Fight Like a Girl

October 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm 7 comments


Knowledge is Power

I recently attended a Breast Cancer Awareness Fund Raiser and Event at Brighton Collectibles at Pembroke Gardens in Pembroke Pines, Florida. While the Breast Cancer Survivors whisked by the crowd, gracing the runway and dancing to uplifting music, emotions welled up inside my heart. Dressed in many shades of pink and adorned with symbolic, specially designed “pink” jewelry, this magnanimous sisterhood of women provoked the tears to vacate from behind my eyes, and stream fiercely down my cheeks.


During this event, one group of women in particular caught my attention. They called themselves “Previvors,” a term I had never heard before. While curiosity is my middle name and the catalyst to my research and discovery, I spoke one-on-one with Michelle, who enlightened me and opened my mind and heart to this entire new genre of cancer prevention. Michelle explained that “Previvors” are people who have not had cancer but possess a predisposition to develop it. For some men and women, it means having a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. For others, it also means testing positive for one of the breast cancer gene mutations. The word “previvors” was coined by an organization called FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), an incredible resource for women facing a high risk for breast or ovarian cancer. Advances in genetic testing and risk assessment have changed the face of medicine.

Imagine discovering you had a significant risk for developing breast cancer. What would you do? Through the incredible true stories of five young friends, as well as interviews with more than seventy top breast cancer experts, health writer Dina Roth Port addresses the universal questions of women everywhere who have watched family members suffer from the disease and wondered “am I next?” Full of practical information, Previvors is the first comprehensive book to guide women through the difficult process of determining their risk, weighing the options, and coping with the emotions of deciding to undergo surgery. Discussing the pros and cons of getting tested for the BRCA gene and understanding your options, is power in itself.

“I Got Famous, Then I Got Cancer, and Now I Live to Talk About It.”

Franny the Nanny Speaks from the Heart. “It’s time to put on your sun block and get ready for a new dawn!
” – Fran Drescher President & Visionary
Cancer Schmancer Movement “I am a uterine cancer survivor, but was misdiagnosed and mistreated for a peri-menopausal condition I didn’t have. My doctors told me I was experiencing symptoms because of a long list of reasons – I was too young, too thin, even eating too much spinach! I was prescribed hormones to treat the symptoms, but my doctors didn’t order the proper diagnostic tests. At the time, I didn’t know to ask why or why not, because I was just happy to be told I was too young for something! But finally after an endometrial biopsy, my greatest fear was confirmed; I had cancer. It took me two years and eight doctors before finally being told I had a gynecologic cancer.
I felt betrayed not only by my own body, but by the medical community. In 2002, I wrote Cancer Schmancer, to tell my story of survival so what happened to me wouldn’t happen to others. After I went on my book tour, I realized that what happened to me had happened to so many women like me. And so it was then I realized the book was not the end but rather the beginning of a life mission to improve women’s healthcare in America. Toward this end, I have started the Cancer Schmancer Movement and Cancer Schmancer Foundation to transform women from patients into medical consumers, and to shift this nation’s priority from searching for a cancer cure towards prevention and early detection of cancer. We need to take control of our bodies, become greater partners with our physicians and galvanize as one to let our legislators know that the collective female vote is louder and more powerful than that of the richest corporate lobbyists. As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without demand. It never has and it never will.”
 Sometimes the best gifts come in the ugliest packages.  Please lock elbows with me and join the Cancer Schmancer Movement so together we can do what needs to be done, so less of us will die prematurely.”

