The other night I managed to spent a little quality time with my television. Shocking, I must say! There was no nine year old demanding my undivided attention, no remote control hog sitting on the other end of the sofa. Nope, it was just me, the remote and the soft glow emanating from my boob tube. Before switching over to some mindless drivel designed to numb my brain, I decided to take in all the news that the “liberal” news media decided I needed to know about.
As luck would have it, the particular news channel I tuned in to was running a bit on whether or not the companies that go “pink” during the month of October, obstensibly raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness month, were in fact being corporate pigs; greedily feeding at the trough of a cancer that will be diagnosed in 211,000 women AND in 43,300 men…this year alone. The theory was that while these companies give a percentage of the sales of certain of their items to Breast Cancer research, they in fact see their profits raised dramatically because of the exposure they get for this emphasis. Having worked in corporate America for a great deal of my adult life, I didn’t find myself all that surprised that Big Business is out to make money. In fact, I wrote down the names of several of the companies (Yoplait being one) and decided to send a little money their way if for no other reason than they are helping to highlight a disease that one day may have a cure.
As the segment faded into another depressing story that is so typical of the evening news, I let my mind slip away to the women in my own life who have been confronted by this diagnosis. Not so long ago, I could honestly say that Breast Cancer was something that many women face…just not women I knew. Today that has changed and I wanted to take just a moment to cast a small spotlight on one woman who changed my perspective on this dreaded disease.
Her name is Vicki. She was my former boss; one I often found myself at odds with. Let’s just say, she was a “tough cookie.” And yet, despite our rocky tenure together, she has become one of my heroes. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, this driven corporate executive, faced her diagnosis like any “typical New York Jewish woman” (that’s how she described herself to me in our first meeting) – with a little complaining, a stiff upper lip and a “damn good bottle of wine.” She followed up her diagnosis with research – lots and lots of research. She then sought out the the best specialists around and charged headlong into the difficult regiment of treatments they prescribed. Following her abreviated recovery, Vicki did something that shocked the heck out of just about everyone around her. She went and had a complete face lift. She had only recently returned to work when I met her for the first time. Now somewhere in her mid-50’s, she was, and is, a stunning looking lady. It wasn’t too long after I accepted her job offer, that she told me of her diagnosis and of her recent “work.” She made it all sound so like everyday life. There was a point during the time that I worked for her where she had a bit of a scare. In the back of her eyes, I could see the fear, and yet she held her head high and with amazing focus, went about her job, never really letting on just how frightened she was. When the results came back negative, she took me out for sushi and saki to celebrate! I have thought about that “celebration” many times since and I’ve come to believe that she stored a lot of pent up fear that translated into a nearly maniacle work ethic.
Over the past few years I have thought about Vicki a lot. This strong woman was nearly brought to her knees by a disease that presents its self in more and more people each and every year. And yet, through all of the tough times, she managed to provide a sort of roadmap on how to navigate the difficulties that life offers – stay strong, get informed, do what you gotta do and when you’re done…go get a face lift.
This year I encourage all of us to spotlight the women in our lives who have faced down this killer disease. Let them know that you are proud of them. Then join me in supporting those companies who donate to Breast Cancer Research.
To Vicki I say “Thank you!” Thank you for your determination and resolve in what must have been one of the most challenging points of your life. Most of all, thank you for your strength, your smiles and your example!
Who are your heroes this Pink October?