Love Local, Newburyport:

Hi, my name is Alivia Collette and I am here tonight to honor an amazing woman who means everything to me – my mom. 

Twelve years ago, our lives took an unexpected turn when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Currently, I am 21 years old, but only being 9 at the time, I remember the day when our lives changed. Our family had this upcoming trip planned for school vacation week, but all of a sudden, mom was “sick” and we could no longer go. 

I remember not being fully aware to the extent of how “sick” my mom was. It was stage one breast cancer that had already spread to her lymph nodes, under her arm, something as small as a tiny hard pebble. As young as 39 at the time, she discovered the cancer from a self exam, but I know, she makes 51 look amazing now. 

One day that will forever stick with me was the day we shaved my mom’s head and it brings up a lot of emotions. As a young girl, it’s hard to see your mom go through something that feels like it’s stripping her of her beauty, her strength. But if there’s one thing about my mom, she is going to kill it no matter what obstacles may seem to be in her way. 

In any circumstance, my family shows up. From something as small as our weekly Sunday dinners, to holding each other’s hand while we cut her hair on our back porch. That support meant everything and I am so glad we were able to give that to her. 

So here’s to you, Mom – my best friend, my role model, and the strongest woman I know. Thank you for showing me that no matter how hard life may get, we can overcome anything. Cheers to celebrating 10 years of being cancer free, and many more to come. 

Now, I am choosing to stand up here today and share my story because I believe that we have all been touched by breast cancer in one way or another, and it is important for people to hear the impacts it can have on others. I also believe in small communities and the role they can play in someone healing or feeling supported when they go through a diagnosis. I believe in events like this Love Local event and the work that organizations like Runway for Recovery do to help those impacted by breast cancer. So here’s to spreading love to those around you tonight and every night and being the reason someone feels seen and supported.