Menu

We Have Been Nominated For A Stay Classy Award

We are overjoyed to announce that we have been nominated for a Stay Classy award. Crossing our fingers and hoping that we are selected as a finalist. Thanks to the word count restriction I had to cut our story in half, so I will share the entire story with you here. Thanks so much for your continued support. We could never thank you enough! XOXO

Prior to August 2004, I had no idea that young women could develop breast cancer.  In that year, I would find out in the most personal way possible that they could. That I could. I did. I was diagnosed with Stage III Invasive Breast Cancer at the shockingly young age of 26. It was because of my cancer journey that I became painfully aware of the void in services for very young women with breast cancer.  Support groups, programs, and special opportunities all seemed to target older women.  I knew that if I survived my diagnosis, treatment, surgeries and recovery, I was going to have to do whatever I could to change that.  I didn’t know then exactly how I would be able to make a difference, but I knew that I wanted to be, and needed to be, a blessing to other young women facing this nightmare of a disease.

Since my journey began, I have watched in horror and sadness three close girlfriends succumb to the metastatic, or terminal, form of breast cancer.  They were each diagnosed under the age of 40.  “Gone too soon” doesn’t even begin to describe the path of devastation their untimely deaths leave for their families, friends, and other loved ones who struggle to overcome their grief.  Part of managing grief, however, is to do whatever you can while the person is still alive to create memories that can be cherished long after they have passed on.  The idea for Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes (SSPW) is rooted in the philosophy of giving your loved one “flowers while they are alive” rather than at a funeral.  My organization, founded in July 2011, assists young (under 40 at diagnosis) metastatic women in creating those memories in the form of granting wishes.  Organizations that grant wishes are not new.  But my organization is special and unique because it targets an under-served and somewhat invisible population of women whose primary goals may be to stay alive long enough to see their children grow up or reach a milestone anniversary with their spouse.   Few people think or believe that young women actually die from breast cancer.  The mistaken belief is that if we are unlucky enough to be diagnosed at a young age, surely it was caught at a stage where it could be treated and the woman can remain in remission for the balance of what is considered to be a naturally long life.  But too often, cancers in younger women are more aggressive, and while remission may be initially achieved, it is all too often ended with a recurrence of metastatic terminal cancer.  So, as we are able, we send these families on special vacations, allow couples to spend cherished time alone in a romantic setting, or help women who are facing this terminal diagnosis do the one thing they may have always wanted to do.  My inspiration was one of my closest friends, Dana, who became our first wish recipient.  Dana was initially diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Breast Cancer in 2002 at the age of 31 and after a period of remission was diagnosed again with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2008 at the age of 37.  The cancer had spread to her lungs and her bones.  Her doctors estimated that she would have about 2 years before the disease claimed her life.  Dana beat the odds and nearly doubled their expectations!  Dana created a “bucket list” of things she wanted to do, not before she died, but while she was still alive!  It felt right for me to start this organization in her honor and in her image!

As Dana’s cancer progressed, I knew I had to move quickly to get the organization off the ground and grant the wish she desired. I cleaned out my life savings and canceled a personal vacation to ensure that I had the funds for the organizational start-up fees and the fundraiser.  I was willing to do whatever was necessary to ensure that this very deserving young woman was granted her final wish to take her children and immediate family on a dream vacation.  I spent many nights writing letters to potential sponsors asking for cash donations or product donations for our live auction.  I was determined to make this wish come true without any organizational debt!  Sometimes I was ignored or rejected but I pressed on.

I am proud to report that in September 2011, we held our First Annual Black Tie Fundraiser and in February 2012, we were able to send Dana and her family to Sea World in San Diego!

Dana lost her battle with breast cancer in April 2012, a mere two months after her wish trip. I was at her bedside as she took her last breath. While in the hospital in the days leading up to her passing, I was thanked and hugged on numerous occasions by friends and family members for giving Dana that special vacation. The biggest thanks came from her youngest son and favorite niece who accompanied Dana on the trip.  I wish that I could bottle the feeling that I felt while talking to her children! They recalled every moment of the trip with an amazing level of clarity and I know that our efforts permitted an everlasting memory to be created for them to cherish when navigating the grief that will come in the days, months, and years ahead.

In the 11 months that we have been in existence we have granted two wishes and touched numerous lives.  Social media and networking have been the primary source for the resources to continue granting wishes, some large and some small, to these deserving young women.   While our main fundraiser is an annual event, sadly, neither life nor death waits for us to get the money together to make another young woman’s dream come true.  The young lady who is to be honored at this year’s event may not live long enough to have her wish granted.  My primary goal is to take SSPW to the level where we can grant wishes year-round and not have to rush to outrace death or turn any deserving recipient away.  This will take increased visibility, investment, and commitment.  I remain personally committed and invested in this worthy cause and sincerely hope that the Stay Classy Foundation can assist us in our efforts to boost our visibility and the resource levels required to do this important work!

