Twenty years ago, Christel Seyfert was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, she advocates for cancer patients as a member of Prairie Dragon Paddlers – a boat racing team dedicated to providing outreach and educational initiatives in support of breast cancer awareness and research.

The Prairie Dragon Paddlers have raised funds for major gifts to the Cancer Center at Illinois. With family connections to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a deeply personal connection to cancer, Christel understands the importance of having an innovative cancer center in her community.

“Cancer research is important because it will find better treatments and therapies, improving cancer survivor rates,” Christel said. For National Cancer Survivor Week, Christel shares her history with the disease and offers hope to others.

Christel Seyfert

What helped you the most throughout your diagnosis and treatment?

Trust in my medical team and support from family, friends, co-workers, other breast cancer survivors.

What notable moments have you had in your life since you were diagnosed with cancer?

God has given me a second chance at life for which I am most thankful. I have learned to not sweat the small stuff and act more spontaneous when it comes to enjoying and spending precious times with my loved ones.

How did you find the strength to go through cancer treatment and what did others close to you do for you or say to you that made a difference?

Prayer and support from family and friends helped through treatment. They delivered meals, called me often, and sent cards.

How has your life changed since you were diagnosed with cancer?

I am thankful for the little things in life.  My greatest joy is spending time with my loved ones, no matter what we are doing or where. I live every day to the fullest and have great hopes for the future yet to come.

What advice would you give to someone who has recently been diagnosed with cancer or is currently undergoing therapy?

You can do this.  Accept help from others.  Save enough energy to do one thing every day that YOU want to do.  It will keep your spirits up.