This moment is still quite clear to me, even with a major case of chemo fog. Early on in my breast journey as I leaving a support group, another breast cancer survivor and I chatted as we walked to the subway. “Do people ask you what you’re going to do with your life now that you’ve had breast cancer?” she quietly asked. I thought about it for a moment and realized that I had been asked that several times. My answer was always the same, “ I’m going to live it”. I wasn’t trying to sound like a wise guy (gal) but I truly didn’t know what else to say. As so many of you know, hearing the words, “You have cancer” can set your life into a tailspin. There’s a new language to learn, words like: tumor markers, targeted therapies, Cytoxan, Adriamycin, Herceptin and let’s not forget my favorite, “side-effects”. There are decisions to be made, many so rapidly, that all I wanted to do is live. Live my life.
Even though I tucked that question into the back on my mind and got on with living, it remained a whisper of a thought. A quiet, yet very persistent whisper. “Okay, okay, I’ll listen”, I told it repeatedly.
Doing something meaningful was important and raising money for breast cancer sounded like the obvious and best place to start and my first choice was to train for the two-day Avon Walk. Family and friends were quite generous in their support and over two years I was happy with my contribution. But still the whisper persisted.
It would have been easy to continue to ignore the whisper although in truth I knew that it wasn’t in my nature. I discussed this with my husband Bob, and we came up with the perfect solution. He had been photographing himself in a pink tutu for many years. In part this was a form of self-therapy, to be able step away from what had become our life and to make me laugh. Throughout my many days of chemotherapy I would share these images with women. They were a great way to spark a conversation and of course they were always followed by laughter. Laugher- I love that stuff. His goal was to self-publish a book and make certain that it was in as many cancer centers as possible. Our goal was to donate the net proceeds to help those struggling with breast cancer.
Which brings us to now, this perfect moment. What better way to support women, and their families than to start our own non-profit? I could think of no better way and neither could the whisper. So here we are. As happy tears spill and shivers run down my arms, I am so very proud to introduce The Carey Foundation.