Pink balloons and pink table cloths were everywhere and there in all that pinkness were women of all ages, and girls who were not women yet, but someday would be. Women in the middle of their lives and women with new babies. Blondes and brunettes and silver haired beauties mingled in every corner. There were mothers and daughters, grandmothers and friends.
The place was full.
In that group, two women waited. The women didn’t know one another, but both were there for the same cause; one to educate and one to donate. One woman would tell a story and the other woman would put her money where her hair was.
I came that night to learn and to give. My mother, two aunts and a sister are breast cancer survivors, and I, too, have two daughters. Attending and wearing pink seemed the least I could do.
The first speaker walked to the microphone with slow confidence, her bright eyes sparkling under the fluorescent lights. Her hair was barely there, a soft halo in its re-growth.
“For those of you who don’t know me, I am Angie. I grew up in this town and I have breast cancer. Tonight, I brought my mother with me. My mother had breast cancer twenty years ago.”
“She is a survivor and I will be, too.”
With that, the room exploded with applause, eyes already misting at the power of those first few words. From there, that group of women walked in Angie’s shoes as she relived her breast cancer story. Angie described how the doctor called and broke the news. She matter-of-factly spoke of her treatment, her pain, her worries, her side effects and the days she stayed in bed. Tenderness filled her voice when Angie mentioned her two daughters and how she refused to let them think that breast cancer was about dying. As her treatment took its toll, she decided to shave her hair to prove she was still in control of what was happening to her. Angie worried that her children would be upset by her shaved head, so she invited friends over and made it a “hair shaving party”. Together, her friends and family shaved Angie’s head, laughing and joking and making it feel like the hair on the floor wasn’t there.
Afterwards, Angie answered questions about what to say to someone with cancer and what she would change if only she could. When she was done, most in that crowd of women had silent tears on our cheeks. Before us stood a strong beautiful woman; a daughter, a mother, a friend.
Angie could be us.
For the full column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard,