, October 20, 2017 | More Post by

Welcome to our “Pink Link Stories” blog series! These stories are from women who are a part of (or support) Here for the Girls’ virtual Pink Link community for breast cancer survivors (pinklink.org). Each quarter, we offer a new writing prompt — this quarter, we asked women to share their thoughts about breast cancer awareness. We will publish a few of those entries* here (lightly edited for length and typos).

I am a 12 year survivor and even after all that time, I will never forget the devastating phone call 12 years ago: “Mary Jo, I am so sorry to tell you this, but you have breast cancer.” Those words changed my life and changed my life forever. Those words changed my life in the most wonderful way. I couldn’t have said this at the beginning, but because of all the love and support I received from God and many, many friends, I learned what life is really about! It’s about supporting one another through love and realizing that our purpose here has nothing to do with “stuff” and all that.

Each October when Breast Cancer Awareness month arrives, it’s a beautiful reminder to me of all the love and support I received. It reminds me, once again, to be there for others — through prayer, personal contact, a supporting note or a phone call. It reminds me to share my heart in loving ways because life is short. Hearing the words, “you have cancer” reminds one of their mortality. So, I use my time here on earth, to love others and to be that support system we all need.

Sadly, this month a best friend of mine was diagnosed with triple negative, stage 1 breast cancer. I thank God that I have walked the road before her and now I can be the source of love and support she desperately needs right now. The struggle is hard and so very frightening when it begins.

Pink… a color that is beautiful and a color we relate to breast cancer. That color, though, always reminds me of the journey… the struggle and the blessings this tough disease brings.

-Mary Jo

, September 14, 2017 | More Post by

Melissa Weaver and the Good Health Fairy (a.k.a. H4TG Co-Founder Rene Bowditch) at the Pink Carpet Gala 2017.

Melissa Weaver, a current volunteer and Boober! who was also a volunteer group facilitator for Beyond Boobs!, shares why she’s Here for the Girls:

I was broken, battered, and bald, and that’s when the my love affair with Beyond Boobs! (Here for the Girls) began. I had just received my second dose of “the red devil” when I attended my first BB! retreat. It was at this magical place that I learned, for the very first time, that I was no longer alone. Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing support system, but as any breast cancer survivor knows, until we have walked the road we cannot fully understand the terrain. I do not know if it was the food, new friends, or fantastic weather, but I knew that I was finally home.

The concept of time takes on a very different meaning after cancer. The desire to go one more year without receiving a visit from the stalker and the need to have the beautiful moments of life frozen forever happens simultaneously. Through this uncertain journey, this amazing organization has been a constant presence and source of unwavering support. These women truly understand the special challenges faced by individuals receiving a cancer diagnosis. We have traded conversations about shopping for shoes for conversations about selecting the best breast surgeon. Instead of chats about the latest hair style, we are discussing the latest wig options. Don’t be fooled though, we laugh, we cry… and we sometimes do talk about shoes.

The truth is we are forever changed and will forever be tied to one another. When you meet another cancer “thriver” you instantly feel a connection that is deep and life changing. Beyond Boobs! was a lifeline at a time when I was drowning in the idea of an uncertain future. It was through this organization that I found a purpose, passion, and place in this ever changing landscape.

-Melissa

, August 09, 2017 | More Post by

Natalie Bare was one of our Starlets of Dance in 2015! Here she is at that event.

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

I would say deciding to start figure skating as an adult has been a defining moment in my life. Skating has taught me discipline and perseverance and how to have fun and laugh at myself. I was able to keep skating during my chemo and radiation treatments. It was good to have something normal to keep going to. Since starting skating I have won two national metals the first one came to weeks after my diagnosis and then the second one came this year in April. Skating is giving me a whole group of friends of a variety of ages from children to octogenarians who inspire me and keep me going.

-Natalie Bare

, August 09, 2017 | More Post by

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

When my one and only child was born on Aug 22, 2009, I learned about my capacity for love and what my purpose was on this earth (Newsha and her daughter are pictured left). I felt a love I had NEVER felt before, and I was shocked by it. As a girl I was incredibly attached to my grandmother. When I met my husband, I fell so wildly in love that I feared that I could not handle it. But when Azi was born, I just stared and stared at her in awe with my heart, that was overflowing with love for this being; I felt disbelief that she grew inside me, and a daunting fear that she would somehow get hurt.

Years of doubt about my purpose in life were erased when I realized I had to work so hard to feed, protect and grow this child into a good world citizen. I learned to be less self-centered and suck it up and put on a happy face sometimes, especially during chemo. I learned to love others more and push aside embarrassment in order to take care of my daughter. She changed me completely.

-Newsha Dau

, August 09, 2017 | More Post by

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

When I was in college, I went through Rush, however, I did not get selected by a sorority. Surprisingly, looking back, I am glad that no one picked me. Because, later that semester, the school’s administration decided that the female students had more interest in belonging to a sorority than the current four could handle. They decided to ask another sorority to found a chapter on our campus, which I joined. We were a small but mighty group of women who bonded immediately and created memories and traditions that the chapter still continues. During the remaining years at school, those women became my closest friends and many still are today.

