Breast cancer hit me in the face last fall when two of my long-time friends were diagnosed with breast cancer within 30 days of each other: Kim Reichmann, my Arizona buddy and childhood friend whom I've known for more than 30 years, and Jamie Pouster, my friend and boss over the eight years I've lived in Texas.
This disease had already hit my family once--my grandmother is a 30-year survivor--and now it was hitting my friends. Within six months, the circle of my friends with a breast cancer diagnosis had increased to six. Breast cancer was now "in my face" and I didn't know what I could do about it.
For support and awareness I started Courage Circle and had a special necklace made for each of my friends to wear for inspiration. On each necklace is the word "courage" and a pink crystal—a reminder that they have the courage to beat their breast cancer. I also wear the necklace to remind me, each day, of my dear friends whose courage helped them endure a year of treatment. Now they have to rely on this courage as they enter into their next stage of "being a survivor."
I put my necklace on last fall, and to this day it has not left my neck. I made a commitment to my friends that I would continue wearing it every hour of every day until each of them had completed their treatments. I am proud to say that both my long-time friends have completed their treatments but I can't bear to take off this necklace. Every week people ask me about it and I tell the story behind the necklace. If this little necklace can get the word out to "get those mammograms," then I will continue wearing it.
Throughout this journey I had hoped that my friends Kim and Jamie would be able to meet one another. They've been on the same journey, though separated by many miles. When Jamie's sister, Valerie, suggested we participate in the Komen Race for the Cure® in California, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for these two women to meet, have a mini-vacation/celebration, and support a wonderful cause. That is why I am doing the walk for them and for all the women that I have met along the way.
People have asked us why we are spending the money to fly to Orange County when there is a Race right here in Dallas and we could use the airfare money as a donation. Luckily, each of us has a free ticket (due to our husbands' travels) and we are staying with Jamie's sister. And in the end, this will be a celebration of life and of new and existing friendships.
When I was told in April 2014 that I had breast cancer, I felt like someone socked me in my stomach.