Meet the Models, SoCal: Jo Lynn Stueve & Carrie Purunjian

Jo Lynn Stueve was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2010. She was shocked: “I didn’t believe it. I was in total denial.” She had no family history and had emphasized being healthy and active her entire life. The uncertainty of diagnosis was emotionally complicated because she was recently divorced and had only been dating a man for five months. He himself was a widow and Jo Lynn remembers thinking, “I can’t do this to him again.” He stuck around and along with her daughter Carrie, 26 at the time, Jo Lynn underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstruction at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Carrie was there for every treatment and even created a journal of photos and commentary from the entire journey: “Carrie has been my rock and angel.”

Jo Lynn’s goal became focused on making it to the five year cancer free mark. Doctors had always said that five years significantly decreased chances of recurrence. She made it and Carrie threw her a massive party to celebrate. Now a decade on, Jo Lynn feels blessed every day she wakes up: “ I think it made me appreciate life more. I had very little religious background before diagnosis, but once I got through treatment, I decided to get baptized and become a Catholic because I felt God had a lot to do with my survival. I am a better person for all of that.”

Jo Lynn’s love for her daughter radiates and she is quick to recognize she couldn’t have made it through without her: “Carrie wouldn’t allow me to think negatively about my journey. It was always ‘you’re going to beat this.’” Carrie, smiling, says, “my mom is so strong. I knew she had this from day 1. She kept a great mindset throughout. She’s tough. I get my toughness from my mama.”