Woman uses breast cancer diagnosis to change lives, help others
When Dolphin Riggs learned she had breast cancer, she was determined not to let the diagnosis get her down.
Instead of getting upset, she got motivated and started helping other women going through treatment.
The spunky 71 year-old from Athens is most at home when she’s outside enjoying nature.
“Anytime your feet are on the soil as opposed to on the pavement you’re getting the energy of the earth and that by itself is very healing,” Riggs said.
Nature is what helped Riggs get through the tough time in her life.
She was about to celebrate her 70th birthday when she went in for a mammogram and something didn’t look right. Riggs learned she had breast cancer and soon after had a double mastectomy.
She said she knew she couldn’t just sit around the house. Cancer didn’t keep her down for long.
“Eight days,” Riggs laughed.
Riggs, an avid hiker, hit the trail about a week after surgery, and she’s been moving forward ever since.
“What would have normally been considered lemons by so many just became the best lemonade ever,” said Riggs.
She started a program called 'Hiking for Healing' that brings together survivors and women going through treatment.
“If I can get them out there and laughing and playing with me on the trail and enjoying themselves, mother earth will take care of the healing part and laugh therapy itself is very healing so they can really accomplish a lot by letting that child come out and play,” Riggs said.
Riggs calls the group 'the dolphin pod' and together they hike, offering friendship and support.
Hiking for Healing earned her a proclamation from the State of Tennessee which now hangs on the wall at Little River Trading Company where she works.
“I see that as kind of a marker telling me that it’s time for that next step to take this program to its next step. Your heart knows that you’re doing the right thing, but when something like that happens, you know that it’s your confirmation,” Riggs told Channel 3.
Riggs believes that her calling is to be with the Hiking for Healing group and to help women move on after cancer.
“Every person that hikes with us is just a beautiful soul and we have a good time and I do believe this is what I'm here for and the purpose for the whole experience," Riggs said.
The group has grown to include more than 50 women.
If you know someone who is making a difference in your community, let Lori Mitchell know about that person at email@example.com.