Breast cancer survivors have big hearts and big stamina. I’ve been a healthy woman all my life and stand in awe of the fighters and survivors of cancer. How do they do everything their life now says they must do, remain employed, and still carry on with the day to day activities that their original circumstance gave them, like kids and marriage and faith? I have a very full life and can’t imagine one thing more, but somehow these women and men are marching on and succeeding, with so much more to do, and with less energy to do it.
I recently learned about an interesting company started by breast cancer survivors. Yeah, on top of everything, they started a company! Evidently a common side effect of breast cancer therapy is called lymphedema, a condition that can cause permanent swelling in the arms. The most effective control for this condition is called a compression sleeve, and before the birth of LympheDIVAS, it was an ugly, bandage-like sleeve that was also rough and heavy. Rachel Troxell and Robin Miller developed a much cuter and more comfortable version that, when coupled with the fashion design of Kristin Dudley, is attractive as well. According to their Web site, Rachel’s cancer returned in 2007, and took her life Jan 22, 2008 at the early age of 37. The company still exists worldwide, now run by Rachel’s parents, Dr. Howard and Judy Levin.
Another young woman, Leigh Hurst, founded the Feel Your Boobies Foundation in 2004. She has been featured on the Today show and has quite a following. The provocative name came natural to her due to her extensive background in communications. She was a healthy woman, a triathlete with no family history. Her own lump was felt during a self-breast exam, and missed by doctors for two years. By then it had become stage 1. Leigh (33) recognizes that the message has to go out more radically to be more effective, because she passionately knows ‘feeling her boobies’ saved her life. Young, healthy people don’t think about cancer, and she wants to change that–emphatically. You can find Feel Your Boobies on Facebook and Twitter, and can purchase t-shirts and join her campaign on her Web site, feelyourboobies.com. She is available for speaking engagements also. Applause!!
Fight On, Cancer Warriors
Now, I’ve done Race For The Cure for almost a decade but managed to miss it last year. I’ve always considered printing up some cool shirts letting the world know my company endorses the cancer cure philosophy, and I’ve always wanted to raise mass quantities of cash we could donate that would mean something huge. I’ve been raising five children for the last 22 years, however, and the last six years have been incrementally more teenager-intensive, to the point that they managed to consume every ounce of time and cash that ever came my way. I only regret not being better at it, aside from that I wouldn’t change a thing. I love my family and everyone with Zero To Sixty Marketing will tell you that I WILL drop everything for their needs until I no longer have to. Point is, my personal and business endorsement for cancer research has never amounted to much more than trivial funds, walking in support, and amazing conversation.
But I’ve gone, and every year the American Cancer Society, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and many various cancer forms and fighters emerge together in a massive pink walk supporting cancer research, comfort, dialog, and cure.
Two years ago, our Dad was diagnosed first with stage four prostate cancer, and shortly after that, colon cancer. That didn’t prompt him to start a business. He has been in business for himself for over 40 years. He trained all three of my brothers, both of my sisters, and myself on exactly how he wanted his company run, and Mom has always run things right along with him. After several months of chemotherapy, intrusive testing, and hormone killing drugs, his numbers reduced low enough that the doctors felt he would remain healthy for quite some time. Today Mom called and Dad goes back on chemo Monday, and that will include daily IV hydration and all the time-consuming, uncomfortable things that go along with cancer treatment.
I’ve seen the exhaustion. I’ve watched the remarkable and endless schedule of doctor visits and treatments that occupy entire blocks of life. I’ve seen the physical changes that result from going through the stresses of medication and lifestyle changes. I’ve heard weakness and sadness and pain, and strength and power and will.
I don’t know how they do it, but I’m grateful that they do. I believe in the goodness of a great God, and I’ve seen His mercy at work.
Will Race For The Cure Change YOU?
Every year, in every location, is an opportunity to support cancer research through many different walks and fund drives. When you participate in the Komen Race For The Cure, you engage in conversation with complete strangers in a supportive fashion, and ALL cancers are represented. Every shirt represents something that tells someone else about them. There are shirts for survivors, shirts for fighters, shirts for participants. There are signs you can pin on your back that tell others who you walk for, or in memory of. Groups of people hold hands and sing, kids rap, and survivors and fighters laugh together, some hairless-all with scarves and hats.
You can walk right up to person in a survivor shirt and say, “Good to see you today!” You can encourage a fighter with a simple, “You’re looking great!” You can participate in the walk, or you can volunteer in the many booths or services. I walked Tulsa once, and ended up behind a man pushing a stroller with two or three little girls walking next to him. His jaw was set, and his shirt read, “In memory of my wife.” His daughters’ read, “In memory of my mom.”
I know what cancer fighters are fighting. I’m so proud of them all, and every October this pink race causes us to come together in recognition and respect, with anger, applause, and perseverance. Don’t miss it. You will never be the same.
Photo Credit: uuzinger on Flickr