Wednesday, June 29, 2011


INDIANAPOLIS - This kind of says it all. I am here, as is my son, because this wonderful man made this wonderful decision. God Bless you, George Sledge.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I'm asked to speak at different gatherings all the time. Sizes, demographics, location; all varied. This past weekend, there were more than five thousand people.

The common thread? No matter if its a church with 11 people, a business convention, a huge stadium, after every time, I always hear the same thing ...

"I've been diagnosed. I'm scared. What can/should I do/say/think/feel?"

Until I stand before a group this size and never hear the word "cancer," I'll keep going. And fighting. And praying. And hoping. And loving. All of you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I was asked yesterday if an event was "even possible, since we don't think we have a great story to inspire people." The town I was in was quite small, and they thought their attendance, motivation and subsequent contribution would be too small to matter.

Size doesn't count when it comes to giving, when it comes to love. Even the littlest of people can make an impact, if not through dollars, then through impression. I was once at an event where a little girl gave me 12 cents "for all the sick ladies I talked about." It was in a shoe store on the East coast, and I'll never forget her face. Of course we have donors that are so big, her change seems to be a drop in the bucket. But, she was 5 years old and sad about the sick ladies, so just imagine what that compassion might lead her to later in life!

My little one wrote down the "Saturday pancake" recipe that we always make. She never once questioned whether she was able to cook, whether people would find them good enough, whether it was proper. Now, 8 years of pancake-making under her belt, she wanted to make sure she wrote it down for other people. Because someone might be scared to try, and this would help, she said.

Just try!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


CALIFORNIA - Laura Ziskin took a stand, and showed many others how to do the same. She was a big-time Hollywood producer for movies like "Spider-man," "Pretty Woman" and "As Good As It Gets," and has myriad more credits to her name. She’s won awards and has had enormous influence in the movie industry.

Interestingly, however, I never even knew her as anyone but the movie-cancer lady. She created Stand Up to Cancer a few years ago while fighting her own breast cancer. There are so many of us who do little things here and there. Speak at events, throw parties, you name it – but no one else made three television networks stop everything, bring out stars and talk about cancer for a few hours.

She was crystal clear about her passion - 100 % of donations goes to collaborative research. They are making "scientific dream teams" that are changing lives right now. It’s unusual, don’t you think, that someone can make such a profound impact with her career and her passion? Thank you, Laura, for making this journey with us. And for fighting with us. And for fighting for us. And for that cool hat in the Kentucky Derby scene in Pretty Woman. Your drive and energy will never be replaced.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Arlene & Jessie

GRAND RAPIDS - Arlene and Jessie. I put their names on this blog post for the same reason their daughter/granddaughter mentions it on this page - because they matter, still. Because the loss of these woman inspired Jo-Anne and Caitlin to do something that might make a difference. Because of their fight with breast cancer their loss caused absolute anguish for her children, grandchildren and her friends. And because around the world, there are a few rare corporations that realize you can do something good for society that is also good for business.

Arlene’s daughter is Jo-Anne, Jessie's granddaughter is Caitlin. They work for a company that makes trash carts. Think about that for a moment; trash carts. While now you might know that fabulous pink cart that makes a splashy statement for your recycling, a few years ago no one would have made that connection. Jo-Anne made a simple suggestion at a company meeting - she works for an employer that "encourages its employees to think creatively and be entrepreneurial." She suggested a simple donation of every cart to the American Cancer Society, and "make ‘em pink."

Her reasons were personal, of course, but she saw a bigger image - one of the world needed to do something good for everyone. And it has caught on like wildfire, let me tell you. Jo-Anne’s tribute to her mama has put pink carts on sidewalks all over the United States and parts of Canada. Caitlin is the social media guru who brought it all to the attention of the rest of us, and so many have been touched. Caitlin said that they never expected the breast cancer community to rise around them and embrace them this much – they are just floored by the responses. I’m not at all surprised about the outpouring of emotion shown when people purchase these items and tell their stories. Not surprised one bit; my inspiration was named Roberta. I’ve not done anything nearly as grand or sweeping as Jo-Anne and Caitlin, but my mama mattered too. Our mutual love of our mothers keep driving us daily! Thank you, Jo-Anne, and Cascade Cart Solutions. You are so wonderful to help all of us survivors kick cancer to the curb!

Monday, June 13, 2011


UNITED KINGDOM - Katie is pretty, that’s for sure. She is a model, after all. She’s also a grad student at the University of Reading. She keeps a blog, but that’s hardly a unique thing for anyone nowadays. Hers is a fairly unique one, however.

She’s decided to record and blog her cancer journey. At 21, life big and looming - a promising future, and now breast cancer. She’s putting it all out there, her testing, her diagnosis, her treatment plan and now her chemo.

Worth checking out - Katie.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Tami is a fellow cancer survivor who recently contacted the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer to introduce herself to us, and to say hello. We had been aware of her on twitter for quite some time, it’s always nice to put a face with an internet name!

Tami has written a book and writes her own blog as well.

Her story is, sadly, one that I’ve heard so many, many times as I travel … she had crossed her five-year ‘all clear’ mark, then was diagnosed with a recurrence. She, of course, was given a pretty grim survival rate statistic and decided that she would basically ignore those odds. To quote Tami, “Who was she to tell me how long I have to live?” and is now three years out from that recurrence. Take that, cancer!

She is passionate about a few key things – namely, finding a cure for metastatic breast cancer. The other is connecting with all sorts of cancer groups, for all sorts of cancer. She’s out there now, and would love to connect with you … share your story with Tami!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


WINONA LAKE, INDIANA - Tracey Ann Yeager was an officer in the U.S. Navy, and on Memorial Day, there was a 5K run in her honor. Not because of the years of her incredible service to and for her country, but because she was selfless. Totally selfless. She lost her fight with breast cancer, but even in her final days, she was selfless. She was thinking about others, and I can tell you that from first-hand experience; I spoke with her just days before she passed from us. Selfless. She was a mommy, wife, runner, pilot, inspiration, friend and a model of faith. Selfless.

It’s an interesting thing, what selfless people do. I’ve learned that they inspire more than any other kind of person, and in big ways. Tracey inspired a young man (seriously young, 17 years young) to do something big, and selfless, in her memory. People going through, living with, and survivors of cancer are uniquely hit financially. We might be here, appearing to be healthy and strong; but many cancer patients are in total financial ruin. Any and all savings are completely obliterated by covering the myriad of unforeseen costs of cancer – but that’s a bigger post for another time. Nate, our 17-year-old hero, knew about these burdens because of Tracey’s journey and decided to help. Please keep in mind that he is 17 years old. Selfless.

Kosciusko County Cancer Care Fund this weekend grew by more than $20,000 because of Nate’s 5K ‘Race for Trace.' Think of how many families will benefit from this huge act of generosity, how many mommies and daddies might not have to go through quite as many sleepless nights because they don’t know how they will get gas money to go to the next treatment. Our selfless, courageous Tracey inspired our selfless, courageous Nate. I am just sitting back to watch all the good that will spill over into this community from their big, big hearts. Selfless.