week six… the one who does it all

November 4th, 2012- a day to celebrate a 10-year survivor, my sister, Jeannie.  But rewind 10 years,  November 4th ,2002- a day we would like to forget.  The words, “you have cancer,” were unbelievable and devastating.  But to my 30-year old sister, it was the day she stepped up to the plate, ready for the fight of her life.  She had been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and had a long road ahead. Thinking back on her journey, she would agree, there was a large down side; lumpectomy, chemo, radiation, hair loss, nausea, dozens of doctor appointments, and a hysterectomy.  But all this is overshadowed by the life lessons and good that have come since that day.  She learned to take small steps to get to a goal, especially in fighting breast cancer.  She learned to surround herself with positive people and positive stories. She learned not to sweat the small stuff.  She has met so many new people along her journey;  some that have given her courage to keep fighting and some that she has been able to inspire with hope.  She has never questioned “why?”, but instead, “what can I do to help.”  She learned what her true strength is, the meaning of faith and the power of hope.  Her favorite quote, “what lies behind us and before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Jeannie’s daughter at the Race for the Cure

During my sister’s battle, she organized her first Race for the Cure team, one that rallied family, friends, doctors and nurses alike, to join together in celebrating her journey.  This year will be her tenth year for a team.  The day touches our hearts just the same as the very first race we attended.  We are so proud to be in the presence of such strong women and men who have won the battle, and just as aware of the strength of those we have lost to the disease.   For this is why my sister continues to join Komen in finding a cure.  She too has lost a dear friend and made her a promise that she would continue the fight.

Jeannie and friends at the 2009 Race for the Cure

This diagnosis certainly was not my sister’s plan for her life at the age of 30, but today could not imagine her life without THIS plan.  She believes this has made her the person she is today and defined her mission in life. She strives to make a difference in the lives of those touched by breast cancer and hopes one day to prevent any others from the battle.   She reaches out to any newly diagnosed women to answer questions, listen, and cheer them on.  Jeannie has been able support and encourage our three aunts that have been diagnosed since her journey. She also helps Komen Cincinnati in any way possible.  She organizes survivor gift bags each year for the Race for the Cure along with family and friends, she volunteers for many Komen events to raise breast cancer awareness, and has appeared on news programs promoting self-detection and yearly exams.  She believes strongly in their cause.  She has even inspired her daughter, Hope, who has had a lemonade stand raising money for the Race, remembering each dollar is another step closer to finding a cure.
So this November 4th we will celebrate the life of one of the strongest people I know, my sister Jeannie.  We will place ten pink flamingos in her front yard, one for each year of survival.  This is an annual family ritual that reminds my sister to smile because she is a SURVIVOR.   The flamingo represents grace and beauty,   both of which she has displayed on her journey.  She encourages others to celebrate their “day” with something that inspires them as well.  We look forward to herding a flock.

Jeannie’s flamingos!

Advertisements

week four… man with a passion

When the Komen Greater Cincinnati Affiliate needs help, there is one man who we can always  call in to get the job done. Bill Teater has a passion for showing support to the women in our community. It started with a Bridal Show but Bill’s connection to the affiliate has become so much more.

Here is his story, as told by his daughter Stephanie:

Stephanie Teater and her dad Bill. At this year’s Power of the Promise Awards night. This is one of the many events that would not be the same without Bill.

Eight years ago, my dad started a bridal show and partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation in order to bring more visibility to the show.  I am sure my dad had no idea how that decision would impact him in the future. Dad also thought it would be great if actual survivors could model in the fashion show.  Komen was quick to help set this up.  The thought was that young women in the audience would see that this is not just a disease that attacks older women.  He wanted to encourage young women to be proactive about early detection and awareness by seeing younger survivors on stage. The dramatic part was that nobody would know that many of the models were survivors until the end of the show.  He was hoping this decision would have a bigger impact on the viewers. Komen would also have a booth at the event to talk to young women and encourage them to be proactive regarding their health in this area. The first year was a success, and a bond was formed for my dad with the organization.

