October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and PMM Lifestyle Editor Natasha Nurse attended Lane Bryant‘s Shop & Brunch Event for Breast Cancer Survivors with the American Cancer Society on October 4, 2015 at their 125th Street store in New York City.
It was a fantastic and inspiring event for a truly worthy cause. Natasha was surrounded by beautiful clothes while interviewing strong women and describes it as:
“I couldn’t imagine a Sunday morning better spent!”
In attendance at the event were Lane Bryant‘s Survivor Ambassadors, Margie Princel Simmons and Jodi Browell, with whom Natasha had the pleasure of interviewing later that evening. And here is her interview and report…
Margie Princel Simmons has been a breast cancer survivor for 11 years, 5 months and counting. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and is the daughter of Louise Simmons, who fought breast cancer for 18 years until she passed away in 1999. That same year Margie joined the fight against breast cancer with the American Cancer Society and continues to be involved today.
In 2004, Margie had her left breast removed and then had her hip replaced in 2012. The American Cancer Society stood by her through the entire process, “One of ACS workers even visited me in the hospital! To have Lane Bryant and American Cancer Society choose me, and survivors like me, to help fight this disgusting disease is an honor and great privilege. Welcome aboard Lane Bryant for joining the fight, and thank God for the American Cancer Society! ”
Margie has such a great sense of humor but also a strong will and spirit.
“Whether you have hair or not, keep your ‘do tight. Make sure the left is even with the right and never give up the fight!”
Jodi Browell is from Illinois and just celebrated her 4-year survivorship in August. She and her husband have been busy over the last year welcoming their twin girls, Julia and Jillian to the world.
“I’m really excited to be a part of [the] Lane Bryant Campaign to raise awareness and money for breast cancer. American Cancer Society has done so much for me and I’m glad that I can help in any way.”
“My hopes are that no one will ever have to hear the words, ‘You have Cancer’ and that pink becomes just another color on a ribbon my little girls wear in their hair.”
Here are some highlights from my conversations with both Margie and Jodi:
Natasha: How would you describe yourself?
Margie: Energetic. I am always on the go! Also, I have been told that I stand out! I believe there is no time for pity, only time to live!
Jodi: I am hardworking, outgoing, and loyal. Also, I am a mother and good friend!
Natasha: When you were first diagnosed, what was going through your head?
Margie: I just sighed and told my doctor: “let’s do what needs to be done.” I wasn’t shocked or surprised because of my mother. After supporting my mother through her fight with cancer for 18 years, I just focused on what I needed to do next.
Jodi: “See that flicker, it’s the heartbeat!” I was so excited to hear those words and see my baby for the first time. At that moment, it became so real for me. I’ve got a little person inside of me and I’m going to be a mother! It was nearly one week later that I was told, “You have cancer.” My first thought was: what about the baby?
My mother, a two-time cancer survivor, gave me the hope that I needed to stay strong. To overcome a cancer diagnosis, I knew that I needed to become my own advocate. I quickly met with a team of doctors to better understand my options. The best information that I received was that I didn’t have to choose between myself and my baby.
Natasha: How did you cope with your journey with cancer?
Margie: Relying on God, the teachings of Jesus, and having lots of patience really made the difference for me. I never asked God, why me? Because there’s always someone worse off than me who would trade places with me in a heartbeat despite my circumstances. I knew I had to keep living and not give up.
Jodi: During my pregnancy, I underwent Chemotherapy, lost my hair, and learned that I carry the BRCA 1 gene – which increases my chance of a recurrence in the future. The American Cancer Society was there for me during my cancer journey. When my hair was gone, they helped me find a wig. Through the Look Good…Feel Better program, I learned different ways to wear headscarves and apply make-up. When I had questions about various options to help keep my cancer in remission, the nurses at the ACS toll free number provided me the answers I needed to make an informed decision about our family’s future.
It was a hard fight, but I’m grateful to have found the strength to survive and share my story with others. On January 30, 2012, we welcomed a 5 pound, 10 ounce beautiful baby girl named Jordan.
Also, I am so thankful to say I have a really supportive family that really helped me! Working and staying busy really helped too!
Natasha: What words of advice or encouragement do you have for others currently dealing with cancer?
Margie: Even though it may look bleak or you are thinking ‘why me?’, always remember that if not you, it would be someone else. You have to get on with life and focus on LIVING! Don’t Give Up! Just, Keep It Moving!
Jodi: #1 – Have a Positive Attitude. I believe there is a connection between your attitude and how you respond to treatment. Stay positive and active to create a positive attitude!
#2 – Be your own advocate and active participant in your treatment. You have to get the knowledge for your treatment! Know why your doctor is making decisions for you and go to your appointment with a list of questions.
#3 – You are not alone! The American Cancer Society is a phone call away.
Natasha: What can others do to support the fight against breast cancer?
Margie: When we talk about breast cancer, we mostly talk about women but we can’t forget about the men! We never see men in pink t-shirts or talk about struggling with the disease – so there should be more awareness about that.
Jodi: Fundraising is KEY! The more money raised, the closer we are to finding a cure! I am so grateful that research was done to determine that pregnant women can undergo chemotherapy. More research means more options for those fighting the disease!
Whether or not you are personally affected by breast cancer, it’s important that we all join the fight to #CombatCancer one way or another and help create awareness.
Have a topic idea or inspiring story you’d like for Natasha to cover for PMM? You can contact her via email here: [email protected]