Code Pink

October is breast cancer awareness month. In my work this is an important month. It includes legislative breakfasts, educational sessions, screening events, and op-eds for newspapers.

Despite the plethora of information on breast cancer there are times when the information gets lost in the shuffle of life. Messages that would best go from our heads to our health get lost. In an effort to change that I’ve posted an infographic on breast cancer. It’s a different way of looking at what may be old information.

My hope is that you will not only look but act — if you’re young make sure the older women in your life see and know the facts; if you’re older make sure you are regularly screened; if you’re a survivor, share your story! We need to hear it.

Make October more than pink ribbons – make it action!

Code Pink

Not Fully Baked

English: pink ribbon

“When you lose your mother at 18 years old, you’re not fully baked. That’s what we do with our daughters, we baste them,bake them and roast them.”


The above statement came from the Master of Ceremonies, Candy O’Terry, at the All4One Alliance “Dress for a Cause” fashion show I attended last night. It was part of her story, a poignant story about a stoic mom who had advanced stages of breast cancer. Her daughter watched her body fail from metastatic disease and sat with her in a bleak hospital room during her last four days of life. Because of this single event in her life, she is committed to a cause – that of helping increase awareness and funding for breast cancer research and support for women with breast cancer.

Watching moms at the event because of their daughters and daughters because of their moms was moving. The mother/daughter bond is a unique connection. I’m the only girl in a family with four boys and so my mother and I spent a lot of time together. Imagining my life without my mom is like imagining winter without Christmas, or days with no sunshine. She always makes things better. She always serves tea. The two seem to go hand in hand.

I was baked and roasted in a different way because of the surrogate mothers called housemothers at boarding school. Some were not very good cooks. Others were outstanding and my mom was grateful. It’s hard to give up your kitchen to someone else. Hard to let other people try their recipes that are probably not as good as yours.

Last night’s event was just as I imagined in the post I wrote yesterday – there were many hurting people in a beautiful setting. A lot of loss was represented in the room. Loss of friends, moms, daughters and grandmothers. But this was a group of women who were not going to be defeated by the death of someone they loved. They were there for a reason, for a cause.  In honor of their friends, moms, daughters and grandmothers, they came together to raise money so the rest of us don’t have to go through the sadness of losing the cook before we’re fully baked.

Having a worthy cause to fight for gives meaning during the times of loneliness and questioning “Why?”. These women were examples of true friends and warriors. They could have wallowed and wearied in loss. They have chosen to be active and live effectively despite loss.

In many ways the setting was a world removed from much of what is comfortable to me. As much as I love to dress up and go out, I am more emotionally comfortable in a village dispensing malaria medication. But both places teach me valuable lessons about living with a purpose and recognizing even the hard days as gifts.

What about you? Have you lost someone to breast cancer? Is someone you love going through the grueling process of chemo and radiation? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.