Monday, October 4, 2010

Barb Fights Like a Girl

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This is a cause that is near and dear to me. Having a grandmother that endured breast cancer was an eye opening experience. She was diagnosed in the mid eighties, when I was just a little kid. To think, had she not survived, I would have never known her. I am grateful for the chance to have her in my life and thank God she "fought like a girl" and booted that cancer out the door.

My mother tells the story like this. Her mother, we'll call her Barb, well... because that's her name, called her up one day. Barb said she had just returned from the hospital where she had one of her breast removed; she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was starting treatments. My mom was like, "whaaa whaaa whaaat?" My grandma dealt with it all on her own, not telling her children until she had undergone surgery. I can't even imagine the strength that must have taken... what a real challenge that requires emotional and physical energy... she went through a lot... and this could explain her smidge of later in life curmudgeoness. ;) All in all? She rocks. I love her. She makes me proud.

Barb is a "Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor"
Because this cause has been close to my heart, I have tried to volunteer my time over the years/ do something to raise awareness/ much needed funds. When in college, my rugby team volunteered for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. We worked the registration before the walk began. This was my first taste of just how many people were affected by Breast Cancer. I will never forget for the rest of my life, one woman who was registered for the walk. She was late to check in and was concerned about being able to leave during the walk and then coming back (something that usually wasn't allowed). She had to leave to attend her mother's funeral. She had passed due to breast cancer just days before. The words I'll never forget, "My mom would have wanted me to do this."

Amplify that experience by 10 and you have the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day. I raised over $2000 just to be able to participate (some of which I had to donate myself). The fundraising in and of itself was a job and took me nearly 5 months to do. I still maintain that the "Booze for Boobs" fundraiser was the best and was a major contributing factor in raising awareness among friends (shout out to John, Cristina and June for helping to throw that killer bash). Come time for the 3 day, 60 mile walk, I was by myself and afraid to spend 3 days walking on my lonesome. WAS.NOT.THE.CASE. I met Wendy at minute one. Jill and Heather shortly thereafter, Rachel and her mom after that. These were women who were a constant support even though we had only known eachother for a short time. The cause brought us together to a 60 mile, teary-eyed emotional roller coaster of sharing and caring... an experience I'll never forget. I called Barb on my ride home to cry a little (you have no idea how emotional it is and how very tiring walking 60 miles can be) and just express my joy in her survival. I hope she got it. I love her and did it for her and all the other families that have dealt with this.

Breast Cancer 3-Day with women I didn't know until we bonded over such an emotional and physical experience.

Barb has been in remission for well over 20 years, so now we can joke about it... joke about the dog dragging her gel breast insert, aka "chicken cutlet", out into the living room, whilst also destroying tissues while he was at it. He obvi didn't want her to stuff her bra. She has a great sense of humor, can totally take a joke and gives it as good as she gets it. Barb= Hot Ticket... and we are lucky to have her with us.

Me and Barb, August 2010, browsing used books

PS. Some of my favorite breast cancer awareness jobbies? Susan G. Komen for the cure, The National Breast Cancer Foundation,  Avon Foundation for Women, and Breast Cancer.Org.

PPS. Barb has given me many things in this life, love, affection, annoying email forwards (just kidding Barb, they're cute) but the greatest gift that wonderful woman ever gave me... and my mother... and my cousin... were D's and DD's. Rock on chesty girls!

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