It was a year ago that our corporate sponsor, White House | Black Market, partnered with us for a call-out to honor and highlight 25 inspiring women who are living beyond breast cancer. All 25 women were dolled up for an expense-paid photo shoot and then featured in White House | Black Market’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month catalog.
Wonder how the experience changed the women over the last year? Let’s hear Glynis Rhodes’ story:
From the day I was diagnosed I wanted it to count. I wanted to be an ambassador to the world! It was so important to me that I was able to inform others about the changes in breast cancer treatment and to let people know that the whole person is being treated – not just the cancer!
I was floored when I received the email that LBBC was looking for survivors to participate in the 2010 White House | Black Market Breast Cancer Awareness Month Campaign. As I anxiously prepared my entry, I prayed to be accepted. My family was excited as well and were thrilled as I was when I got the call – You are going to New York! I was so shocked that I went numb. I have never been interviewed for national coverage, yet here I am 20 pounds heavier with no hair. What were they going to do with me?
I guess all they wanted was me. Being whole again was what I longed for and LBBC and WHBM did exactly that. Together, they made me whole. I am now known as “the Beautiful Bald One.” For two years I hid my head under scarves, wigs and hats. Cancer had taken my hair and I believe refuses to give it back. As I filled out my entry information I prayed to be picked and said “If I am chosen I am taking it all off (just off my head) and will take my pictures bald.”
Tears of joy streamed down my face as I looked at my photos. It was so powerful and emotional. I did then and still have trouble believing the beautiful, confident woman in the photograph is me! From that day on, if the temperature and weather allows, I proudly display my head, no longer feeling like an alien, less-attractive, less-professional, just less-everything. Being surrounded by the LBBC and White House| Black Market teams and 24 survivors gave me the boost that I needed to feel good and accept my new self. I am healthy and that is all that matters. Cancer may have taken away my hair and gave me a few more pounds but it only changed me, it did not take my life. One year later from the photo shoot and I am stronger, more vibrant and just, in a nutshell, happy!
As the campaign began and the photos and videos were launched the emails and telephone calls were nonstop and I was a star! I felt it was such a privilege and boy, did I talk. One of the most enjoyable experiences was being the LBBC Representative on October 7, 2010 in the White House | Black Market store in Wilmington, NC. I met a lot of people affected by cancer and saw them make purchases with the proceeds going to LBBC. I received a call from some friends in Las Vegas celebrating their anniversary saying they were pleasantly surprised to see my face in the Venetian Mall. They went into the store and said “I know the bald lady.”
It has been a wonderful year – full of emotion, happy and sad. We were once 25 strong, now we are only 23 but our love grows. We share everything and keep in touch. A couple of weeks ago 10 of us celebrated our anniversary together over dinner. As different as we are, we all have one thing in common, survivorship! It is not just about treatment, survivorship means getting on with your new life, fighting for your rights, holding back your fear and letting it out when necessary.
I will never be able to thank Jean (LBBC) and Donce Noce (WHBM) for their kindness and thoughtfulness. Whose idea was it to bring 25 breast cancer survivors together? I have no idea, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The past year of my life if proof that every cloud has a silver lining, in this case the lining was white and black.
To hear more about Glynis’ personal journey with breast cancer, visit our website to watch her short video.