Shades of Pink
A charity close to our hearts...
The mission of the Shades of Pink Foundation is to provide financial assistance to women who are experiencing financial distress as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis. Because of the illness most women will have to stop working for an unspecified amount of time. This financial burden not only affects their day to day life, but it adds stress to an already trying time.
Loss of income can affect everything in their world from insurance payments, food, transportation, childcare, wigs and other essentials of daily life. Shades of Pink Foundation offers temporary financial assistance during their time in need. Belly Bandit® is proud to partner with Shades of Pink foundation and make a difference where we can.
My best friend Suzanne was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2006. She had just turned 34 years old and was a single mother of two beautiful girls. Suzanne had recently lost her husband to mental illness and prior to that she had lost her younger brother who died after a trial surgery hoping to regain touch and movement after he was rendered a quadriplegic. Suzanne's father had also passed away a few years earlier from Lou Gerigs disease. I tell you this because it sets the tone for who this woman is. Suzanne is truly the strongest and most remarkable person I have had the honor of knowing.
Suzanne's first surgery was on December 7, 2006, it was a total mastectomy and reconstruction of her right breast. After learning she had carried the BRCA gene she proceeded to remove her left breast as well and as a preventative measure chose to have a total hysterectomy including her ovaries in January of 2009. Tragedy struck again in August while she was preparing ironically enough to walk for the 2009 Susan G. Komen Cancer walk. This time she had over 25 tumors in her brain, a large tumor on the base of her spine and a few others in her lungs, liver and kidneys. She was put on a trial drug which had her traveling from her hometown of Michigan to Indiana once or twice a week. On September 28th, 2009 she was declared virtually cancer free after being placed on a trial drug. After celebrating a cancer free year Suzanne was told her cancer had come back, this time in her spinal cord. The date of October 2010, fear, shock, anger and disbelief had overcome her this time. Suzanne was to become wheelchair bound due to the tumor on her spinal fluid causing a severe impingement to her thoracic spine. Given her new limitations her family rallied to make quick adjustments around the house to accommodate this type of mobility and new equipment.
Regardless of everything she continued to go through she remained optimistic and a fighter every second of every day. Through her surgeries and treatments I have personally watched this mother of two endure a painful and tiresome struggle. I have gone through the stages and emotions with Suzanne and her family and have tried to be there for her as her best friend. We did research and found cancer friendly foods and cookbooks, I then found a chef to prepare some meals for her and her family that promoted healing. Together Suzanne and I went to pick out her "new hair" when she went through the painful transition of losing chunks of hair and eventually all of it. As a bystander it was shocking to see the astronomical cost of everything, including wigs for women in dire need to retain some sort of normalcy.
After taxing treatments, Suzanne needed a lot of rest so I spent a considerable amount of time with her young daughters in order to give her the rest she needed and deserved. Often I would think to myself… how is it possible that most cancer stricken women can afford things like childcare, wigs, time off work, help to get to and from the hospital for treatments. I am truly lucky and beyond grateful that I could be by her side to help, in my small way. This journey alongside Suzanne got me thinking, what do women do if they don't have a best friend who can help them on a day to day basis? What happens when these sick women don't have the financial means to live life with cancer. Today we have found a way to help ensure women in need have that "best friend" to help. This charity was extremely close to Suzanne's heart. Sadly on the morning of January 26, 2011 Suzanne passed away. My sisters and I honor Suzanne and her family by telling her story and giving help to women in their time of need.