Carry On: a strength worth sharing

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alyssa M. Akers
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
She walked confidently, although anyone could see the pain behind her smile.

She spoke passionately about her story, the struggles of having breast cancer and how she still moves on every day.

I first met Senior Master Sgt. Amber Robbins, 5th Force Support Squadron superintendent, at the Annual Women’s Symposium in June 2018, but didn’t feel a connection to her story until the next time we spoke.

She gave an almost 30-minute speech during the breast cancer awareness luncheon in October. There, I not only listened, but became invested into the story she told.

“This past year I have spent most of my time posing as a human pin cushion,” Robbins said during her speech. “I have met with three surgeons, two oncologists, and more than 20 nurses; I have had two surgeries, three Biopsies, three MRIs, three PET/CT Scans, six chemotherapy treatments, 18 hormonal infusions, 28 radiation therapy treatments, 35 blood work appointments. I have been on 10 different medications for treatment, and I have gone through 780 Imodium tablets, 15 bags of Epsom salt, and 208 rolls of toilet paper to prep me for the 3,180 trips I made to the bathroom.”

Hearing the ups and downs made me cry. Her story was not the typical one I’ve heard. If a speech could move me in this way, I was sure the world would be interested in what she had to say.

With my coworker, we reached out to her a few weeks later, interested in getting the ball rolling for sharing her story.

We visited her home, set up three cameras and enough lights to blind someone, but she still held the same level of confidence as the first time we met.

“I had days where I could not muster up enough strength to move out of bed or off the couch, but I still went to work when I could,” said Robbins. “I tried to be a better supervisor and a better role model, not only for my Airmen but for my children, and tried to be a better wife. I did not lose anything with having cancer. If anything, I am better because I had cancer!”

I thought I knew her story back in October, but she still shed more light on her journey. Before I knew it, she had been speaking for over an hour, on-camera, and I was still hurting from what she had to face.

Even through adversity, Robbins managed to care for her family, support her Airmen and get selected for promotion to chief master sergeant.

I learned a lot from just hearing her story, and I’m excited to share that with the world.

Her strength gives me hope.