around her surgery time. During chemo and everything else, Lauri was back on the job. At lunch she would have soup and then nap.


Attitude is so critical, especially in today's world. Her parents, Gene and Judy Montgomery of Edwardsburg, Michigan, had emphasized positive attitude when they were raising her.


"My mother and father both preached 'negative breathes more negative,'" she said. "They always said you have to find something positive in everything. I owe much of my recovery, and almost all of my positive outlook to them."


I talked with Lauri's mother Judy about what it is like when your grown daughter is diagnosed with breast cancer. Her answer was quick. "I turned it over to the Lord," she said. Judy said she had a firm grip of what she could control and couldn't control. What she could control was taking care of her grandchildren and getting them to school.


"She also sent "save the date" prayer cards with a little pink pin and included both our names and surgery dates, and sent pink socks to my girlfriends to wear," said Lauri. "She showed no chinks in the armor. No tears. It was 'Let's do this.' That was very helpful to me."


Things that she could control . . .


"I never saw either of my parents despair when they heard the news," said Lauri. "Their attitude was, 'A little challenge, but you will get through this, and we will help.'"


Her father, Gene, drove her to and from work every day for six months during chemo. From her home in Edwardsburg, MI to Notre Dame was at least 30 minutes each way, more in the winter. "I treasure those times in the car talking with my father," said Lauri. "I grew to love my mornings with him. I miss our coffee talk."


Positive experiences come out of negatives...


"My girl friends hired a housecleaner for six months," she said. "People came out of the woodwork to help."


Lauri has battled hard, and her sun is shining brightly in this harsh winter. "I have excellent prognosis," she said. Her best friend Renae continues to "kick its' @*#!" too! Both are great examples of locking your jaw and taking dead aim on challenges!


"We didn't realize what we had before all of this," Lauri said of her husband Kelly and their two children. "This has made my family stronger. During all of it my husband wrote something on the dry-erase board in our house. It was 'Find Something Happy in Every Day.' Something! And we did.

"This whole thing has changed me. It has made me . . . . . so grateful!"

-- Lauri Roberts

If you would like to email Lauri and congratulate her for stoking the fire within, you can email


- Charlie Adams, Motivational Speaker
574 807 2279 || Email Charlie