Author, Be Radiant, Breast Cancer Awareness, Inspirational Speaker

Perspectives On A Pink October

Breast Cancer Awareness Pumpkin for October

October is always my “crazy, busy” month.  Or, at least, it has been ever since I had breast cancer.   The brand marketer in me knows that since October is the month designated for breast cancer awareness there will be a flurry of activity as everyone jumps on the band-wagon.  And, sure enough, when October hits my book sales climb, speaking engagements occur, and social media is more active.

This year is starting out no differently, as I look at my schedule of speaking events and book signings in October.  Each year, as pink October starts, I think of the many women who are uncomfortable with Breast Cancer Awareness month.  There are many good reasons for that, as for many women, celebrating pink seems to trivialize breast cancer. I understand that.  May I say, my breast cancer was far from trivial!

The marketer in me understands that if Pink October stimulates awareness of breast cancer, a few things might happen; funding might get to the breast cancer researchers, loved ones may talk to each other about breast cancer, and patients might actually think of and get their mammograms.

So, what should we do?   Pink October is not a cure.  It is not simply funky tutus and an opportunity to party.   It is an opportunity to bring breast cancer insights into the light.  During an event last year, a fellow speaker shared that over 38% of women do NOT get a mammogram.  Wow!  During another speech, I learned of research studies identifying how to prevent metastases of HER2 breast cancer.  Those speeches occurred precisely because it was Breast Cancer Awareness month.

It occurred to me, that in fact, that is what Pink October is all about.  It is not about being trivial, it is about being accessible.  It is a symbolic representation of something that women must pay attention to: breast cancer,  For those who have not had it, breast cancer is a big scary concept. Pink is not.  Perhaps because of the wearing of pink this year, next year the number of those women not getting a mammogram will drop. Perhaps because of a pink event, a little more funding will make it’s way into the researcher’s budget.  Perhaps when a newly diagnosed person sees pink, they will have a little bit of hope in simply knowing how many others are on this breast cancer journey.

I don’t know that there is any way to measure the impact of Pink October.  I can only hope that a little pink is a unifying rallying cry against cancer.  That in the end, the gentleness of pink brings people to the conversation and then loudly shouts to the world that breast cancer is anything but trivial.

Be Radiant, faith

The Gift of a Wrong Number

 

A few years I met a spectacular woman, Natoshia.  Here is the story, it was all a “mistake!”  You see, she had made a call, only to discover she had dialed the wrong number.  But, my friend, who answered the phone, chatted with her a little bit and told her she should meet me.  And so, meet we did.

Natoshia is beautiful, inside and out.  My friend introduced us because we both were interested in supporting other women.  I had just launched my book Living Like A Lady When You Have Cancer.  Natoshia had launched a business entitled Wiggin’ It, a company designed to help women with wigs due to hair loss.  But, what really connected us was God, faith, and love of humanity.

So, fast forward a few years and I do more and more work, speaking, and writing around the idea of radiance.  When it was time to do a few videos, Natoshia quickly popped to mind as someone who could share radiance in such a beautiful way.

Radiance is something that can not just be talked about, it needs to be lived.  Natoshia lives it in ways I can only dream about.  Every morning, her daughter chooses a mug for Natoshia to use at school that day.  Natoshia bravely teaches fifth graders!  The mug her daughter pulled yesterday was our mug that says “Be Radiant!”  You have probably seen that mug in some of our videos.

That phrase caused Natoshia to pause yesterday.  You see, every day at school, she shares a phrase of the day with her fifth graders.  A phrase that they can use, that can motivate, that can challenge, that can empower.  Because of that mug, she shared the phrase Be Radiant!  She invited her students to learn about me, to talk about our friendship and to think about how they can be radiant for the day.

She texted me last night and shared that she thinks we are starting a Be Radiant movement.  Her message gave me chills!  The gift of a wrong number leads to a friendship, leads to sharing radiance in many different ways including with a class of fifth graders!  Perhaps this was never a wrong number, perhaps this is God giving us the absolute right numbers!

 

Be Radiant, faith

The Sounds of the Season

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There is nothing quite like attending a Christmas music concert.  The sights, the smells, the sounds, the heavenly sounds that lift our spirits and remind us what this season is all about.

Last night might have been one of the most spectacular concerts I have attended in awhile.  The Daughters of Pauline, a religious order of Catholic Sisters have a traveling choir that performed here last night, and were they ever wonderful.  Their voices were individually so beautiful and collectively, simply breath-taking.

