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The 2012 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure

Another 3-Day has ended but the memories of my 5th journey will last a lifetime. It was a beautiful weekend with sunny skies and temps in the mid 70s. After the hot Michigan summer, we could not imagine a more perfect weekend. Sharing this weekend with my family—my mom, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin Lizzy and most importantly, my 12 year old daughter, Lacey, was an experience I will never forget. Jon joined us for opening ceremonies for the first time standing with me as Lacey carried the “generations” flag into the ceremony.

The event was nothing short of amazing. I walked with friends (both old and new), spent time with family, laughed and enjoyed the crowds cheering us along. My boys came out to cheer on Friday and Saturday. My coworkers cheered us on early in day one, and my grandmother was at a cheer station in downtown Farmington to greet us as we neared the end of the first day.

As I enjoyed the sunny skies and the company of friends and family, my mind drifted to the beautiful women whose lives were tragically cut short by this disease. I mourned for their mothers, sisters and children who will not have the opportunity for the shared experience of a 3-Day weekend. I thought about all the other experiences they will miss. The fight is far from over.

Michigan raised 3.2 million dollars this year—75% of that money will fund life-saving research and the other 25% percent will fund programs in our state. It’s an impressive sum of money but there is so much work to be done. Ta Ta Breast Cancer is signed up for 2013, and I encourage you to join us in this fight. We’ll train together, fundraise together and share the weekend of a lifetime together. I promise you an experience you will never forget.

Previvors have powerful knowledge

I just finished watching a video from TEDMED 2012 of a presentation given by Dr. Ivan Oransky. In the video, he speaks about predisease states. The presentation seemed interesting, at first, as he talked about many preconditions and the underlying issues of over treatment that can cause unnecessary harm to patients. He raised some good points.

6 minutes into the video, he began his discussion of “previvors”. I’m saddened at his lack of knowledge and insensitivity to women and men who have a known genetic mutation. When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at age 36, I went through genetic counseling and testing. Through this counseling and testing, I learned of my BRCA 2 mutation–the mutation that significantly increased my lifetime risk of both Breast and Ovarian Cancer. I quickly became involved in a wonderful organization called FORCE. FORCE coined the term previvor, and I am so thankful for what this organization has contributed to the lives of both women and men living with a BRCA mutation. FORCE has saved lives by increasing awareness, providing support, providing education, and providing a community for men and women affected by a hereditary cancer mutation.

Sadly, I know too many young women that learned too late about this mutation. These were mothers, sisters, daughters and friends that left us far too early because of a cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Oransky, I encourage you to learn more before you laugh off the term previvor, before you suggest that Mark Burnett start another TV show. You are talking about beautiful women who are taking measures to save their lives. Beautiful women who deserve to live. I am lucky to know so many previvors who are living wonderfully productive lives because knowledge gave them the power to escape a cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Oransky, I hope you will learn more about hereditary cancer mutations, about previvors, and about this wonderful organization that continues to save lives.

Celebrating 41 years

On March 27, in just one week, I will celebrate my 41st birthday. Birthdays are meaningful to me–especially this one. I was 36 when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. This year I turn 41 and celebrate 5 years of survivorship. I feel so lucky to celebrate another birthday. Sadly, there are far too many women that don’t make it to 41. Yes, breast cancer is still stealing young lives, and I am committed to do what I can to stop that in its tracks. For my 41st birthday or just because, please join me in my fight to put an end to breast cancer.

This year, I have two ways for you to help. Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered has just launched a hereditary cancer research fund–the goal of the fund is to specifically look at the issues surrounding hereditary cancer. I’ve said goodbye to many amazing women who have faced cancer because of a genetic mutation. The research is absolutely critical, and I’m asking for your help. The goal in year 1 is to raise $100,000 to begin funding this important research. With your help, FORCE can get there.

In August, as I officially celebrate 5 years as a survivor, I will also proudly walk with over 40 men and women on Ta Ta Breast Cancer in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. I am proud to say, we are under $70,000 away from raising $500,000 since I first formed the team in 2008.

Please help me celebrate 41 years. Many small donations will add up to so much for both of these organizations. Together, we can say goodbye to breast cancer forever.

Share your energy for Michigan

Every once in awhile, I use my personal blog to write about a topic that doesn’t have anything to do with cancer. Today is that day.

