Starstruck

22 Sep

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write this post, but here we are a week later. Last Wednesday I took the trip up to Boston for the PROMISE ME book tour. I had been talking about it for weeks to my friends and family, so excited that I was going to meet Nancy Brinker. To me, she’s a celebrity. I was way more excited to meet her than I ever would be to meet any actor or actress. My friends who know my passion for breast cancer and Susan G. Komen were really excited for me, but for my friends and co-workers who aren’t as familiar, I think they thought my level of enthusiasm was a bit strange. But oh well. So I took the trip up to Massachusetts, parked in Newton and took the T into Boston. I grabbed a burrito and walked down to the Borders on Boylston Street. I arrived about an hour and a half early (thinking there would be a line of pinked out women and men) but found that the small space the program was to be held in wasn’t set up yet. So I parked myself on the floor and chatted with the employees as they were setting up chairs and bringing in stacks of PROMISE ME. I grabbed myself a front row seat when they finished and then walked to the cafe to grab something to drink. On my way back, I saw her! She was standing with a group of women and I awkwardly stared and walked back to my seat.

A few minutes later the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure got up and introduced Nancy (I’m calling her Nancy because she did). While she was reading a bit of Nancy’s bio, I became aware of the fact that Nancy was standing about a foot away from me to my right (I was sitting on the end of the aisle) and it took every bit of will power I had not to look up at her and stare with starstruck eyes.

After being introduced, she talked for about 20 minutes about why she wrote the book and her experience writing it. How difficult it was to have to re-live some moments of her life and of Suzy’s death. She took questions for about 10 minutes and then signed books. I was so nervous walking up to her that all I could say was “I’m so glad you were able to come to Boston, thank you for being here”, and she smiled and said thank you. I had planned a lot more to say to her, practiced it in my head; but as soon as I was in front of her it all disappeared. I’m actually surprised I came up with that on the spot. After that I left the bookstore and walked through a couple of stores before walking back to the T.

I’m sure there are a few people reading this wondering how I could get so worked up over meeting someone who they may have never heard of. Nancy Brinker may not be a household name, but I think Susan G. Komen is, or it will be. She is someone that I have admired for years as someone who was driven to do something positive for breast cancer during a time when breast cancer was never talked about as something other than a “women’s cancer”. If you read PROMISE ME, you learn that she started the organization with $200. I can’t imagine what it is like to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and I hope that I never find out. But when I read this book, it sheds light on how much scarier it would have been to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s or 80s. She shares with us that in 1974, over 90,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. 33,000 died. Can you imagine that? During that time mammograms were available but not widely utilized; less than 20% of women had regular breast exams.

But the statistic that shocked me the most; she writes, “‘During the ten years of the Vietnam War, about 58,000 American men and women died,’ I told Norman the next morning at breakfast. ‘During that same ten years, 339,000 American women died of breast cancer.'”

Since Susan G. Komen for the Cure came on the scene, statistics like these have changed drastically. Not just because of the money that Komen gives to research to help find the cures, but simply because they were one of the first organizations to talk about breast cancer directly, when previously it had been a taboo subject. She is one of the most driven, passionate women I have ever now had the privilege to meet, and I can’t imagine what this world would be like without her and without Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

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3 Responses to “Starstruck”

  1. Nicole September 22, 2010 at 1:17 PM #

    Thanks so much for posting about your experience, Caitlin. I can TOTALLY relate! And I share your same passion for the cause. I can’t wait to meet her when she’s in Oregon for her booksigning, but do fear I will get starstruck and go mute, or worse, break into an “ugly cry”. You handled it better than I think I will be able to do. 🙂

    • Michelle November 5, 2010 at 12:27 PM #

      Well written! I don’t think your crazy. I probably wouldn’t know what to say to her either!! I’m reading Promise Me now. 😀

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Starstruck « The Komen Experience -- Topsy.com - September 24, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Caitlin Thayer, nhanderson and Project Boobies, Komen Connecticut. Komen Connecticut said: RT @CTinCT: Sorry it took so long, but my blog about meeting @NancyGBrinker in #Boston! http://ow.ly/2Iho7 #komen #breastcancer @komenma […]

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