Beyond the Pink; Supporting Breast Cancer Patients Where it Matters

** Note from Heather – I have some fantastic friends who are a huge part of my hive.  My community.  From time to time I’ll ask them to share their voices in The Hive.  I hope you enjoy these contributions to hometoheather.com because there’s just so much awesome out there and not enough time for me to write it all down. ** 

By Tamara Schroeder

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I can always tell when October rolls around. Not only by the falling leaves, but by the sense of dread when I realize that the final two and a half months until Christmas will inevitably fly by and I’ll be buried in snow and wind chills before long.

Maybe the greatest indicator of the month is the sea of pink that bathes every storefront and limited time promotion I come in contact with. October is breast cancer awareness month. Unless you rarely emerge from your home during that period, it would be hard to miss. That being said, if you walk by various fundraiser displays in stores, it’s easy enough to tune out if you don’t have a personal connection to the stories behind the efforts.

On Saturday, September 27, I had the opportunity to see many of those stories, gathered together in one large space. When you can put faces to the bracelet you bought or the 5k race you ran, suddenly your involvement takes on whole new meaning.

The Glamour Gala is the major annual fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Supportive Care Foundation. On paper, that is. What is actually looks like, is the Imperial Ballroom in the downtown Hyatt Regency, filled with beautiful men and women, many breast cancer survivors or family members of those who have fought the battle. It looks like a fashion show, featuring these same people, strutting what their mamas and papas gave them, while the audience screams their support. Not for a pretty dress or fantastic pair of shoes (though there were many of those), but for these individuals and their families who have all fought a seemingly endless battle.

photo by tamara schroeder 2014

And to think my biggest concern prior to the event is if my shoes would be appropriate. (They weren’t, but that’s well beside the point).

Interspersed with gorgeous gowns and street-ready fashion, were personal experiences. The tone was set as the afternoon began, and six survivors dressed in black and white, shared snippets of their stories and why this organization means the world to them and their families.

Somewhere in the middle I had a phenomenal salad with goat cheese and some stellar cheesecake, but again, beside the point.

fashion compasion glamour gala

Later, came the story of Debbie and her daughter Jamie. Jamie and her husband were on the verge of adopting their first child when she learned she had breast cancer. I’ve had two newborns myself, and in those early days, lamented crying and mood swings, Jamie endured while undergoing chemo for her illness. Beyond the comparison of both being young moms, I was struck by the relationship between mother and daughter.

That very afternoon, my own mom was with my two little ones, so I could attend the event without having a four-year old beg for a sip of mimosa. Suddenly, Debbie and Jamie’s story had my eyes wet with tears as I thought of my own mom experiencing the same journey – hearing the news, holding her daughter’s hair as she was sick, trying to assure her everything would be okay and her children were loved and well looked after, even in those moments when she couldn’t physically do the job.

More than anything, these few short hours spent with women I didn’t know beyond their names, gave me hope. The women and men who talked and walked, were filled with joy and hope. And thank God for the BCSCF for giving them some of that in this tough battle.

The organization is a non-profit who seeks to help breast cancer patients and those who love them. Co-founder Dr. Ardythe Taylor, discovered a need for such a service when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and found difficulty navigating the system, despite being a medical professional herself. Since 2003, Dr. Taylor and her colleague, Dr. Lesley Coulter, have sought to bridge the gap many patients experience, and offer – as the name suggests – support, be that for medical services or providers, or an ear to listen and offer comfort.

breast cancer support event

Indeed, it was apparent quickly, that those participating in the afternoon’s fundraiser, had very personal connections and experiences with the BCSCF. The level of love and support in the room was tangible, even for the newcomer watching from a narrow, outsider’s perspective. My connections to the cause were not the same, but the tears I shed, the whistles I attempted (sadly attempted – I should stick to whoops of support), were real.

I’m still not sure how you make a large room full of people feel intimate and connected, but for three hours, it was a small space, filled with a whole lot of love and support. And $155,000 for the organization. A great step towards ensuring the needs for these women and their families are met and that this invaluable organization can keep offering hope and a reason to smile during what may be a family’s greatest battle.

I’ll never view another pink display so generically again. The faces are real, the stories are real. Somehow I ended up feeling like I left with more than I came with at a charity fundraiser event. That’s even more impressive than the grand total raised.

 

 


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