Over the past year, and particularly as we began work on PRP 4, we asked ourselves a couple of big questions. How can we do more for the breast cancer community? What would “more” look like to those facing a breast cancer diagnosis or those who are living with metastatic breast cancer. We knew we needed answers to help us move forward, but those answers did not lie with any of us. The answers lie with those who have lived through breast cancer and those who are living with it today. And so we asked, listened, and learned ways that we could begin to do more.
One of the most clarifying answers to our wonderings came to us by way of a blog post written by Beth Caldwell, an American woman living with and advocating for metastatic breast cancer who explains that “it’s not about being part of the community that needs help, but about standing with them and using our privilege to help them.” Our privilege of being healthy or of surviving cancer. And that “an ally is someone who not just cares about a community in need, but also does something to support them. And what that something is, is what the community says it needs, not what allies think that community needs.” As we moved through planning PRP, these words shaped our thoughts and even some of our words that night. Guidance like that, coupled with talking to patients, researching, and participating in other advocacy efforts have helped us move towards becoming a strong ally for those facing breast cancer.
|Photo credit : Em Rose Photography|
|For more PRP Photos please see Emily’s Blog or the full gallery|
One of the biggest ways we can use our privilege of health is by hosting Pink Ribbon Project. It takes a team to do it and we all give of our time, energy, and experience to make it happen. Our team is mindful and deliberate in the messages that we share regarding breast cancer. Our focus remains on honouring all breast cancer experiences, as they are all unique and important; while still sharing the entire breast cancer story. That story includes metastatic breast cancer. Only when we share the whole story, all the possibilities and realities, are we truly honouring all and educating in a way that may serve others. Only when we include all experiences, can we find ways to support people, regardless of the type, stage, and prognosis of the disease.
For us, this concept of “more” is not an end, a measurable to be reached, a check box to be ticked. It’s just the beginning. We see now that “more” will evolve with our experiences with loved ones living with breast cancer and our interactions with the community. It will change in response to levels of funding for metastatic research, access to treatments, and the ever changing landscape in cancer research.
While we don’t know exactly what “more” will look like in terms of our work, we are extremely fortunate to know exactly what “more” looks like when we ask it of our community.
“More” looks like partners and sponsors who have supported us again and again, even through the uncertain times in our economy. It looks like friends who travel to be here and friends who stay late, like really late to visit with us once the work is wrapped up! It looks like the familiar faces who grace PRP every year and bring with them friends who have never been. It looks like vendors who bring our vision to life, giving of their time and talents knowing the budget is tight. “More” looks like hugs, handshakes, circles of friends, and a balance of tears and smiles.
“More” is when things changed suddenly before PRP and we had to say……. we have an important story we want to share with you, but we can’t tell it in the way we intended to. You listened anyway. “More” sounds like being able to hear a pin drop in that room as we told you. It sounds like a story that highlighted the reality and uncertainty of living with metastatic breast cancer………. “More” sounds like you telling us that you were glad we told you the story anyway, that you understood and you cared. It sounds like us telling the whole story about breast cancer, even though it isn’t easy to hear.
PRP 4 was truly an incredible evening and we are proud to share that this year we were able to raise $22,000 to be shared between the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Breast Cancer Network! The work of both these organizations is vital to those facing breast cancer. We are proud to support their efforts in our province and across the country.
~ Carmen Powell
On behalf of the Full Circle Foundation & PRP committee