In October, We Think Pink
In case you missed all the pink things around you this Month, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Here at KEEP Collective, we know the strength and support it takes to fight a disease like cancer. It's a story we hear from our customers and our Designers often. Our community is full of women who have been affected by breast cancer in some way: as a survivor, as a caretaker, as a loved one, or as an advocate.
Every October, we partner with Bright Pink (read more about that partnership here) to raise awareness and support prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer, but this year we also wanted to share some of those stories of strength and support.
Patty Chalk's Story
Patty was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and faced a difficult choice: go through this alone, or turn to her community, friends, family for support. Patty chose the latter.
"The way I saw it," Patty said, "I could shy away or I could reach out. All I really wanted in that moment was to know that people were praying for us."
Patty, her husband, and her sister set up a Facebook page to update loved ones on her current condition, as well as the process on the whole.
"Some days are going to be good, but I wanted to share the ugly part of cancer also," she said. "It's not all pink ribbons and bows. There is a woman behind those pink ribbons who is fighting for her life."
Sharing her story had a result she wasn't really expecting: being an advocate for early diagnosis.
"I had at least five friends tell me that as a result of seeing what I went through, they went and got a mammogram before the recommend age," she said. And even though Patty is cancer free now, she hasn't stopped sharing her story and helping to support her cause.
Patty is one of the many Designers in our community who has donated "KEEP Care Packages" to their local cancer treatment center (for Patty this is extra special because it is also HER treatment center). She includes things she needed or wished she had during treatment like non-scented lotions, a small notebook and a pen, and sometimes a little daily dose of inspiration.
"Giving back made me feel even closer to the cause because I was able to take them and give them personally," she said, "And since I had been through it, I knew what would bring a smile to their face."
Kyra Flatow's Story
Kyra's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 28 years old (and when Kyra was only in the fifth grade) after a car crash that resulted in a full check up. From then on, Kyra's whole life changed as she knew it. The closest treatment center was six hours from her family's home, so Kyra took on the role of big sister, little momma for her younger sibling.
"To this day, I remember the day she started to lose her hair," Kyra said. "My dad stayed home from work that day, shaved her head, and shaved his in solidarity."
Kyra's mom has been 15+ years cancer free now, but Kyra has never stopped being an advocate for young women affected by the disease. She participates, volunteers, and has even served as a chair for Relay for Life, twice giving the keynote speech about caretaking and early detection.
"Relay for Life is always a really special day for me," she said, "especially during the Survivor's Lap, where I get to walk with my mother. It's amazing to spotlight her strength."
Like Patty, Kyra has donated "KEEP Care Packages" in the past, updating her donors on the process from start to finish. "I even share the thank you notes I get from the hospital," she said. "It's just a little something to let patients know we're rooting for them."
As a keynote speaker, we figured Kyra would have some great advice for other caretakers going through a similar situation. She told us, "You're going to see your loved one at their lowest, and they'll need you to be strong, but it's okay to not be so strong all the time."
Want to learn more about how you can help support Breast Cancer awareness? Learn more from Bright Pink, or put together a Keeper from our Shop for a Cause boutique. You can also follow the example of our amazing community and put together care packages for your local cancer treatment center. Every little gesture helps!