Parker County Today April 2017 - Page 13

C ourageous M om — AMANDA STEVENS Cancer Couldn’t Take The Cowgirl Off The Horse BY MELISSA MOORMAN A “It was one of the best nights of my life. It was very emotional and special,” she said. Amanda returned to the cutting competition in 2015 to compete a second time. She said she is a different person now, after her diagnosis, treatment and positive outcome as a cancer survivor. She said the biggest change is in how she views every day.  “I am grateful for every moment now,” she said. How precious every moment is! I’m so grateful that I can be here to raise my children. It’s a gift to be able to appreci- ate how precious life is.” manda Stevens found the lump that would change her life while breastfeeding her 5-month-old daugh- ter, Violet, in February of 2014. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, the mother of two needed an echo- cardiogram to begin the chemotherapy treatments that would ultimately save her life, but was having difficulties with her insurance company getting the necessary test scheduled. Her doctor at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders suggested she call Careity Foundation to see if they could help. Enter Careity Foundation co-founder Lyn Walsh. Not only did Careity help her get the test scheduled, the foun- dation paid for it, and for her first round of chemotherapy to battle the aggressive triple-negative breast cancer Amanda had been diagnosed with.  She said of Careity: “They were so supportive and brought me such peace of mind at such a scary time. They have become wonderfully supportive and great friends to myself and family. I can’t express how grateful I am. At my time of need they were there for me.” She completed 16 rounds of chemotherapy over a 6-month period, then had a double mastectomy. Her treatment also included 33 rounds of radiation. Multiple surgeries followed including a hysterectomy, reconstruc- tion and repair from a deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) clot. “It was quite a journey over the last three years,” she said. Happily, on Oct. 6, 2014, doctors declared her cancer-free. Throughout her treatment, this cowgirl turned to her family and her horses for solace. Amanda and her husband Steve own Stevens Natural Horsemanship in Weatherford and have for the past eight years trained horses, given horse clinics and taught horsemanship to countless riders. Steve was a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for 12 years and competed as a saddle bronc rider. Even while reeling from the worst of her chemotherapy treatments, Amanda rode horses every day, sometimes for as little as 5 minutes, she said. “The horses were a huge part of my recovery. Horses were an escape for me. It made me feel stronger and gave me peace,” noted Stevens.  Only six weeks after her double mastectomy she was on her horse trying something for the first time at the Careity Foundation Celebrity Cutting Event, held each year as part of the National Cutting Horse Association’s Futurity in December. She trained for a few weeks with Rick and Shelly Mowery before competing. 11