Earlier in the week, I attended the second annual IDEA: Detroit Conference held at the Fox Theater. The goal of the day was to bring together people who are passionate about our city and making a difference. The energy was exciting. As a businesswoman, I’m starting to see the changes in our city and in our state. I can feel the energy and the passion and believe our economy is turning around and great things are happening.

Over the past several months, I’ve also had the wonderful opportunity to work with Business Leaders for Michigan as they’ve rolled out their “New Michigan” plan. I encourage you to watch the New Michigan video and feel the energy. If you live in Michigan, venture over to the Michigan Turnaround Plan Facebook page and take a view minutes to share your vision for a New Michigan in our “New Michigan Sweepstakes”. Optimism is contagious and showing pride in our great state will make a difference. As a side benefit, you can also win $500 and who couldn’t use a little extra cash?

Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood–my response

As a major supporter and fundraiser for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, many people are looking to me for my thoughts and opinions on yesterdays’ announcement  regarding funding to Planned Parenthood.

Let me start by saying I am not in favor of Komen’s decision. As a person deeply concerned about women’s health, I understand the immense value of Planned Parenthood. 

To further complicate a very politically charged issue, Komen did not handle this announcement effectively.   

Where did they go wrong?

  • Komen decided to pull its Planned Parenthood funding just six months after the hiring of Karen Handel–who adamantly opposes abortion–as vice president of public policy. In my opinion, the politics of abortion has no place in a breast cancer research foundation and I think it’s a huge shame that Komen has let this issue affect its mission.
  • Komen took nearly 24 hours to issue its own statement with regards to this funding. This gave the press and social media time to explode. Susan G. Komen was not part of this conversation, and it should have been. When they did issue their statement, it was too little too late. They’re now mired in a public relations nightmare and it’s going to be hard for them to recover. Even though Komen still contributes money to many other healthcare organizations that provide breast cancer screening (as well as mammograms), they’ve done damage by cutting off the well-known and much beloved Planned Parenthood.

I’m certain, the team at Komen is locked in a room desperately trying to find a way to recover. At least I hope they are.

So why do I, a passionate supporter of Planned Parenthood, also continue to stand so firmly behind Susan G. Komen? Because you see, I’m not convinced I would have the opportunity to write this blog had Komen not contributed what they have to breast cancer research over the past 30 years. Would I be alive? Would I be living the life I always dreamt I’d live? Who’s to say? The drugs, the treatments, the awareness, the advancements–so many of them come down to what Susan G. Komen has done for us. I’m terrified at the numbers of people that are professing to never give them another dime. What will this mean to breast cancer research? How will it affect our daughters, sisters and friends? This really scares me.

I know there are other organizations raising funds for breast cancer research. One of them, FORCE, is near and dear to my heart. I believe these other organizations can contribute and I will support them. But today, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the strongest force out there. They are making a real difference in breast cancer  treatment. They are saving lives. We need them.
 
So, to the team at Susan G. Komen, please find a way to make this right. Do what you need to do to get your supporters back on board. I wish the answer was easy but we all know it’s not.
 
To my friends, supporters and fellow teammates–please don’t let this change your commitment. If you’re outraged by Komen’s decision, show it by making a donation to Planned Parenthood. But please don’t pull your support from Komen.

We need this research. We need this funding. We need to find cures and we need to save lives.

Wicked is coming to Detroit!

My favorite yearly fundraiser is approaching. Grab some friends or your kids (older than 8 recommended) and join us for a performance of Wicked–winner of 35 major awards. It’s December 20, 2011 at the Detroit Opera House. We have 3 different price points for seats and a portion of your ticket cost supports Ta Ta Breast Cancer in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. An added bonus–no ticketmaster fees and no mark-up on tickets. We pay group rate and you pay face value–a win, win for all.

Hope to see you there. Stay tuned for more information on Shrek coming to Detroit in Spring of 2012.

3-Day World

It always takes a few days to collect my thoughts and reflect on the emotional and overwhelming experience of walking 60 miles over 3 days. This year was my 4th 3-Day, and I loved it just as much as past years. I feel a great sense of purpose, comradarie and love over those 3 days–it’s a different feeling from everyday life. 362 days a year, we live in the real world and 3 days a year, we live in 3-Day world.

