Monday, October 31, 2011

Feel the rain on your skin


I am back from my weekend in DC. I was honored by being invited to attend the 2nd annual Honoring the Promise for Susan G. Komen. It was held last Friday at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

I debated long and hard about whether I could go. After all I had just been in DC for the 3 day walk. It would mean buying a gown, buying tickets, re-organizing my calendar and business. Finally I thought about these past few years. I thought about the adventures I have had when I started to believe I COULD do the impossible. After Glenn stepped up and gave me some miles (so I could fly free....) I was committed and immediately knew it was the right thing.

Of course last minute Allison and Chris did the best they could to squeeze me into their busy lives. Allison was in a leadership conference and would be around until an hour or so before the event. I knew I wanted her to be my date. She scrambled and got home just in time and threw on her dress grabbed her pink shawl and loaded her be-jeweled Mom into the car and got us to DC just in plenty of time to sip a blini before going into the event.



We stood on the red carpet - looked at the beautiful lights - and the beautiful people while we waited for the doors to open.



We finally took our seats as the main players were taking their publicity photos. Below is Sarah Brown (wife of former PM Gordon Brown of the UK and recipient of the Global Award) Jennifer Beals and Nancy Brinker.





When the performance began you knew you would be in for a treat. Denyce Graves-Montgomery performed "Habanera" while an aerial artist Amanda Topaz twisted and turned and spun on a long silken ribbon.

The Master/Mistress of Ceremonies was Hoda Kotb, co-host of the Today show and by far the best, most real, delightful person I have ever seen in that capacity. Oh, and by the way she is a Breast Cancer Survivor.



The awards went to Dandra Swain MD, for her work in the DC community bringing quality care to the under privileged. The Scientific and Medical Award to Charles Perou, PHD whose research into genomic studies allowed these genoms to be analyzed in breast tumors and determine the likelihood of recurrence and there by help tailor make treatment and for example avoid chemo when not warranted. Sarah Brown won the award for Global leadership for her work in not only the UK but in other countries in particular Israel. And finally a lifetime achievement award given to Susan Ford Bales the daughter of Betty Ford, in her honor. I don't need to tell you what Betty Ford did. Before she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, people didn't say those words out loud. She single handley shattered the stigma of breast cancer.



Each of these awards had significance. All were moving. But for me the award to Dr. Perou and the award to Betty Ford were especially moving.



When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer I didn't have choices. To this day I am not sure if I needed to do the kind of destructive treatment that I followed at the time. I only knew, I had no other choice. As a result of my chemo I have scaring in my heart and damaged cells in a part of my brain. One of the survivors in the circle with me at DC benefitted from Dr. Perou's research. They determined she didn't have to have chemotherapy because of the type of Breast Cancer she had, recurrence would be a unlikely possibility.



But when Susan Ford Bales accepted the award on the behalf of her mother, I was moved to tears and was grateful I made a friend of the woman sitting next to me who gave me a Kleenex. Ms. Bales spoke with love and loss for her mother who at 93 passed away this past July. It reminded me how hard it is to lose someone we love, no matter what the age. But Betty Ford had changed many stigmas and we are all better for it. Breast Cancer is now openly discussed, as is addiction. She fearlessly worked on her past demons until she had power over them and thereby empowered all of us to do the same.



The performances were incredible; Miri Ben-Ari who is a Grammy winning violinist who has created her own unique blend of jazz, R&B and hip=hop from her classical training (with Issac Stern no less!) Afro Blue from Howard University who have been featured on the NBC show "Sing Off". But for me the one performance that spoke to me was Natasha Bedingfield. She sang Pocketful of Sunshine which sold over 3 million copies and melted into Unwritten which for me spoke about why I came on this trip in the first place. Read the lyrics (sing along if you know the words) and imagine me sitting in the balcony in the Kennedy Center smiling knowing, for me, I am writing my own story... and I love rain on my skin.







Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something
in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open *****
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else

Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open *****
Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten



Often in life we are stuck with what we know. We don't explore what is outside our window. We don't open our arms wide to grab life. We don't speak the words on our lips. We don't feel the rain on our skin.... That to some degree had been me. Each and every day I feel I see the road in front of me clearer, and I am less afraid of what is around the corner. I look forward to writing the rest of my story.
The event ended with a celebration and then a photoshoot.
They took photos while the rest of us headed to the elevator to go to the party upstairs on the Terrace level. Allison and I rode up the elevator with Wolf Blitzer. When the doors opened for the elevator we were flooded with a pink glow. I said "Wow it's pink!" One person said what did you expect laughing... I answered... "well I supposed I would disappointed if it was blue."

Food was laid out in at least four different rooms for the 1000 guests. Many of the guests were sponsors of the event. Those sponsors and donors brought in 2 million dollars on this one night. That isn't too bad! I have had people ask me why Susan G Komen? They are so large...they think it is better to support things that are more local. One thing that someone said on this night struck very true, They (Susan G Komen) are big enough to matter. They are big enough to wield power and make a difference. They fund research others won't touch. And from those have come some of the biggest advancements. Big is not always bad. In the world of Cancer big is GREAT if its an organization like Susan G Komen. They have invested over 2 BILLION in groundbreaking research and life saving communitiy health and advocacy initiatives. Cancer needs every big gun we can pull together to find a cure. AND we will find a cure.
Allison and I found a table to eat with two open chairs. I asked a beautiful young woman if we could sit down and she said sure. She was sitting next to another beautiful woman, more like my age. As we spoke I found out the woman was the Ambassador from Cape Verde. I told them how much I loved the music from there and they invited me to an event the Embassies are putting on, where there would be music from Cape Verde. I thought, shoot another DC party and I can't come! But I exchanged cards with her and told them they were welcome to come to SF and take a ride on our boat on the Bay.

As Allison and I wandered about I heard a voice "Cathy!" It was Kirk Hammond who was one of the survivors in the circle with me. Kirk walked in the DC 3 day walk in 2011 but in 2010 there was a team walking for her, she was going through treatment. She is a bright light, a Mom with a husband who looks like an anchorman you may know, but is an attorney. It was exciting to see her. She told me Leslie Kerns was also there another survivor from the circle and we hunted her down. It was a little harder finding her than it would have been in the 3 day where her hair was striking bright pink, but we found her anyway.
Allison and I left to drive back to Falls Church feeling so treated and so glad to have been able to go to this event.

Chris and the dog met us and we had one more glass of wine before bed.



The next day Allison had off, so despite the forecast for snow we headed out for an adventure. First stop lunch at a place feature on Diner Drive-ins and Dives. La Caraqueia in Falls Church, is a Bolivian restaurant and it was good!


After lunch we headed toward West Virginia and Loudon County, Va. The snow started shortly after leaving and got steadily heavier the further we went.





This is October?!

Looks like a wintry scene to me! We tried a couple of wineries, one was closed for an event, the other was just closed.

But we found a couple that were open and these people were very friendly and the tasting room was full of people who believe in adventure like Allison and me.





Corked Cellars was like going to the living room of an old friend. The owner used to be from Sausalito and his wine was good and reasonably priced. he also had local cheese, eggs and beef! We grabbed some of each and headed home.







Back in Falls Church we made dinner for Chris who was working late and relaxed. The next day, Allison was off for a class and Chris was off to work. I was off to the airport and home.








Now I am back to work, waiting for trick or treaters and wondering what I will discover around the next bend. I can't help but feel there is something I am meant to do. There is a passion I am meant to explore. There is good for me to accomplish and I am curious just what that will be. If you have any idea what I am meant to be doing, let me know. Otherwise, don't mind me, I am loving that rain on my skin.