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.

About Bernadette

I live in the small town of Haddonfield, NJ. I am at an age in my life when I seem to spend time thinking and musing about life. These musings are usually stimulated by my walks through Haddonfield, my reading of books and fellow bloggers, and my interaction with my group of fabulous family and friends.

24 Responses

  1. What a wonderful tribute to two wonderful friends and women warriors, Bernadette. I am glad to hear that both are doing well today. I lost my sister to metastatic breast cancer – after a valiant fight of many years. Her husband succumbed to cancer of another type shortly after, leaving two sons in their 20s orphans. Life certainly deals the joker twice – and we all must be grateful for every healthy day on earth.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This disease is not selective but appears to strike randomly and some people are hit repeatedly. My husband lost both his parents within a year of each other to cancer and my mum had colon cancer 20 years ago, she was very fortunate it was caught early and she has been healthy since then. Your friends are indeed inspirational and I’m glad you have them in your life. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Bernadette for sharing this strong and beautiful story showing your friends courage and love of life. It is amazing how many people in such frightening situations grow stronger than ever. A treasure to have a friendship like you three share.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elizabeth Mangino

    Bernadette, this is such a beautiful tribute to Nancy and Fran. Although I didn’t have the privilege of meeting you, Fran and Nancy until much later in life, I feel so very fortunate, blessed and inspired to be able to call you all my friends.

    I think by now we’ve all known women who have either survived or succumbed to some form of women’s gynecological cancer. It’s reach is broad and deep. Thank you to Nancy, Fran and all the other crusaders who help lead and get involved in the fight for cures.

    And thank you to Bernadette for these beautiful weekly posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nancy McGonigle

    I am a better person just knowing these women. Inspiring; loving and giving – it is a pleasure to be part of their lives and to be friends with all three of you . 😘


  6. Bernadette, thank you for sharing Fran & Nancy’s inspiring stories. A dear family friend, breast-cancer survivor Rene Bowditch, co-founded Beyond Boobs (www.beyondboobs.org) an organization especially focused on young women seeking early diagnosis & offering support. Yesterday at an auto shop getting my car inspected, there was a Beyond Boobs sign raising awareness of breast cancer – they are all over our town in every kind of business & restaurants & even auto-repair shops! 💓🎀💓

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A beautiful tribute to your two dear friends and powerful women, Bernadette. I’m amazed at the strength some people find in the direst of circumstances and turn their tragedies around to help others. The success of Pink and Teal is no small feat. Thanks for the smile. ❤



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