Hi, friends. As many of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
While I'd always supported breast cancer awareness, a few years ago breast cancer did more than touch my life–it punched me straight in the heart. I want to share my friend Michelle's story with you and also let you know about an amazing way YOU can honor someone for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Bank of America has launched a new microsite in partnership with Susan G. Komen™, Everyday Portraits …but more on that later.
I'll never forget the call I got from my friend Michelle. Michelle is a reporter and anchor here in Seattle at KIRO-TV, the CBS affiliate. She is used to dealing with incredibly difficult situations with poise and grace. But in the summer of 2009, I got a phone call that changed my life. Michelle told me she had SEEN a lump in her breast–and it was cancer.
Michelle is one of the most beautiful people I know. Darling features and figure, bubbly personality, kind and funny–she's one in a million. If Seattle had an official sweetheart, it would be Michelle. She's the kind of girl who women want to be friends with and men want to marry. There is NO ONE who doesn't love Michelle…which is why the realization that she was going to be fighting for her life was so painful.
She was calm as she told me there was a treatment plan and she'd be getting excellent care. Things started happening fast and all of it was terrifying.
In July of 2009 Michelle was diagnosed with Stage 2b breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy.
It's been years, but even as I write about it now, the tears are springing to my eyes.
What happened next?
Post-mastectomy, this former D-cup chose NOT to wear her prosthetics. She just didn't care much about appearances. She was incredible. The picture above is from Fall 2009. Michelle had just cut her hair to get ready for five months of chemotherapy and the chance her hair would fall out…which it did.
Sometimes I went to Michelle's chemo appointments with her. As scary as the circumstances were, I loved being with her, telling stories and laughing…even though I'd often look over and realize she had nodded off in the middle of one of my stories.
Michelle had chemo treatments for months. It got so TOUGH, and she was so tired and sick, but she never felt sorry for herself. Her husband, Mike, her sons, her family and friends…everyone was there for her, but honestly she was the strong one.
The Last Chemo Treatment
Michelle's last chemo treatment felt like a celebration. Friends from high school, college, work–people from all different times of Michelle's life were there. I was so proud to be included. The last treatment was just a few months before her birthday.
Happy Birthday, Warrior Princess
Michelle continued to improve, and as she got stronger, she lent her strength to others battling breast cancer. I can't count how many speeches, appearances, stories and personal connections she has made since beating breast cancer herself.
In 2010, Michelle made the cover of The Monitor, the magazine for Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, Washington, where she received her treatment.
Below is a picture of Michelle from this past July. Doesn't she look amazing? I love that she was wearing pink at this recent girlfriends' lunch. She is a Pink Warrior Princess. She may look pretty–and she is–but she's so much more than that…She is pure strength.
Thanks to Bank of America and Susan G. Komen™, I will be sharing Michelle's story through the Everyday Portraits website. The purpose of Everyday Portraits is to put a face to those who have been "fearless, heroic and courageous in their fight against breast cancer."
This is such a cool program. Through Everyday Portraits WE have an opportunity to acknowledge and honor these AMAZING people. Here's how it works: You visit the site and create a portrait of the person you want to honor, whether it's a beloved friend, family member, coworker, neighbor…even yourself. All you do is load a photo of that incredible person and then write a letter or tribute and (here's the cool part) the software will actually CREATE a picture of the person made out of the text. It's SUPER COOL!
For every portrait created in the month of October, Bank of America will contribute $5 to the Susan G. Komen™.
Thank you for letting me share Michelle's story with you, and thanks to Bank of America and Susan G. Komen™ for coming together to create something to honor those who have battled breast cancer.
A big pink hug to everyone!