The diagnosis was shocking: stage three breast cancer. Cati Stone was thirty-five, healthy, with no family history of breast cancer. As she listened to her treatment plan that fateful day in 2010—Herceptin treatments, sixteen rounds of chemotherapy over five months, nearly seven weeks of daily radiation, a mastectomy—she thought: Is this really happening? She had a husband, a baby daughter, and a new job as a lawyer with a Fortune 500 company. Her life was taking off. And yet it was also being threatened by an aggressive cancer.
It was time, Stone says, to fight. She kept a positive attitude and worked full-time throughout her treatment (“everyone at the office only knew me as bald,” she laughs). She threw herself into motherhood, refusing to consider the possibility she wouldn’t see her daughter grow up. And she used her legal know-how to help needy cancer patients, volunteering with the Cancer Legal Line. When the nonprofit asked if she’d come on full-time in 2012, Stone took the leap. “It was risky to leave a lucrative career and work for free,” she says. “But it was a risk that really paid off.”
Indeed. In 2013, the Greater Atlanta Affiliate of Susan G. Komen offered Stone its executive director position, and she has since changed the organization from top to bottom, placing a special emphasis on helping local women receive breast-health services they otherwise couldn’t afford. She also spearheads fundraising efforts for national breast-cancer research, a duty that’s highly personal to her. “Herceptin was developed with funding from Komen,” Stone says. “I wouldn’t have survived without it.”
Words of Wisdom