The impact was significant to my father.  That first year of the show, while
being stressful from a production standpoint, was extremely emotional for
dad.  He would constantly talk about the great battles that many of the
models had fought. These young women inspired my dad with
their courageous stories of survivorship, their strength, and hope for a
future without breast cancer.  He was in awe of these unbelievable ladies
going through such horrific battles and showing such a resilient spirit.
As the first show was finishing, he vowed he wanted to do more; He
wanted to be more involved.  He wanted to help more in the fight.  He
didn’t want to see anyone lose the battle.  Dad got more connected becoming
a sponsor at Race for The Cure, and trying to help out where ever he
could.

One of the beautiful survivors at the Bridal Show!

The one thing Dad feared most since starting this show has occurred three different times; Three of the survivor models lost their battle with this terrible disease.  Each time it happened, I have seen my father get more committed to helping so that others can win the battle and imagine a world without breast cancer!  Each year since 2005, the bridal show has been able to increase it’s donation to Susan G. Komen, and knowing how my dad works I know that will continue to happen each year.  Great Day Producions may be the company he owns, but his passion is helping in the fight against breast cancer!

be inspired.. week one

Can you believe it? September 29, 2012, will mark Susan G. Komen for the Cure Greater Cincinnati’s 15th Annual Race for the Cure. Over the past 15 years, each of us has been given reasons to fight for the cure for breast cancer. In the 15 weeks leading up to  the 2012 Race for the Cure, we will  be sharing with you just a few of the countless inspiring stories that have made our Affiliate what it is today. These stories will come from individuals who have helped in the trenches to give local women a fighting chance against this disease. These individuals are not only survivors, but are also co-survivors, grantees, sponsors, and volunteers. These are 15 lives that have forever changed the lives of thousands of others.  We hope you take the time to read each one… we promise you’ll be inspired!

Jean Lambers Bode and her entire family run, walk and fundraise each year in the Komen Greater Cincinnati Race for the Cure. The longtime commitment and passion that they have to make certain that others that are diagnosed with breast cancer have all the services and resources they need to fight and win their battle.

Nancy and friends at the 1999 Race for the Cure

Nancy and friends at the 1999 Race for the Cure
From left to right: Lisa Tanner (Nancy’s best friend,) Peggy Isenogle (1999 Race Chair,) Jen Armbruster (Nancy’s cousin and Volunteer,) Nancy Lambers Bresser, Jean Bode (Nancy’s big sister,) Cathy Westrich (Survivor and Volunteer.)

Jean writes:
My little sister Nancy did not do one amazing thing, she just simply was amazing.  Nancy Lambers Bresser was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 days after her 25th birthday, and passed away just shy of her 30th. During that time, she brought joy, hope and lived with serenity.  She did not set out to become a warrior in the fight against breast cancer, but she led the charge none-the-less. When our family searched for support we found a friend in Komen Cincinnati and the Race for the Cure. During her last year, Nancy was unable to walk unaided, but during the 1999 Race for the Cure, while proudly wearing her Number 1 Survivor Bib and pink hat, she was prompted by her best friend Lisa to get out of her wheelchair as they neared the finish line. Nancy with her beautiful smile, and shaky legs, courageously finished her Race walking by herself!  She was surrounded by a tear-filled crowd of family, friends and strangers, who all understood what they were witnessing.

Our family and friends continue to be proud supporters of the Komen Cincinnati Race for the Cure and were blessed when the Nancy Lambers Bresser Serenity Award was created in 2000, to honor those who lives have been touched by breast cancer. Nancy was so much more than a person with breast cancer; she was a wife, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, cousin, niece, and kindergarten teacher. In all those roles she simply lived the life she was given in peaceful acceptance and serenity. I continue the fight for her; I just wish I was doing it with her.  As Nancy said, “All is well.”

Nancy inspired her family to fight so those diagnosed with breast cancer have a chance to win their battle. Who inspires you? Share your inspiration and know we will finish this fight together!

