It was 4 years ago in the coincidental month of October when I found out my mother was diagnosed with Stage 2A (small in size, but spread to lymph nodes) breast cancer at the age of 45. Three weeks before a monumental 21st birthday this devastating phone call came through my Tampa, Florida apartment and changed my entire life. My thoughts quickly snapped away from which shot would be my first to which college do I transfer to so I may be with my family (Cape Cod, Massachusetts never seemed so far away).
A mother of five & a full-time nurse who seemed to be more healthy, vibrant and alive than anyone I had ever met was now battling for her life with three children under the age of sixteen still living at home. The decision to be there for her, to help support my father and take care of my “little guys” was the easiest choice I had ever made. I chose to fight her battle with her after twenty-one years of her fighting mine. I had watched her work night shifts, while my father worked long hours during the day to ensure my brothers, sisters, and I were always taken care of. Now, here was the woman that arrived home from work at 7:30a to make lunches, see us on the bus before sleeping for a few hours in the afternoon while simultaneously maintaining the household, assisting with homework, driving to and from after-school activities, and cooking meals before napping just to do it all over again needing OUR help. This love and devotion was unlike anything I had ever seen or heard of and it was our turn to take care of her.
Despite staring death in the face I’ve never seen so much bravery and strength than in the eyes of my mother. Knowing she was surrounded by the love and support of friends, family and coworkers, she chose to give cancer the middle finger (and I did right along with her). We chose not to pretend it wasn’t happening. We chose to embrace the path before us. We chose to ‘Save The Tatas.’
As a family supported by a community of love, I’m proud to say my mother won her battle and is officially a cancer survivor, a journey that began October 21, 2008 and officially ended July of 2009. I walked 60 miles with Susan G. Komen for the Cure that following October to honor of her battle. I had never been so proud to be her daughter than when I saw her standing at the finish line, smiling and in remission. It was in that moment I finally understood what it meant to sacrifice for the sake of someone else.
In recognition of this final day of breast cancer awareness month I want to acknowledge a company that has now forever impacted my life with their recognition and support for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. ONEHope Wine is a charitable company that is dedicated and committed to “making a difference.”
“ONEHOPE was started by eight friends who turned what started as a personal mission to help out a friend with her fight against cancer into a thriving business which is founded on a very basic, but compelling principle: giving back is good business.”
Their mission is to save lives through early detection while increasing awareness through education, providing diagnostic breast care and nurturing online support services. Since their inception in 2007 they continue to donate half of their profits to social causes including breast cancer awareness, which has raised over $150K with their ONEHOPE California Chardonnay. Their efforts don’t stop here. ONEHope also provides 1 free mammogram to a woman in need for every 8 cases of Chardonnay that’s purchased. With a 98% survival rate for early detection, more women now have the opportunity to protect themselves.
I’ve been forever inspired by the amazing team at ONEHope Wine for their generosity. I look forward to raising my glass of ONEHope California Chardonnay today in their honor along with the following women that changed my life with their support four years ago today:
Diane Gagnon Ashley Molloy
Delores Gauvin Kate Mullin
Andrea Gauvin Jocelyn Mayer
Meredith Gauvin Rachel Lavallee
Patty Flaherty Nikki Martin
Janelle Chase Liz Paonessa
Katelyn Caton Jennifer Prestifilippo
Carly Suzan *Jan Seamons
To find out more about ONEHope Wine check out their website here and see how they’re supporting a number of other causes in our community.
“HOPE is all about making the world better, and giving people an easy way to make a difference. Wine is a living, breathing commodity that has always helped bring people together in common purpose. We can’t think of a better vehicle for change. We come to work every day inspired to do more. As we grow our brand and the ONEHOPE mindset we know we’re helping improve the human condition. We have yet to find a better reason to get up in the morning.”
UPDATE: Only two years after treatments Kara went on to complete her Master’s in Health Care Administration at the age of 48 and continues to be cancer free.