Who inspires you to work towards the end of breast cancer?
I Wear Pink for Dawn Stewart
I met Dawn right after the South Asia Tsunami while working in the national headquarters for the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C.
Dawn had been with the Red Cross for a number of years by the time we met. I believe she started as a volunteer a few years before the September 11 attacks. Conversely, I had just been with the Red Cross for about a year at that point. We worked together in the DOC -- Disaster Operations Center. I eventually returned to my workstation on the communications floor and Dawn, well, she floated around quite a bit.
The first thing she taught me was that there was a bottled tea in the Red Cross cafeteria that was "extra sweet sweet tea" -- better than just sweet tea, she explained. The best thing about Dawn is that regardless of how stressful the environment or how scary the disaster, she could make you laugh--or at least smile. She had a wonderful--albeit sometimes warped--sense of humor. Like coming to the Red Cross Halloween shindig as "Avian Flu."
Last November, Dawn was diagnosed with breast cancer. Admittedly, she was a smoker--her one and only vice--and ignored symptoms for a while because she thought she had her nearly seasonal case of pneumonia. But, when she didn't get better and her parents had to come to take care of her--her doctors began more tests.
It was less than a month between diagnosis and death for this sweet, compassionate and funny lady in her early 40s. Definitely the world's loss...and we can't afford to lose people like Dawn--"the helpers" as Mister Rogers would say.
In July 2014, I'll be riding the Pan Ohio Hope Ride--cycling 328 miles in four days to support Hope Lodges of Ohio--to help other cancer patients, like Dawn, fight cancer and, hopefully unlike Dawn, beat it.
Anyone interested in helping sponsor my ride can visit: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/LeighAnneD.
NOTE: Hope Lodges are cancer treatment, not research facilities, where patients and often their spouses can live during invasive procedures.