But it wasn’t just the voices, though I could have listened to them all night.  It was so much more.  These Sisters wear habits, but they had fun dressing them up a bit with a sparkly red scarf here or a Santa cap there.  Between most of the songs, they each shared little ditties, how they became a nun, or a little about their life in a habit.  Each story entertaining, insightful and with a little nugget of spirituality.

Their program was intentional, it was about showing love, dare I say, it was about being radiant.  They brought the children in the audience on stage to sing with them.  In the next breath, they sang a tribute song to all of the loved ones in all of our lives who have served as angels to each of us.

There I sat, with my book club, soaking in the sounds and realizing that the tribute to the angels was a tribute to each of them.  As I went through cancer, it was that very book club that I referred to as some of my dearest angels through that journey.

What a spectacular way to enter into this beautiful season. Each song was carefully chosen, intentionally shared, beautifully choreographed, and exquisitely sung. The angelic sounds of Christmas music, reminding us of why we celebrate, of the love and promise Christ brings to each of us.   No wonder I couldn’t help but smiling with great Joy to the World!

 

 

Be Radiant, faith

A Touching Time-out

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I had the great fortune to speak with a wonderful group of women on Saturday, at their women’s retreat.  The talk I have been giving is entitled “And Then God Gave Me A Time Out”.  I have actually had quite a few time-outs, a shattered leg and cancer to name a few.  The talk is about what happens when we learn to sit, quietly, with God.

Backing up a bit, after I finished the cancer treatments, I embarked on writing the book Living Like A Lady When You Have Cancer.  I signed the first book to myself and wrote in part  “Always remember – you did this to make a difference, to “touch” people, to help…”  A few years later, here we are with the book continuing to sell and make a difference, and me now speaking about taking time-outs, with God.

What is the point, Donna, you may ask? The point is, all I heard about on Saturday was how I had “touched” people.  This wasn’t a large, vocal crowd.  This was a quiet, reflective crowd.  One after another, they quietly came up and grabbed my hand sharing their time-outs, what had happened in their families, how they had found God by being quiet.  Without fail, those coming up to me said that my words had “touched” them.  I was honored and yet humbled; I have no idea what I said that touched them that way.

When I spoke on Saturday, both my mother and sister were able to attend the retreat.  People who did not come up to me, came up to them.  Later both my mom and sister shared that everyone seemed to be using the same word, that they were “touched”.  That one word meant so much – that there was a connection, a meaningfulness, a reflection, a deepening of the heart, all in that “touch”.

Coming from a corporate world, the only thing that mattered was the money we made.  Now, it is not about the money, it is about touching the hearts of others.  It is about the quiet hugs, the holding of hands, the sometimes knowing and always hoping, that in sharing my time-outs, others will take their time-outs with God.

 

 

Be Radiant

A Radiant Soul

Jarmaine

 

 

 

 

Have you been watching our Be Radiant videos?  We have just started to release them, and they really are very beautiful – people sharing their radiance and how God fills each person, every single day, with his light.

At the very beginning of each video the coffee cup is placed on the table, symbolic of sitting with friends, starting your day with a bit of coffee and radiance.  In these early videos, the clank of the coffee cup is a little loud.  But, as more videos are released, you will hear that the clank has softened.  Let me tell you why.

My friend Jarmaine was battling pancreatic cancer, and boy, did she ever put up a fight.  I would visit with her and share some of the work we were doing both around cancer and around faith.  I spoke of the videos we were creating and the plan to share them and share radiance around the world, through social media.

While we were not ready to roll the videos out, it did seem that Jarmaine would find some peace and comfort from some of them.  So, quietly, behind the scenes, I started sending them to her.  She loved them and kept wanting more!  She offered one little comment, perhaps we could soften the clank of the coffee cup.  She felt that as the videos were pulling us into a quiet space to consider God, our faith, and how we could be radiant, that the clank was too jarring; it disrupted the experience we were trying to create, it got in the way of sitting quietly with God.

I met with our team, and everyone agreed Jarmaine had nailed it!  We changed the sound and the softer “clank” was perfect.  After all, the entire point of the videos is to consider God’s radiance in others, not to listen to the man-made clanking!

Jarmaine passed away this week from pancreatic cancer and we laid her to rest on Tuesday.  As the coffee cup clanked in yesterday’s video post, I thought of Jarmaine.  The softer clank is coming, listen for it and remember the radiant soul who wanted to make sure our focus was in the right place.  Rest in peace my friend…