When breast cancer is detected early, in the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 98% *National Cancer Institute. The best way to fight breast cancer is to have a plan that helps you detect the disease in its early stages. Create your Early Detection Plan to receive reminders to do breast self-exams, and schedule your clinical breast exams and mammograms based on your age and health history. *National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

The History of the Pink Ribbon is a Peach of a Story

The year is 1992. The pioneer is 68-year-old Charlotte Haley, the granddaughter, sister, and mother of women who had battled breast cancer. Her peach-colored loops were handmade in her dining room. Each set of five came with a card saying: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.” Haley was strictly grassroots, handing the cards out at the local supermarket and writing prominent women, everyone from former First Ladies to Dear Abby. Her message spread by word of mouth. Haley had distributed thousands. Enter, Alexandra Penney, Editor in Chief for Self Magazine. While Penney was busy designing Self Magazine’s second annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue in 1992, she had a flash of inspiration. She would join forces with cosmetic companies and put the Peach-Colored Ribbons on cosmetic counters across the country. “I called Charlotte Haley hoping to collaborate our efforts. I told her  we wanted to go in with her on this, that Self Magazine will give her national attention, and there’s nothing in it for us.” Even years later, Penney recalls how Charlotte Haley’s voice sounded over the phone. “Haley responded by saying she wanted nothing to do with us. She said we were too commercial.” Not wanting to crowd Charlotte Haley and her grassroots efforts for the greater good, or infringe on her activist rights, Self Magazine was advised to come up with another color for the ribbon they wanted to use as a symbol of hope to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer. They chose pink. There are many choices to be made after you decide “pink ribbon.” According to C.M. Offray and Son, the largest ribbon-makers in the world who supply the ribbon on which Olympic medals are hung.

Margaret Welch, director of the Color Association of the United States said “pink is the quintessential female color. The profile on pink is playful, life-affirming. We have studies as to its calming effect, its quieting effect, its lessening of stress. [Pastel pink] is a shade known to be health-giving; that’s why we have expressions like ‘in the pink.’ You can’t say a bad thing about it.” Pink is, in other words, everything cancer notably is not.”  Within a year, Charlotte Haley’s loop of peach ribbon became history. But most importantly, it made history and will forever be the original ribbon dedicated to cancer awareness by drawing attention to the facts of that time during 1992.

Not Always In the Pink 

As different as women are, and as unique as their personal circumstances may be, coping techniques are personal as well. Cancer Survivors, speak candidly and courageously about October and Pink: While some find great comfort,  even camaraderie and pleasure  in donning pink clothing,  using pink products  and supporting pink causes, others choose to avoid pink altogether. One survivor, trying to gain traction and move forward with her life , says “I used to love October. The crisp, cool mornings, the worry-free days of dried leaf piles, leather boots, wool sweaters and the excitement of a new school year. Beginnings. A New Season. I don’t love October any more. I’m a breast cancer survivor, or “thriver,” as I used to like to say. My story is similar to the more than 225,000 women in the United States this year who will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.” “Pink is the color of baby blankets, fluffy cotton candy and your favorite Laffy Taffy. It does not represent the pain breast cancer patients have endured.” “Most importantly I can only wish that  we can begin to  make the switch from  Awareness to Action.” It is “Action” that has helped me reach this point.”

Think Before You Pink® – Stop the Distraction

September 30, 2014 by Karuna Jaggar, Executive Director, Breast Cancer Action

It’s Breast Cancer Industry Month and the pink floodgates have opened. And again we ask: what have all these pink ribbon products and promotions done for women living with and at risk of breast cancer? Together, over the years, we’ve changed the landscape of pink ribbon marketing. Pinkwashing is now a household word. People understand that you always have to “follow the money” in pink ribbon marketing. We’ve exposed the hypocrisy in pink ribbon fundraising and achieved some momentous wins against corporations. Breast Cancer Action, urges people to follow the money before they buy cute pink things waiting for the next big breakthrough for the disease. The important questions to ask are: How much money from pink products is going to any effective programs that are actively trying to fight breast cancer? What are those programs doing with the money? And is there a cap on the amount of money that companies donate? In other words, are sales benefiting women’s health after a company’s self-imposed donation threshold has been met? “You can’t shop your way out of the breast cancer epidemic,” Jaggar says. If you’d really like to sleep well, donating directly to a cancer charity that is more transparent may be a better idea.”

