Dear Fabulous Ladies,
As you know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and once again I’m taking the opportunity to share publicly my heartfelt gratitude for my own immense blessings and to shout from the rooftops about the critical importance of early detection and prevention.
Sadly, I don’t know a soul whose life hasn’t been touched in some way by breast cancer. In the past year alone, unfortunately I can say with confidence that either you or a woman you adore has had a scare or has been diagnosed or is undergoing treatment or has tragically lost her battle. So I take this opportunity to remind you, my friends, that you are empowered to make a difference for yourselves and in the lives of others:
• If you are due (or overdue) for a mammogram, please call today to schedule it. If you’ve never been before and are scared to go, or if you continually put off appointments because you dread them, know that if you live within driving distance I would be honored to go with you and hold your hand in the waiting room. I’ll even take you out afterwards for lunch or a glass of wine or a big hot fudge sundae.
• If you detect something even mildly suspicious, go have it checked out right away! Be proactive about asking questions, and push for further testing if you feel it’s necessary. You need to be your own advocate! Being “reasonably sure it’s nothing” isn’t enough in this case.
• If a woman you know has a strong family history of breast cancer and suspects she may have a BRCA gene mutation, urge her to have genetic testing. Or give her my number and have her get in touch with me for encouragement and support to do it. Or my sister’s always more than willing to kick someone’s butt! Getting the results of the test is truly the scariest part of that whole experience. Knowledge is power!
• If you know someone who is undergoing treatment, find out if and how you can be of help. But remember that everyone is different, and you need to be respectful of and sensitive about how she chooses to handle things. I know some women who have wanted loads of support and company, and others who bristle at the thought of one more person tipping their head slightly, lowering their voice woefully, frowning and asking, “How are you?”
• If you’re lucky enough to have healthy breasts, help fund research for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Make a donation to support the pursuit of a cure to one of the many extraordinary organizations doing invaluable, life-changing work in this area. Don’t ever think that what you can give is too insignificant – every dollar can make a difference to women who are courageously battling for their lives.
I treasure your friendship—no, make that your sisterhood—more than you can ever know, and I want to make sure we’re always there for each other to share life’s joys and sorrows. I count on my girls to gossip with . . . and giggle with . . . and shop for shoes and lipstick and purses with (because accessories don’t care how fat we’ve gotten!) . . . and share martini toasts with . . . and roll our eyes in unison about incorrigible significant others . . . and cry with over sappy, happy stuff . . . and pick each other up when we’re down in the dumps . . . and go on extravagant gastronomic adventures with . . . and be snarky and catty with (preferrably while wearing the aforementioned fabulous shoes and drinking the martini) . . . and commiserate with about little darlings who clog toilets and splash pee on the baseboards . . . and share pie-in-the-sky dreams with . . . and reminisce with about important things like prom and Barry Manilow and first loves and pub crawls and epidurals . . . and have legendary bitchfests with . . . and share words of encouragement and advice with . . . and swap insipid pop trivia with . . . and support and listen like only women can.
In honor of you ladies, and in memory of my beautiful, beloved mom who lost her battle at age 63 nearly four years ago, I have made a donation today to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I hope you’ll do something generous this month – for yourself or for the benefit of other women – to support breast health. Be vigilant, be courageous, be empowered.