After my breast cancer diagnosis, everything became possible. I got the mindset, “why not, what do I have to lose?” The timing was perfect because within days I received an email alert from LBBC that White House Black Market was holding a contest for 25 breast cancer survivors. What the heck, why not? So I wrote my essay, had my husband take a photo and “click,” off it went. Little did I know - that the click of the send button would really set my new path.
I was selected and joined 24 amazing women in New York City for a real-life glamorous photo shoot. We had the full “pit crew” working on us. We were treated like super models, not like mothers, daughters or sisters playing dress-up (even though we were!). We were all little girls again, with giant smiles. We were sexy, beautiful women…not sick, scared, and diagnosed patients. Our inner beauty came through the battered outer shells. Two days of this metamorphosis forever bonded 25 women who quite frankly never would have chosen this common bond, but amazingly found strength, comfort and POWER.
Collective energy can be quite healing. So for the next 4 months we emailed, facebooked, and chatted about our next gathering. So in October White House Black Market and LBBC gathered the 25 of us once again at the Butterfly Ball. We were long-lost sisters gabbing and admiring our beautiful selves all dressed up once again by WHBM. We all danced and laughed. What an evening it was. I never realized or even thought for a moment this would be the last time all of us would be able to gather and celebrate life!
Vivian Rivera was also selected to participate in the photo shoot. She sang a beautiful song during her WHBM interview and LBBC asked her to perform it at the Butterfly Ball. We gave her a standing ovation. Her self-written song, “Chosen” is the voice to all of us who are choosing to win during hard times. Within weeks we heard about Vivian’s illness. Lori Baur, who was also selected to participate in the photo shoot, rallied up all 24 of us to send support, and we did. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. By January, Vivian, our gorgeous song bird, flew to heaven. She had left a mark, touched our hearts, but also challenged my thinking once again - THIS disease is real.
Vivian Rivera leaves the crowd with a smile after performing "Chosen" at LBBC's Butterfly Ball 2010
Soon we stopped hearing as much from Lori. Although Vivian passed away from a rare brain cancer, her news was so real for Lori. Lori had been living with metastatic breast cancer for years. She and her husband went on their dream vacation to Hawaii. Very soon after their vacation, once again we got the devastating news that Lori’s breast cancer journey had come to an end.
Lori Baur and her husband at LBBC's Butterfly Ball 2010
This disease sucks in so many ways, yet I have met and became friends with some of the most incredible women. How can something so bad bring such good? That question can’t be answered - it can only be lived. That’s when Denise, another WHBM babe, reached out to me about Yoga on the Steps. There would be no better way to honor Vivian and Lori than to move to action! So we formed Forever 25, The White House Black Market Team for this May’s Philadelphia Yoga on the Steps.
Boy! WHBM stepped up to the plate once again! They are matching our donations up to 10k, making us personalized t-shirts that we can sport day-of, and providing a never-ending supply of support! We can’t bring Lori and Vivian back, but we CAN keep their spirit and the energy of that magical WHBM campaign alive. We CAN give HOPE at the end of each day - HOPE that we will enjoy our son’s next baseball game, HOPE that we will feel beautiful and sexy, HOPE that we will do more than just…survive. HOPE that we will thrive, and just like Lori and Vivian, HOPE that we will touch others and make this journey a little easier for someone else.
See you at Yoga on the Steps.
Make a donation to the Forever 25: The White House Black Market Team! You can start fundraising today! Join a team, form a team or fundraise as an individual! If you have any questions, visit yogaonthesteps.org.