Compassion, Empathy and Action

While my evening at Brighton Collectibles was meaningful, surrounding by friends and colleagues, my conversations with the “thrivers” were the most insightful and delightful. I was extremely pleased that the proceeds of the event directly benefited the women themselves and their chosen organizations. That was reason enough to sip champagne, (yes, pink champagne) and toast the “models,” to great health and continued strength. It occurred to me that evening, that my tears were a mixture of gratefulness, fear of the unknown and empowerment. I was grateful that I was a supporter, not a warrior. I was overjoyed that these women were “Survivors.” I was empowered by the sheer strength and fortitude these heroines displayed and their claim to fame to educate and enrich our lives through shared resources. And I was humbled that this group of glamour girls chose to spread their power and resolve with us, serving as a beacon of light during the darkest phase of their lives. I was eternally brightened, enlightened and inspired to pay it forward. We all have people in our lives that have experienced illness and suffering, put their dukes up in the fight for life, and have had a knockout performance. We’ve all loved and devastatingly lost. It reminds us that life, in all its beauty, its wisdom, and its experiential joy, is short and can change in an instant, without warning. So I can only ask myself why in the world would anyone sweat the small stuff when the big stuff is enough to make us perspire?

“I wish you great health, fortitude, attitude, empowerment and the motivation to shape the world with kindness a little bit every day!” Jayne Bonilla


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

What is Happy? Fight Like a Girl

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jaynebonilla  |  October 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Dedicated to My Special Sheila and her Magic Wand

  • 2. jaynebonilla  |  October 15, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Reblogged this on Jayne Bonilla's Blog and commented:

    Thank You for Reading:) I hope I empower you to be an agent for change and impart new information that can help you or someone you know. Pay it forward, blog it forward! Jayne

  • 3. jaynebonilla  |  October 16, 2014 at 12:03 am

    From Scott Daniels:
    “Fight Like A Girl and Win Like A Girl!”
    Jayne, thanks again so very much for “capturing the essence of the subject” as you always do. Your exceptional, creative responses to our “everyday experiences” gives your readers, your audience, a most thought provoking observation on what we all think about and care about in our daily existence! Please, please keep sharing your thoughts, your ideas and your keen awareness of today’s
    Issues with us. You inspire us to reflect, to think, to consider,
    to smile, to love and to improve ourselves.

    Scott Daniels
    Leadership Pinellas
    Lighthouse for the Blind

    • 4. jaynebonilla  |  October 16, 2014 at 2:15 am

      Thank you Scott for this heartfelt and amazing response. Thank you mostly for taking the time to read my blog. “Blog it forward” to others who may discover a new nugget of information or feel empowered, encouraged.
      Warmth and Appreciation,
      Jayne Bonilla

  • 5. Jayne Daniels Bonilla  |  October 17, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Wow! I am speechless!!!! The story is absolutely beautiful and inspiring. Thank you so much for writing it and sharing. Do you mind if I share it with others?
    It is heart touching.

    Thank you for your wonderful talent of writing.

    You are AMAZING!!!!!

    Christy Thacker

  • 6. Jayne Daniels Bonilla  |  October 17, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Thank you for the shout out. We are always grateful for any awareness of hereditary cancer and FORCE.

    All my best,

    Karen Kramer / Vice President, Marketing
    866-288-7475 x707 /

    FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered

    FORCE is on a mission to enroll 15,000 people
    in HBOC research. Join Us!

  • 7. Dr. Spencer Baron  |  October 20, 2014 at 4:50 am

    Amazing! Very well written and extremely informative. Thanks!!


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Welcome to my blog!

"It is better to improve than it is to prove"
- Jayne Bonilla

Since the road to success is always under construction, this blog is intended to serve as a visceral compass empowering readers/writers to find their own direction along the way.

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