It’s been out of the spotlight for almost four years, but that’s a good thing for Shawna Farina.
That’s how long it’s been since ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition overhauled her family’s 135-year-old St. Meinrad home, which lacked insulation.
It’s been longer since Farina received news of her breast cancer three weeks before her 25th birthday.
“I was devastated,” she said. “Most people don’t start getting married and having kids until they’re 25. Looking back now, it seems like a long time ago. It’s definitely going to stay with me.”
After radiation, chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy and a total hysterectomy, Farina survived her battle with cancer, and says she is with her husband Steve and their three children Larch, 11, Sa Moss, 9, and Brian, 8) are “completely back to normal”. “maybe.”
“The kids are crazy. They just like to have fun,” she said. “They must have kept me busy.”
After being so close to losing everything, Farina says the little things in life really bring her joy.
“I’m glad I’m here to see my kids still fighting. I don’t take anything in life for granted anymore.”
Since her full recovery, Farina has dedicated herself to helping those battling the disease that nearly took her life not so long ago.
Most recently, she used her connection with Extreme Makeover to volunteer at the site of a new home.
“I finally saw everything behind the scenes,” she said. “It’s like a big family reunion. All for the same reason. They’re addictive.”
After his recovery, Farina also called himself a “poster” for the American Cancer Society, speaking across the country.
She said the experience gave her the opportunity to travel with her children and spend more time with them.
Farina even pursued a new career in oncology nursing, the field of medicine that saved her life.
While much of her recovery has been better than planned, it has not been without anxiety.
In February, she developed another cancer phobia when scans showed elevated levels of tumor markers. However, later scans showed she was still cancer-free.
Farina is now gearing up for her first season of life since anxiety earlier this year and regained her motivation to continue battling the disease, which remains an integral part of her life.
“It made my blood boil even more,” she said.