Last night I went to a fashion show for women, and their families, impacted by breast cancer. I had just gotten in on the red eye from a long trip out West, so walking into a cocktail party filled with 300 women was an assault to my nervous system. And ladies, where was the food? No guy would have an event from 6 to 9 pm and pass a few tiny cheese puffs and call that dinner.
I will admit I had a really bad attitude. I’ve grown tired of watching NFL players and coaches wear pink. Call my cynical but these guys are thinking about killing somebody, not breast cancer. I also am very friendly with a biotech executive who is at the forefront of research for a new treatment. He walks around with a pink pin while he does the math in his head about how much money he is going to make.
I digress. I was there because a good friend lost his wife to breast cancer. His daughter started this event to honor her mom. The funds go to helping the families of N stage breast cancer patients. A very noble and frankly tough cause.
I was also there because a dear, dear friend (pictured above and in the video below taken with my phone) had as serious breast cancer as you can get and beat long odds to come all the way back. She’s a Jersey girl. Those ladies don’t go down without a scorched earth battle. After several years of declining the offer to participate in the event, this was her first year on the catwalk (with her daughter). And because I so admire her personal strength, my wife Elena and I wanted to be there for her.
After an hour of awkward cocktail party, the show began. I have been to a lot of charity events that frankly suck because they are so boring no matter how good the cause. This was entirely different. Think Chippendales only with every single person in the place balling their eyes out. The crowd was screaming at the courage of the families on the runway strutting their stuff. It was a celebration of life, of what it is to have breast cancer, what it is to be a kid with a mom who has breast cancer, and what it is to survive. And what it is to honor those who we have lost.
The organizer of the show explained that her mom was an extremely private person. Her mom suffered for ten years without telling her kids, only her husband. The organizer found out her mom was sick when she went into a coma four days before she died. Her mom had wanted to preserve the innocence of her kids’ childhood. She didn’t want the disease to take that too.
“So it’s kind of ironic that to honor the memory of my mom, who was so very private, we are having this huge party. But selfishly it gives me the chance to think of her every single moment I am working on this,” she said. Then the music started blaring, the ladies and kids started walking, the women started screaming, and we all started crying.
It was a honor to be there, a token guy in a crowd of women doing something truly amazing.