In 3-Day world, it’s perfectly acceptable for people to wear bras outside of their shirts, on their heads or anywhere else they’d like. In 3-Day world, words like boobs, jugs and breasts are part of our everyday vocabulary. In 3-Day world, we are happy to see a relatively clean port-a-pottie and not shy about discussing our bathroom experiences. In 3-Day world, we learn more about our fellow walkers than people we’ve known a lifetime. In 3-Day world, thank yous flow freely from everyone’s mouths and we feel like celebrities walking down the street. In 3-Day world, we are all sisters and brothers connected by a common bond to see an end to breast cancer. More than anything, in 3-Day world, we feel powerful and determined that with each step and each passing day, we are getting closer to beating this disease. And that is why we walk and we raise money and we never ever give up.

While I’m back in the real world, I hang on to the emotions, thoughts and feelings I experienced last weekend. I will never stop fighting on behalf of far too many women who’ve lost their battle this year and every year. I will never stop fighting for my daughter, my friends, my extended family and all of our future generations. I am confident we can beat this disease and happy to share this journey with so many others. One year from today, I will once again enter 3-Day world and experience my 5th journey. Join me and experience the life-changing journey of 3 days, 60 miles and one common goal.

With my mom and Aunt Bunny

Celebrating 4 years!

4 years ago today, my life changed in ways I could never imagine at the time.  It was a Thursday evening at 9:00 when the phone rang and my doctor shared those 3 little words. Today I celebrate 4 years of surviving breast cancer—a milestone I cherish each day. With each passing year, I feel thankful to be alive and feeling great. I appreciate good health like never before. My year of treatment and surgeries is a distant memory but my comittment to ending this disease continues. Losing beautiful women reminds me that while my fight is over, the big fight is not. So while I celebrate, I also think about all the brave women who battled this disease to the end, and in their memory, I will continue on my mission to say goodbye to breast cancer forever.

The weekend of my diagnosis--4 years ago.

11 reasons WHY $11.11 donations are NEEDED

Mike and his mom

I love this campaign developed by my teammate and very devoted fundraiser, Mike Hull.

11 reasons why $11.11 donations are NEEDED.

1.Approximately 1.4 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer globally each year.

2.Approximately 456,000 people worldwide die from the disease each year.

3.Somewhere in the world, a woman dies from breast cancer every 69 seconds.

4.In the past 25 years, incidence rates have risen approximately 30 percent in westernized countries.

5.Why let another mother, sister, father, friend or even a stranger die from breast cancer…when we can fight back?

6.$11.11 is the amount a typical person spends on lunch in one day…can you eat in one day and a make a small but VERY worthwhile donation?

7. Susan G. Komen for the Cure paid for more than 600,000 breast screenings in 2009!

8.Susan G. Komen for the Cure has raised more than $1.5 billion to fund research, advocacy and community programs since Komen was founded in 1982.

9.Your donation can and will save safe a life.

10.Cancer sucks….please help stop it!

11.Why not donation….really….why not? All donations benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Mike Hull is walking 60 miles in the Susan G. Komen 3-day event hosted in mid-August and has a goal to raise $11,111.11. Mike walks because his mother currently has stage 4 cancer and he needs a cure (her birthday this year was 1/11/11)! You may not know Mike, but what you need to know is the mission of Eleven-11 and Susan G. Komen, which is to find the cure for breast cancer! Please help! Please pass this on. Donations accepted on the Susan G. Komen website, http://www.the3day.org and search for participant Mike Hull or the direct link is http://www.the3day.org/goto/InHonorOfJean.

Another successful Ta Ta Breast Cancer fundraiser!

Last week we had our 4th annual family rooftop party at 24 Seconds. The weather was iffy making the rooftop party an indoor party.  Nevertheless, it was was a huge success–our biggest yet with $1,400 raised for our 3-Day team. A big huge shout out to many businesses that helped with great raffle prizes:

Shirtbox

24 Seconds

Dr. Paul Darmon

Bordines

The Pink Fund

Ecology

Ace Hardware

The Tiger Foundation

Jazzercise Royal Oak

Priss Salon

Hagopian

Accupuncture Healthcare Associates of Michigan

Jeans Gone Green

Mark Cohen Photography

The Zap Zone

And another big shout out to the members of Ta Ta Breast Cancer (and the kids) who helped sell raffle tickets, collect great raffle items and helped promote this event.

We are quickly approaching $95,000. $15,000 to go to reach our big giant goal of $400,000 in 4 years. Please help us get there for all the women still fighting, the women we’ve lost, our daughters, our mothers and our friends. We need your help to say goodbye to breast cancer forever.

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