Did you know that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month? And do you know what color ribbon represents lung cancer? The Ribbon is White. Lung Cancer is America’s leading cancer killer and the least funded of all cancer research. Anyone can get lung cancer, from smokers to former smokers to never smokers.
I wanted to take a break from design to share this with you this message. It has touched me and I am sure has touched most of you in one way or another…
Last November 6th a wonderful woman, wife, mother and friend, Barbara Bauer lost her battle with lung cancer. This Friday, November 8th friends of Barb have come together to honor her memory with The White Ribbon Soiree to Benefit “Prelude to a Cure”, lung cancer research at Moffitt.
Here is our story of how we came together written beautifully by one of our committee members….
The five of us worked out weekly at the neighborhood fitness studio. Longtime friends Barb and Rosie trained together for years, and their sessions were filled with colorful banter, challenging workouts and lots of sweat. Debbie and I teamed up to start a regular exercise routine knowing we would each encourage the other to show up. Tonja hit the gym after work and on Saturday mornings to stay in shape. In early 2011 we felt strong and just wanted to be fit as we approached our fifties. No one could have predicted the sequence of events that would test our inner strength and create between us a bond by fire.
In February, Tonja’s younger brother called her from the hospital in West Virginia where he was admitted for ongoing severe headaches. The doctor ordered a CAT scan which revealed a malignant brain tumor and lung cancer. The position of the brain tumor required immediate surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Tonja traveled to see her brother and began researching treatment options and clinical trials. His condition worsened during the next several months.
My fiftieth birthday arrived on February 2nd as my daughter was completing fifth grade, looking forward to field trips and the end of the year bash. One morning in March I felt a lump on the right side of my breast while taking a shower. By late spring I had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and quickly prepared to undergo chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor before having a bilateral mastectomy. At night I’d lie awake wondering if the cancer had metastasized, since my surgery was not scheduled until fall. When I woke up from surgery that November the news was good: no cancer in my lymph nodes.
Barb’s fiftieth birthday was on July 4th. She and Rosie went to dinner later that week to celebrate. Barb described this time of her life as fun. Her boys were heading to college: she was passionate about her career and enjoyed traveling and spending time with friends and family. Everything was great until she noticed a lump on the side of her neck, initially suspecting an infected gland was to blame. Just to be on the safe side, she scheduled an appointment with her doctor. She was sent immediately for a biopsy and the results were tragic. Barb was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer – and she’d never smoked a cigarette in her life. The odds of surviving this form of cancer were not in her favor. She was ready to fight.
Debbie lives in a close-knit neighborhood where her best friends’ houses are just down the street and around the corner from her front door. Weekends are spent together cooking, enjoying wine, listening to music, telling stories, sharing laughter and occasionally tears. Over the next couple of years two of those friends would be diagnosed with lung cancer and one would not survive. There have been more tears lately.
Tonja and Barb grew closer, sharing updates and information about lung cancer and the side effects of treatment. Barb was even encouraging Tonja to bring her brother to Moffitt Cancer Center because of the high quality of care she was receiving and the access to clinical trials. By November, when Tonja was visiting her brother for the last time, she could not bring herself to tell Barb that he was near the end of his life. In her mind she thought, how can I say that he is dying of the same cancer that you have in your body? He passed away that December before Christmas.
We all continued to cross paths at the fitness studio as Barb went through agonizing treatments and began feeling the pain associated with her cancer. She would sometimes pause for a moment until the pain subsided to continue her workouts. I wondered why I would have more days here than she would. Having breast cancer felt like winning the lottery compared to Barb’s journey.
“No one even knows white is the ribbon color for lung cancer and it kills more people each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined,” she once said. We said goodbye to Barb last November. We will honor her memory this November during Lung Cancer Awareness month at the White Ribbon Soiree. For you, Barb, and for all of our family members and friends who have been affected by this deadly disease, let’s do what we can to support Prelude to a Cure.
Join us for the White Ribbon Soiree featuring food by Chef Dave West from the Rolling Pin and smooth jazz from saxophonist Mike MacArthur along with Dani on vocals, Friday, November 8th at Center Place for the Arts in Brandon. The VIP Sparkling hour for patrons begins at 6pm and the Soiree is from 7pm until 10pm. All proceeds benefit Prelude to a Cure. For more information on how you can help visit Prelude to a Cure.
Thank you for reading,