Fast forward 20+ years to homecoming in the fall of 2016. I had been diagnosed the previous July and was up at homecoming with my family. Unbeknownst to me, my husband and friends had contacted the current chapter of women at my school and had created a “Titan Strong” (Titan is our mascot) t-shirt for everyone to wear in support of me. I came around the corner to the Chapter Room and there stood 41 college students with the t-shirt on. Now, these women didn’t know me, I didn’t know them, but because we are sisters, they did everything they could to support me. They wrote letters of encouragement to me, my husband and my children. One of them had #katystrong buttons made and another’s mom knitted me a prayer shawl. There were a lot of tears shed that day, but they were happy tears because of the love that I felt from each one of these women.

What I have come to realize from 20+ years ago is that sisterhood has no boundaries. Distance, age, generation or background does not define who a sister can be. I have been welcomed as a sister throughout my life into organizations I never believed would have such an impact on my life. We had an expression in my sorority that has stayed with me throughout my life, “Love in our bond.” To me this is sisterhood defined and has been a guiding principle of my life for the last 20+ years.

-Katy Loy

, August 04, 2017 | More Post by

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

A time that made a big impact on my life was when I passed my Pharmacy Technician exam. I knew this new career change would be challenging and would allow me to be able to work anywhere. This  is a great thing because I would love to live in another state and see what life has to offer myself and my daughters.

-Letoria Boykin

, August 03, 2017 | More Post by

Welcome to our “Pink Link Stories” blog series! These stories are from women who are a part of (or support) our virtual Pink Link community for breast cancer survivors (pinklink.org). Each quarter, we offer a new writing prompt — this quarter, we asked women to share a story about genetic predisposition and breast cancer. We will publish a few of those entries* here (lightly edited for length and typos). (* Due to the number of entries, we cannot guarantee all entries will be posted on our blog and we reserve the right to post based on our discretion.) 

Inheritance played a lot in my diagnosis and I didn’t even know it. My mom died of a rare type of lung cancer called mesothelioma at 49. Her dad died of esophageal cancer. But there was no breast cancer at all on either side of my family until my second cousin’s daughter on my mom’s side was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36. It turns out, her dad (my second cousin) had the bRCA2 gene. He never had cancer and he is in his 70s.

Unfortunately, this information was not shared with me since I am not close to this side of the family. I was diagnosed six years later with stage 1 HER2 at 42 with the BRCA2 gene. Looking back, it was a missed opportunity for me to be an advocate for my own health. If I would have understood hereditary breast cancer risks, I would have pushed to be tested years ago.

-Christina

, July 28, 2017 | More Post by

2018 calendar model Jamie Vanek and her kids on her favorite trail near her home.

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

Meet Calendar Model Jamie Vanek

10 years ago I uprooted my life to move to a state that I hated with a man that I loved. I hated everything about Virginia until I discovered Newport News’ little treasure, the Noland Trail. When my husband first showed it to me I told him I couldn’t run 5 miles. But later, it is on this trail that I fell in love with running and truly accepted my new home. From this trail I trained for my first marathon, planned our new house, explored with our children, and pondered life. So much has happened in 10 years and so much of it has happened around this location.

-Jamie

, July 26, 2017 | More Post by

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

Meet Calendar Model Cheri Lavalle

November 20, 2007 was the day I married my best friend Hector. He has been the most remarkable person in my life. He has cared and supported me through the most traumatic time of my life which is breast cancer. He has told me how beautiful I am with no hair, how strong I am at my weakest moment and how much he loves me even though cancer has consumed the past 3 years of our marriage. I  cannot imagine my life and this journey of cancer without him.

-Cheri

, July 25, 2017 | More Post by

Our new A Calendar to Live By 2018 will be unveiled at the Pink Carpet Gala on September 9, and we’re so excited that the big day is almost here! We’re offering you a brief introduction to the 2018 calendar girls team here on our blog – we asked them to share a story about one of their life-shaping moments and we’ll post the responses here over the next few weeks. We hope you’ll come meet these women at the Gala! Click HERE for a link if you’d like to learn more or get tickets!

Meet Calendar Model Miki Fett

Unbelievably, moving to Hawaii with my handsome new groom was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life (besides beating cancer!). It was a year of changes and adjustments… I had never been this far away from family and friends, my husband and I had never even lived in the same state.

A year later, once we had it all figured out, he was deploying for 15 months. I was going to be alone, on an island, far from home. A week after his deployment, a kind voice on my answering machine said her husband sat by my husband on the plane to Kuwait, had mentioned that his wife needed a friend, and passed along my number. Should I call her back, I wondered? She took a chance by calling me so I gave it a shot.

11 years later, we are still the best of friends.  We’ve been through and hell and back together. During that 15 month deployment, we bonded with six other ladies too (we’re all pictured here) and they’ve all taught me life lessons… the biggest one being that blood does not make you family. It is the experiences and bonds shared, being sisters for one and another that does. I have a wonderful blood and unrelated family, these ladies have had the largest impact on my life and I carry a piece of them with me always. We are the Band of Sisters and my life was forever changed by making that phone call.

-Miki