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Nikki Garland – 2018 Project Pink Model
Nikki Garland is an English teacher at Indianapolis Public Schools. She is the mother of 2 sons, Chad and Chase, and has two toy poodles, Chloe and Chai. She loves travelling abroad, reading, writing and cooking. She wants to be a project pink model to continue providing hope for those fighting breast cancer. Last year, Nikki was a 2017 Komen Central Indiana Race Ambassador.
On June 1, Nikki received the phone call that confirmed her worst fears. She had breast cancer. She suddenly fell into panic mode. Nikki was already widowed and a mother of two children, and now a breast cancer survivor.
Initially, she didn’t share her diagnosis with anyone. It wasn’t until three days before her first surgery that she told her oldest son, who was senior in high school at the time, about the battle she was facing. When it came to telling her youngest son, she spared the details and just told him that she was sick and needed surgery.
Nikki had four breast cancer-related surgeries; luckily no chemotherapy or radiation treatments were necessary. She did not have to have a bilateral mastectomy because there was no cancer found in her left breast. Throughout her journey, Nikki struggled with survivor guilt, especially when thinking about her best friend who died from breast cancer in 2012.
She begged her doctors to get her back to work before the beginning of the school year because in 16 years she had never missed the first day. For the first and only time, she missed the first six weeks of school so she could fully recover. Other surgeries were scheduled over breaks.
Nikki says going through this cancer journey was very difficult because she didn’t want to burden people with her diagnosis, especially her close friend who had just fought stomach cancer. She was by her side throughout Nikki’s journey, even when Nikki didn’t necessarily want to worry her. Her cousin Cynthia was also a fortress and a source of strength during this time. She eventually told some members of her church community. The few members of her church that she did tell coincidentally had all battled cancer in their lifetimes. This allowed Nikki to connect with her community on a deeper level and strengthen relationships through these shared experiences.
Nikki says, “Cancer is not a death sentence. The Lord works all things out for good; even something as undesirable as cancer. He allowed me to have this experience for a reason and in the words of John Piper, I don’t want to ‘waste my cancer.’ I simply want to use my story to glorify God and provide hope to others. There is value in the valley. Breast cancer taught me how to ‘be still’ and know that He is God!”
Favorite vacation spot: Paris, France
Favorite watering hole in Indy: Coatcheck Coffee
Dream car: Lexus LC 500
Favorite color: Pink!
Random fact: She is classically trained in ballet and taught it for six years.
Other fun facts: She will be teaching at Peking University in Beijing over the summer!