As I am sure that most of you know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am going to share with you the stories of two of my personal heroes. One is a survivor of breast cancer and the other works tirelessly to raise money for the eradication of women’s cancers. I have had the privilege of being their friend for over 35 years.
We all started out as young mothers in our much loved town of Haddonfield. Fran and Nancy were always organizers and soon I joined in and we were working on all kind of activities to help our children’s school.
We had splendid lives that were only touched by ordinary problems. But, as everyone knows, this type of life doesn’t last forever.
Nancy’s story – The first harbinger of trouble came when Nancy and her first husband divorced. It was a shock to everyone, including her. Nancy was left with two children to raise and a pocketbook full of bills. But to Nancy’s credit, she picked herself up and reinvented her life. She took the experience she gained from all those numerous fund raising activities she had worked on and built a business advising Not for Profit agencies how to increase donations. Nancy didn’t just survive, she thrived.
One of Nancy’s early efforts was to help form a group called Teal Magnolias. The purpose of Teal Magnolias is to raise funds for research for a cure for Ovarian Cancer. Nancy built this effort into such as success that five years after its inception, Cooper Hospital came calling and asked to join forces to build one effort called Pink and Teal. Pink for breast cancer research and Teal for ovarian cancer research. Last year this event raised $750,000.
Little did Nancy or Fran or I realize at the time how personal this effort would become to us.
Fran’s story – Fran lived the life we did, seemingly untroubled for years and years. Fran did have one health scare early on but she recovered completely and it faded from memory and became only a little blip in the story of her life. Her wonderful husband Richard retired and they set out on a fun filled retirement life. Then one day they heard that dreaded word – cancer. Richard had a very rare cancer that really had no cure. They gave it their most valiant fight. But Richard lost the fight and Fran became a young widow. And once again I watched a friend reinvent her life and keep going. Well, sometimes life deals you the joker twice. Fran had no sooner gotten her life back in order than she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now she had to face the fight for her life without the benefit of a spouse to help her. How was she going to do it became my constant worry. But I had no reason for that worry, when you have been a good friend to many people for year upon year, those people come out of the woodwork to help you.
Fran is done her treatment now and honestly looks more vibrant than before she suffered from breast cancer. She rose above the circumstances of her life to become a dedicated supporter of the Pink and Teal Organization. Fran didn’t just survive, she has thrived.
These women are my heroes. I am sure that all of us have women in our lives that we love. Let’s extend that love to every woman and support the efforts to find cures for women’s cancers not just in October but in every month of the year.
I invite you to share a link to your story of an inspiring woman.