Oct. 4, 2012
Vol. 10, Issue 19
The fall speaking season is in full throttle as we move into October. Not only is it Breast Cancer Awareness month, but it’s big month for women’s events in general. It’s interesting to note that less than twenty years ago, event planners had to dance around the topic of breast cancer. Having a breast cancer event was NOT a promotional draw. Today, we have many clients with sold-out events, year after year. Sponsors turn pink lights on their towers, bridges and parks to draw attention to the issue. There are races, rowing, sailing, bowling and cooking, for the cure. Survivors come up with booby slogans that bring humor to the forefront. We celebrate the fortitude and will to live of our friends, mothers, sisters, and, even a few fathers, husbands and brothers — while fundraising to support early detection, and research to wipe out this dreadful disease.
I’m purposefully not using the words fight and battle or courage and bravery here, because my dear friend and speaker, Fern Carness, didn’t believe in those terms. She lived with breast cancer for 13 years, including the last 4 with metastatic breast cancer. She said she wasn’t brave. It wasn’t about courage. She simply and passionately wanted to live, for her beautiful life with her husband, family and grandchildren. For the joy of quilting, yoga and friends. For her passion for wellness. Oh, and travel, and cooking for friends and family, and much, much more. Fern was all about life. Every one of us can put a face or two or three or more on cancer. I’m not going to advocate here for any organization, just for the cause and that we keep it in the forefront. Fern’s memory is the face of breast cancer for me, and I honor her memory this month.
I am always on the lookout for survivor speakers around the country — and please note, your recommendations are always welcome. Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Patricia San Pedro, The Cancer Dancer (also the name of her book). In my last issue, I wrote about my own aversion to the video camera. Here is a woman, who upon her cancer diagnosis, invited the camera into every nook and cranny of her journey.
Patricia San Pedro:
The Cancer Dancer
Pat was turning 52 when she was diagnosed on April 8, 2008. Her mother, who had passed away from breast cancer 20 years earlier at the age of 59, was very much on her mind. “As you would assume, the diagnosis shook my foundation and brought nearly all external life-processes to a screeching halt,” she said. “I saw my mom’s life (and death) in front of me. Grief, sadness and fear took over my entire body.
“However, in the moments after hearing the diagnosis, somehow I knew that this would be God’s way of helping me grow and reach my fullest potential as a human being. It was in those moments that I realized I had the power to choose my attitude for how I would handle the situation. My instinct was to react as I usually do…looking at the glass as half full. I tend to look for a silver lining, even in difficult situations.”
Thus, the decision to document her journey on video and on paper became an integral part of her healing. “I was alone. I didn’t have a husband, boyfriend, kids or siblings. So, what was next? I decided to turn my healing journey into a celebration of life.
“So I called 5 of my best friends to my house. I popped open two bottles of champagne and I said ‘I have cancer…and we’re going to celebrate this beautiful healing journey. By the way, we’re going to videotape the entire thing too.’ They were shocked to say the least…but that’s exactly what happened.
“I knew instinctively that I wanted to share my story with others. No matter what the outcome, I was going to deal with this in a positive and empowered way. I would share lessons that I learned, as I was learning them. And I would share patient-to-patient tips as I discovered things that were making the journey easier for me, with the hope that it will help others who will walk the same path. And so I began to journal and to videotape…everything. For more than one year. Being of service to others, through my own dance with cancer, gave me purpose and helped me heal.”
The video footage grew into a Discovery documentary, which she co-produced. You can view some of it in her 10-minute preview video here. And the journal is now her book: The Cancer Dancer: Healing One Step at a Time, where she shares her inspiring story and offers more than 400 valuable patient-to-patient tips and advice to help, encourage and empower others. It is a guide to help the patient and the caregiver, a gift from someone who has been through the trenches.
Pat’s positive attitude shows up in her advice to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis: “Cancer does not equate death! Get those thoughts out of your head. You have a choice: Choose joy. Choose peace. Choose happy healing. Don’t give yourself the option to think negative thoughts. Flip the switch in your head and use your journey to grow…to better your life…to examine your priorities. To reconnect with yourself and those you love. Stay away from toxic people and situations. Surround yourself with only positive and happy people and places. Don’t watch the news…watch comedies instead. Slow down…the world will keep spinning. Focus on gratitude. And have faith that it’s all happening exactly as it’s supposed to.”
This is just some of the inspiring message Pat spreads with her audiences. “My belief was that I would survive cancer, use the healing journey as a time to reconnect with myself, set a new course for my life, and find ways to help others with what I’ve learned.
“My mission continues: to carry this care and compassion into the world to help each other heal and thrive through our words, our intent, our love, our commonality and our caring. Maybe together we can all learn to flip that switch to the positive side, every time. And just maybe if we continue to take this amazing sense of compassion and purpose into the world, the legacy we leave will be generations that need not be concerned about breast cancer as it will be a thing of the past.”
To learn more about Pat and how you can bring her to your event, visit our website or give me a call at 503-699-5031.
Fruits of Fall
I’m writing this outside on my laptop on one of the last warm days of the year — at least that’s what the weather forecaster told me at noon today. It has been glorious here for the entire month of September, although we, like so many parts of the country could use some rain. I can hardly believe, I’m saying that, living in Oregon! The trees turn a lot later here in the Northwest so we have yet to revel in the joys of fall color, as so many of you along the East Coast and in the Midwest are doing already. Our local fruit stand still has berries (if I get there early enough), and fresh corn, along with all of the colorful squash coming in to mark the coming of Autumn.
Until next time, I hope you’re enjoying the bounty of the harvest and storing up some goodness for winter, for your well being and those you love.
For Your Well Being is published bi-weekly. We bring you insider speaker reports, exclusive stories about special events around the country, meeting planner tips, and fun stuff from the worlds of health and well being. Be well and be in the know!
The Speak Well Being Group is a specialized speakers bureau, focusing on speakers for hospital-sponsored community events, healthcare organizations, conferences and women’s groups. Our speakers are hand-selected. They are not only experts in their fields, they know how to connect with women and give them life-changing information served on a silver platter of joy, camaraderie, with a side of sauce (spicy, of course).
Finding the perfect keynote speaker for your special event or conference is my personal passion, not just once, but year after year. It brings me endless joy to know that your audience was delighted and moved by the speaker we selected together. I’m committed to making the process easy, pleasant and fun.