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Breast cancer survivor creates sanctuary for others going through the cancer journey

Cancer is a word you hear and it makes you think the worst, but its just that; a word, not a sentence.

Posted: Sep 24, 2019 11:38 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- Cancer is a word you hear and it makes you think the worst, but it's just that; a word, not a sentence.

For those who have been affected, whether it's you personally or a friend or family member, the journey looks a little different.

One Lafayette woman wants to make the journey a little easier and a little more peaceful.

Her name is Vicki Gillam and she wants to share her cancer sanctuary with anybody who just needs a minute to reflect.

"You don't know if you are going to live or die," said 53-year-old Gillam. "I had to go and tell my mom I had breast cancer."

Gillam was diagnosed with breast cancer in Oct. 2018.

"I've been getting mammograms for over 20 something years now and I missed one mammogram and when I went in is when I found the 5 centimeter mass," said Gillam.

The cancerous mass resulted in a double mastectomy.

"My world has changed," said Gillam. "I will never be the same person I used to be."

Gillam refused to be a victim.

"You have good days," said Gillam. "You have bad days, but you just don't feel you feel like the same you at all."

That's how Gillam knew she needed the cancer sanctuary.

"Once I step in there, I have people that are battling this battle with me and I have loved ones we have lost," said Gillam.

Gillam said her family has been battling cancer her entire life. She has stepping stones in the sanctuary that represents just one type of cancer each sister, aunt and uncle have fought.

It serves as a reminder to look for the good even in the darkest times of life.

"I would love for everybody that has battled with cancer or has cancer to be able to have their own little sanctuary," said Gillam.

It is a space used to be upset, to be sad, to laugh to express whatever emotions.

This safe haven was built in two months with the help of Vicki's grandson.

"I know this means a lot to her," said Wallace Smith. "I'm proud to help her with it."

It's something Vicki wants to share with community members who have been affected by cancer.

"I just I hope it can help other people," said Gillam. "It's been therapy for me. It really has been."

If you or a loved one would like to use the sanctuary please email: jordan.burrows@wlfi.com.

News 18 will be highlighting breast cancer awareness each Tuesday in October.

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