Small Moments Trigger Big Movements

Why Volunteer Coordinator-Extrodinaire, Chris Siciliano, chooses Komen Greater Cincinnati.
Have you ever had a moment while doing something small, that has triggered something inside of you so strong you decide you HAVE to do something about it?
That happened to me in 2004. I was in New York City participating in my very first Race for the Cure, and I was filling out the placard to put on my back during the walk. As I started listing the women that I was walking in Memory of and in Honor of, I realized it was going to take me two full cards! Two cards full of my friends, my great-grandma, and my grandma. It gave me a lot to think about during those 3.1 miles from Times Square through Central Park. More than 40,000 people participated in the race that day and I was amazed at the stories being told around me and reading the cards on all of those backs. Most of all, following the race was the Survivor Ceremony, and hearing women introduce themselves and telling how long they had been survivors…2 years, 17 years, 33 years…3 weeks. Seeing so many people united made me want to get more involved.
In 2010, I lost my job after almost 9 years with the same company. Sitting at home was driving me crazy. I didn’t have any money to spend and I had nothing but long days with a lot of time on my hands. I received the Komen Greater Cincinnati E-newsletter. This particular edition, they were asking for committee members for the 2010 Race for the Cure. I emailed back and said that I was interested in volunteering. I walked in to the office thinking that maybe I would help on a committee, and I walked out the Volunteer Coordinator for the entire Race!
Driving home, I immediately called my mom to tell her what I had done, and that I had volunteered her to help me. Normally, I would have given her a choice in helping me but this day was a little different. My mom said not a problem and took off work for that Friday and Saturday of Race weekend!
The 2010 Race day was September 25th. As excitement grew and volunteers started rolling in, I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. I also took Friday off of work so that I could help with set up. My mom and I arrived and helped organize the boxes and boxes. I was at the Great American Ball Park by 5:00AM. It was a beautiful fall morning, clear and just crisp enough to keep you cool while getting everything started. As the sun came up, both my mom and dad were busy checking volunteers in and pointing them in the direction of their committees. My mom and dad and the team that I had in the volunteer booth made the event one that I will never forget.
As the volunteers arrived and the sponsors set up, I was able to look around and see first-hand that the day was going to be extraordinary. At the sun moved higher in the sky and the 18,000 participants began gathering along Nuxall Way for the start, the buzz in the air proved that we were making a difference in the world. 5 kilometers/ 3.1 miles is not a very long way, but it is a long way when 18,000 people are united for one cause. The crowd united as one voice, shouting together that breast cancer will not beat us; it is not stronger than us. As the competitive runners came through the finish line and then the walkers, you could see a sense of accomplishment on each of their faces. They just made a contribution to the millions of supporters and survivors around the world.
                                                                 Above: Chris (far right), her family and volunteers at the 2010 Race for the Cure.
About that time, my brother, sister in-law, and nephew, Jae, were participating in the kids fun run. Jae was about 19 months old, as they brought him out on the field his eyes lit up. What a cool experience for a little kid. Heck, what a cool experience for the big kids (like me…and my parents)! With the music playing over the stadium speakers, Jae would run a few steps and then stop to dance…run a few steps and then stop to dance. This went on all the way down the third base line! At the finish when he received his completion medal, he was so proud. He showed everyone that he saw and held onto it until he fell asleep in the car. One tiny little step in support of his great-grandma.With everything that happened that day, I can say that September 25, 2010 was probably in the top rankings of best days of the year for me.
I am fortunate that I have found an organization that does work I believe in. Once I started volunteering with Komen Cincinnati, I wanted to find more ways to help. I was also lucky enough to find a job not long after I started volunteering. I still don’t have a lot of money to donate but I still have plenty of time. I volunteer with Komen in many other ways other than the Race. I have been happy to help by selling raffle tickets, honored to help on the field at the Red’s Mother’s Day game, assist at the Power of a Promise awards and help at the Q102 Bosom Ball, featuring Sara Bareilles (2011 Grammy Nominee!).I love being a part of the Komen Greater Cincinnati team. I am excited that new volunteer opportunities are coming up all the time and can’t wait to start working on the Race again! I highly encourage anyone to join our efforts. We will have hundreds of volunteer positions open for the 2011 Race so SAVE THE DATE: September 24, 2011. (But don’t worry; you probably won’t have to be there at 5:00AM!)

A special thanks to Chris for her contribution!