I’d like to share with you a story that began almost 50 years ago and involves someone who is very special to me.


Posing for the camera this past Easter.

Laurena is my cousin.  We are 5 months apart in age and grew up together in California.  From taking baths together as toddlers, spending summer vacations together, confiding in each other about boyfriends to being in each other’s wedding, she has always played an important part in my life.  
If some of you think that you may have seen Laurena before, you just may have.  

She and her family are featured in a commercial where she shares her battle with breast cancer that appears on television throughout the greater Phoenix area.


I still remember that day, two years ago on Easter, when she told me she had breast cancer.  I could hardly believe it.  How could my cousin, who I had grown up with, have cancer?  Sadly it was true.

The next year, Laurena went through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  Throughout her treatment, she remained positive and was an incredible role model for those around her on how to face, fight and overcome something as horrible as cancer.

Noelle (me) and Laurena as babies with our mothers and grandma.

You never know what trials and tribulations that life will bring except that they will come.

Laurena has been a wonderful role model on how faith, family and friends can come alongside and get you through the toughest of trials.  I am proud not only to have been her cousin for 50 years, but her friend as well.

Has there been anyone if your life who has inspired you with their battle with cancer?


You can watch more about Laurena’s story here.
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

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