|Kara DiGuardio, my BRCA sister|
I was reminded of this scene last Wednesday evening at FORCE's NYC Spring Celebration 2014: Live Life Empowered at Hudson Terrace. The organization's inaugural benefit event, which was sponsored by Quest Diagnostics, featured two of my BRCA sisters, Stacey Sager and Kara DiGuardio, in a joyful celebration of the organization that is the unequivocal voice of the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) community. In addition to providing resources, education, and support to individuals and families at risk for hereditary cancer, FORCE, comprising a staff of 11 and a tremendous corps of dedicated volunteers throughout the country, advocates on our behalf within the medical, pharmaceutical, and policy arenas, helping to ensure that we don't encounter discrimination, insurance snafus, or other obstacles as we--individually and collectively--deal with the inevitable roller coaster ride that comes along with our attempts to ensure, to the extent possible, that our genetics don't dictate our destiny.
Throughout the evening, we cheered Sue Friedman, FORCE's founder, celebrated Stacey's survival of both breast and ovarian cancer, and marveled at the serendipity that propelled Kara, who shared her songs and her story, to get tested.
As regular readers of this blog know, I am one of thousands of FORCE members who will be ever grateful to the organization for its strong, supportive, knowledgeable, powerful, and empowering voice. Most of all, I appreciate my countless FORCE sisters (and one brother, who sports a New Jersey license plate that reads "BRCA1") who are ever ready and willing--as am I--to answer questions, share experiences, recommend doctors, dry tears, commiserate, or just listen. Help from our BRCA sisters empowers so many of us to make tough decisions, undergo surveillance and surgeries, deal with both expected and unexpected consequences, and move on in our forever-changed lives, all in the hopes that cancer won't steal us the way it already has stolen far too many of our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins.
Indeed, Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" is the perfect soundtrack for my BRCA family. Had a DJ and a dance floor been in the room on Wednesday night, I am quite sure that as our partners, spouses, friends, and supporters stood on the sidelines and watched, we all would have been out there, linking arms and singing along with Sister Sledge:
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing