It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means incredible survivor stories— such as Athena Gorder’s. She’s from Billings and recently wrapped up her treatment at Billings Clinic, with her son as her support system.
"It says my treatment's done, my course is done and I'm on my way," Gorder said.
Gorder was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 47 in 2020, and her 20-year-old son, Payne, stopped his entire life to be with her, at every doctor's appointment, chemo treatment and cancer milestone.
"I don’t know how he did this. I don’t know. People say you’re so strong and my thoughts are, I’m not strong. I do what I have to do, but the strength we get is from our family and the strength from our support system," Gorder said.
From her hair journey, her first Relay for Life, to treatments and matching tattoos- Payne was there through it all.
"My son would not sleep in his bedroom. He would sleep on the couch because it was close to my bedroom. So that if I needed anything at any time he could hear me. He did not want to leave my side," Gorder said.
Today she’s 50, in remission, and has picked up a new skill to pass on to other survivors as a permanent cosmetic artist.
"When I went through chemotherapy, you lose every single hair on your body, you lose your eyelashes, eyebrows, everything. I was fortunate enough that I had my eyebrows microbladed three years prior to cancer. When I had lost all my hair and my eyebrows, I still had eyebrows on my face and it made me feel feminine, it made me still feel like I was a woman," she said.
Now she’s microblading survivor eyebrows as a donation to women who’ve faced the same battle. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s got another big goal.
"I will be competing in the Mrs. Montana and Mrs. Montana America and Mrs. Montana America pageant this summer, and my platform will be breast cancer awareness and metastatic breast cancer research," Gorder said.
She’s got a big story to tell, and it all started with a big diagnosis, and a big support system. Now she gets to help others with her big heart.
For more information on Athena Gorder's cosmetic ink artistry service, free for breast cancer survivors, call Carizzma Salon in Billings at 406-256-3300 or visit her on Facebook or on Instagram.
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