Apryl Allen was living the life she’d always dreamed about. The former Miss Arizona was married to a man she loved and was the CFO of a successful architectural firm when she recorded her first singing demo. Her album Morningstar, which blends traditional Native American music from her Comanche heritage with pop music, went on to qualify for five GRAMMY categories. She won several Native American Music Awards and was collaborating with the Arizona Opera to write a Native American musical when, one day, her world fell apart.
She found out she had breast cancer. Luckily, it was considered low risk, and she knew she would fight it.
“When you’re first diagnosed with breast cancer, it is probably the most terrifying thing to be told. But I thought, I’m going to move forward with my life. I’m not somebody who’s going to sit in the back seat and let life pass me by. Life is far too precious, far too important.”
Six months later, Apryl was back to her career. She also wrote a book about her experience. Then, in 2018, while she was speaking about her book at a medical conference, a friend pushed her to get a lump under her arm examined. It wasn’t long before she was diagnosed with breast cancer again.
This time, she opted for a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
“The second time around was so much different from the first. My doctor told me about this procedure called Hidden Scar, which sounded almost too good to be true. She talked me through the whole procedure, how I would be feeling, what I wanted to do once it was done. She made me feel comfortable, not afraid.”
Afterward, she was amazed by the results.
“I looked in the mirror and I didn’t see somebody who was afraid to move forward or would have to worry about what types of clothes they could or couldn’t wear. I thought, holy cow, I can put on swimsuits and nobody would ever know.”
Apryl remembers when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and watching her have to make choices about her body and health that shouldn’t be placed on any women. The sheer thought of her mother’s bravery in the midst of such limited knowledge of breast cancer treatment brings her to tears almost every time it crosses her mind.
She looks at what her mother went through, then considers her own experiences fighting breast cancer and is blown away by the monumental strides that have been made in the field.
Today, Apryl is back to juggling multiple careers as a singer, songwriter and CFO. She swims regularly, is an active member of her tribe and is even thinking about getting back to writing her musical again.
She is also proud of her identity as a two-time breast cancer survivor.
Apryl found her courage to live by learning to enjoy being alive in every single moment. The journey of life is rarely easy. It often brings trials that we don’t expect or anticipate, but by taking each day as a gift and focusing her heart on the things in life that really matter, she has found the strength to make it through even the hardest of days.
“I’ve learned to enjoy being alive in this moment. I’m a breast cancer survivor, and I’m moving forward with life.”
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