A Mother and her Two Daughters

27 September 2010

The Power of Sisterhood & Survivors

My friend Ellen, a nine-year Inflammatory Breast Cancer survivor, told me to get ready to join the sisterhood, to share my cancer journey each year around October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I had mixed feelings about that as I’ve said many times that I don’t necessarily want to be identified as the lady with cancer.  I’m so much more than that.  But the truth is, I am now that too.  And if sharing my story about fighting and surviving cancer can help other women know more about IBC, or help other cancer patients endure the physical and emotional impact throughout treatment, or provide a sense of awareness for families and caregivers, then bring it on.  I’m happy to share with the world that wants to listen all the good, the bad and the ugly about cancer. 

So last night, I served as the Honorary Survivor at a very special dinner at Ashley’s Restaurant to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  To be honored as a survivor feels much more than uplifting.  I cannot even describe it.  Even though I know that all cancer patients are declared a survivor at the time of their diagnosis, to see my name in print as “Honorary Survivor” sent goose bumps up my spine. 

Sherrye McBryde, Amy Treadway and Judy Phillips did a masterful job of coordinating this elegant dinner – warm goat cheese salad, catfish with turnip greens and hull peas, roast duckling with peanuts and sweet potatoes, crème fraiche panna cotta.  Pink wines – and not the cheap varieties you’re thinking about – accompanied each of the five courses.  Instead, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé Champagne, Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé and Buoncristiani Rosato.  Arkansas native and legendary performer Lawrence Hamilton performed two beautiful songs for the crowd of 200.  And among that crowd included my special friend Tim, my parents, two aunts, some very close friends, and all of my girl cousins who flew in from Texas.  WOW!  What a wonderful surprise.  It was a very successful event that raised more money for the Arkansas Komen Affiliate. 

My first acquaintance with the Susan G. Komen Foundation began in 1995, only three years after the Arkansas Affiliate was incorporated.  I was hired by the Arkansas Hospital Association and others to help pass the much needed Breast Cancer Act.  But only three years old, it was the Komen Foundation that provided the necessary leadership we needed to pass the legislation with a groundswell of citizen lobbyists.  So while I battled the halls of the State Capitol, it was the Pink Warriors of Komen that made phones ring and letters mailed to the 135 members of the Arkansas legislature.  In the end, we won, defeating the powerful tobacco lobby to fund much needed early detection and treatment services for low-income women.  

In my 18 months working for the breast cancer coalition, I learned so much from the collective spirit of the Komen women.  They were fearless, loyal, committed and always united. 

Today, they remain all of those things while serving as the leading expert and resource for breast cancer in Arkansas.  Among their many accomplishments:
·      They have held 16 Race for the Cure events.
·      Distributed almost $10 million in grants in Arkansas for educational and information programs that promote breast health. 
·      Provided breast cancer-related programs to women like me who are fighting the good fight, including the New Outlook program that provides wigs at no charge for those in chemotherapy treatment.  Komen also provided almost $100,000 to the UAMS Digital Mobile Mammography program that takes mammogram services to counties that have no fixed facilities. 

Hats off to Komen!  And thank you for my lifetime membership!  Your sisterhood is very powerful, and your vast network of programs is much appreciated for a cancer kickin’ woman like me. 

And by the way,  the Susan G. Komen Arkansas Race for the Cure will be held Saturday, October 16th.  If you haven’t yet registered for this event, consider racing or making a donation by clicking here. 

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