If you drove by a building with a big bra on it, would you take a second look?
You would if you drove by the American Cancer Society building and it was time for Art Prize! Art Prize is an international art competition held annually in Grand Rapids, MI. ACS decided to display their “artwork” and it comes with a clear message to all women . . .Take a second look! As women, we too often don’t take the time to check ourselves for potential signs of cancer. Our TO-DO lists are too long, and our lives most days feel too overwhelming to focus on a few minutes of much needed self-care. Now a run in our pantyhose will get our attention (and the other women around us who find it their patriotic duty to tell us our pantyhose are less than perfect). Yet to “mess up” a complicated calendar by scheduling a mammogram is exactly what could save our lives! Almost 40,000 women in the U.S. are expected to die this year from Breast Cancer. Yet because of early detection and having a quality health team, there are 2.5 million survivors in the U.S today.
Over the years, I’ve had the honor to speak at many Breast Cancer Survivor Events across the country. My goal is always to hear the sound of much deserved therapeutic laughter and share a message of facing the future with renewed hope. I think one of my favorite events is Bras Across the Grand. It’s a hilarious, heartwarming and hope-filled day where Survivors string adorably decorated bras across the Grand River. I know my mission is to inspire them, but the truth is, I am the one who truly is given the gift of inspiration. Having lost a dear friend to cancer and having a sister-in-law I am happy to call a survivor, committing myself to the fight against cancer is really quite personal to me.
I wrote a silly and fun parody about getting a mammogram. When I sing it, the women in my audiences roar with laughter and applause (probably because I had the courage to sing with my less than Beyoncé ability!). Occasionally, I will get an email from a woman who said while she laughed, she also realized she was long “over-due” for one and thanked me for the incentive to change that. Yet, every now and then a woman will write, not only did she go have her mammogram, but also was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and now proudly takes on the title of “Survivor,” making the unabashed and off-key singing absolutely worth it!
So during this month of Breast Cancer Awareness, please do more than wear pink! Put pink into action, volunteer, fundraise and yes, go get your mammogram! Be sure to remind all the wonderful women in your life to do the same! NO delays or excuses! Do whatever it takes to make sure they get the message of the importance of this screening . . . and I’ll promise not to sing!