We are overjoyed to announce that we have been nominated for a Stay Classy award. Crossing our fingers and hoping that we are selected as a finalist. Thanks to the word count restriction I had to cut our story in half, so I will share the entire story with you here. Thanks so much for your continued support. We could never thank you enough! XOXO

 

Prior to August 2004, I had no idea that young women could develop breast cancer.  In that year, I would find out in the most personal way possible that they could. That I could. I did. I was diagnosed with Stage III Invasive Breast Cancer at the shockingly young age of 26. It was because of my cancer journey that I became painfully aware of the void in services for very young women with breast cancer.  Support groups, programs, and special opportunities all seemed to target older women.  I knew that if I survived my diagnosis, treatment, surgeries and recovery, I was going to have to do whatever I could to change that.  I didn’t know then exactly how I would be able to make a difference, but I knew that I wanted to be, and needed to be, a blessing to other young women facing this nightmare of a disease.

Since my journey began, I have watched in horror and sadness three close girlfriends succumb to the metastatic, or terminal, form of breast cancer.  They were each diagnosed under the age of 40.  “Gone too soon” doesn’t even begin to describe the path of devastation their untimely deaths leave for their families, friends, and other loved ones who struggle to overcome their grief.  Part of managing grief, however, is to do whatever you can while the person is still alive to create memories that can be cherished long after they have passed on.  The idea for Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes (SSPW) is rooted in the philosophy of giving your loved one “flowers while they are alive” rather than at a funeral.  My organization, founded in July 2011, assists young (under 40 at diagnosis) metastatic women in creating those memories in the form of granting wishes.  Organizations that grant wishes are not new.  But my organization is special and unique because it targets an under-served and somewhat invisible population of women whose primary goals may be to stay alive long enough to see their children grow up or reach a milestone anniversary with their spouse.   Few people think or believe that young women actually die from breast cancer.  The mistaken belief is that if we are unlucky enough to be diagnosed at a young age, surely it was caught at a stage where it could be treated and the woman can remain in remission for the balance of what is considered to be a naturally long life.  But too often, cancers in younger women are more aggressive, and while remission may be initially achieved, it is all too often ended with a recurrence of metastatic terminal cancer.  So, as we are able, we send these families on special vacations, allow couples to spend cherished time alone in a romantic setting, or help women who are facing this terminal diagnosis do the one thing they may have always wanted to do.  My inspiration was one of my closest friends, Dana, who became our first wish recipient.  Dana was initially diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Breast Cancer in 2002 at the age of 31 and after a period of remission was diagnosed again with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2008 at the age of 37.  The cancer had spread to her lungs and her bones.  Her doctors estimated that she would have about 2 years before the disease claimed her life.  Dana beat the odds and nearly doubled their expectations!  Dana created a “bucket list” of things she wanted to do, not before she died, but while she was still alive!  It felt right for me to start this organization in her honor and in her image!

As Dana’s cancer progressed, I knew I had to move quickly to get the organization off the ground and grant the wish she desired. I cleaned out my life savings and canceled a personal vacation to ensure that I had the funds for the organizational start-up fees and the fundraiser.  I was willing to do whatever was necessary to ensure that this very deserving young woman was granted her final wish to take her children and immediate family on a dream vacation.  I spent many nights writing letters to potential sponsors asking for cash donations or product donations for our live auction.  I was determined to make this wish come true without any organizational debt!  Sometimes I was ignored or rejected but I pressed on.

I am proud to report that in September 2011, we held our First Annual Black Tie Fundraiser and in February 2012, we were able to send Dana and her family to Sea World in San Diego!

Dana lost her battle with breast cancer in April 2012, a mere two months after her wish trip. I was at her bedside as she took her last breath. While in the hospital in the days leading up to her passing, I was thanked and hugged on numerous occasions by friends and family members for giving Dana that special vacation. The biggest thanks came from her youngest son and favorite niece who accompanied Dana on the trip.  I wish that I could bottle the feeling that I felt while talking to her children! They recalled every moment of the trip with an amazing level of clarity and I know that our efforts permitted an everlasting memory to be created for them to cherish when navigating the grief that will come in the days, months, and years ahead.

In the 11 months that we have been in existence we have granted two wishes and touched numerous lives.  Social media and networking have been the primary source for the resources to continue granting wishes, some large and some small, to these deserving young women.   While our main fundraiser is an annual event, sadly, neither life nor death waits for us to get the money together to make another young woman’s dream come true.  The young lady who is to be honored at this year’s event may not live long enough to have her wish granted.  My primary goal is to take SSPW to the level where we can grant wishes year-round and not have to rush to outrace death or turn any deserving recipient away.  This will take increased visibility, investment, and commitment.  I remain personally committed and invested in this worthy cause and sincerely hope that the Stay Classy Foundation can assist us in our efforts to boost our visibility and the resource levels required to do this important work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 + 4 =