Love Your People
A Closer Look at Hope Scarves Founder & Public Speaker Lara MacGregor
Writer / Christy Cates
Photography Provided by Hope Scarves
“Love your people.”
That was Lara MacGregor’s response when asked how she has been able to grow her nonprofit over the last eight years. When you meet her, she has a gracious intensity about her. She warmly defines loving her people as being vulnerable, showing up, and listening. She shares a lot about her life, but her narrative is honest, raw, and not another highlight reel. She doesn’t simply preach about loving her people — she embodies it. Having a conversation with Lara means that you are garnering her full attention. She is present, engaged, and her words are thoughtful and intentional.
The entire concept of Hope Scarves is based on this level of thoughtfulness. Upon her breast cancer diagnosis in 2007, a friend of a friend gifted her a box of scarves with words of encouragement. That gift from a stranger is what sparked her to start Hope Scarves in her spare bedroom. Hope Scarves sends scarves and stories of hope from cancer survivors to cancer patients. The concept is two-fold, providing encouragement for someone who is facing cancer and creating a community where people can share their stories. Community and owning your story has been a primary point of healing and connection for many people.
Hope Scarves grew out of Lara’s guest room into an office in St. Matthews, with over 1100 stories told and scarves sent to every state and to over 24 countries. In addition, Hope Scarves is also funding additional metastatic research that would otherwise not be possible. Metastatic cancer is a condition where the original tumor has spread to other parts of the body. Research is essential because survival rates are much lower in metastatic cases.
Building this community has allowed Lara to share her story. Sharing her story and connecting with others is clearly her passion. When asked what drives her, Lara says “Connecting with people makes having metastatic cancer bearable. If I’m going to have cancer, get chemo, and have all the toxic side effects, at the very least, I want to bring meaning to this suffering. And bring comfort to others going through something similar.”
Lara’s original cancer went into remission for several years, then it came back. The diagnosis of metastatic cancer has forced her to redefine what hope means to her. Her message is no longer about her cancer journey, but how to live life over cancer. Teaching others how to be profoundly broken, while also being deeply whole, her message goes beyond cancer. It is about resiliency and intentionality.
“Every time I tell my story, I feel so connected to people,” she says. “When something I say resonates with people, it makes me feel like I can do some good in this world.”
This is exactly what she plans to do next. She is launching her new website LaraMacgregor.com, with the hope of sharing her story beyond the cancer community. This expansion will get her in front of a wider audience, to talk about living her life over cancer. She also desires to create multiple platforms to help other people tell their stories too. The endeavor is focused on storytelling, living intentionally, and empowering others. It has been her longtime dream to create a podcast that highlights other people who make this world a better place. Lara MacGregor is inspired to expand Hope Scarves through this new avenue of connection. Follow her on her journey at LaraMacgregor.com.