Susan G. Komen for the Cure Founder: Ambassador for Life

Nancy G. Brinker, Founder & CEO Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Susan G. Komen fought breast cancer and lost her life to it.  Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. Because of her love for her sister, her own tenacity, and a promise, she is fighting breast cancer and winning. That promise translated into the Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the global leader of the breast cancer movement, having invested more than $1.9 billion since inception in 1982.  Her legacy is a testament to Living on Purpose and promoting life.

It’s amazing how one decision can change the course of a person’s life (and legacy) forever. In 2008, Nancy G. Brinker was honored as one of the “100 Most Influential People” by TIME magazine. Among numerous other achievements, she has been awarded the Forbes Trailblazer Award, Ladies Home Journal’s 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century, Biography Magazine’s 25 Most Powerful Women in America, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control for the U.N.’s World Health Organization, and the list goes on.

Since it’s inception, Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, has become the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists working together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all, and energize science to find cures. They are also the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.

Nancy reflects:

“Suzy and I talked many times about the conditions of the waiting rooms and how people felt, the lack of research, the lack of knowledge and empowerment — everything that happened along the way.”

She remembers the conversations and feelings about the process and experience breast cancer patients were saddled with, from spending long hours in waiting rooms with uncomfortable chairs and empty walls–as if the swirls of sickness, exhaustion and fear weren’t already enough to bare, to a lack of information and programs with a personal touch for victims, survivors and their loved ones. She quotes Susan as saying: “As soon as I get better, let’s do something about this.  You can find a way to speed up the research. I know you can. And I want to fix up this waiting room and make it pretty for the women who have to be here.  This isn’t right.”

Sadly, her sister didn’t get better. After nine operations, three courses of chemo and radiation, she lost her 3-year battle with cancer. But Nancy Brinker never forgot. Before the luxury of internet and social networking, she stood determined, undaunted and full of vision.  Enter: A Dream.

“I had a dream in which I saw a lot of people — a lot of fierce, but attractive, healthy women running. They were running, and they were in pink. Pink was my sister’s favorite color. I said to myself, “What we have here is a race. This mission we are on is a race for the cure.” Now we are the largest grassroots breast cancer organization in the world.”

Against multiple odds and uncharted territory, she followed her dream, her destiny–and began living her life on purpose.  The outcome?  Her work, through creative advocacy and the promotion of life through legal and social networks, has saved and impacted millions of lives around the globe. Read Nancy’s powerful book, “Promise Me: How a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer.”

There was a point when Nancy wresteld with how she could positively impact the lives and experiences of other women struggling with breast cancer, and those who surrounded them. She wanted her sister to know how special she was and that she’d always be in her heart. She posed the question to herself that so many of us do:

“Could one person really make a difference?”

She is quoted as saying that her father often said: “It’s not that people fail because they have bad ideas. It is that they quit.”  How grateful women and people are around the globe, that Nancy Brinker didn’t quit.  She proved beyond any shadow of  doubt that yes, one person really can make a difference!  How proud her sister, Susan G. Komen, would be of her, and to know her sister kept her promise.

Get Educated. It’s Free!  Get outreach materials, learn how to be a good support system for someone who has breat cancer, participate in a fundraising event, about breast self-awareness, and questions to ask your doctor, facts and information, and more

PinkPassion for Life™–“Raising Eyebrows & Making Memorable Impressions for Breast Cancer™” is a Collection of Advocacy Art by April McCallum designed as a creative way to raise awareness and find a cure for breast cancer. Shop Online.

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

Share

Christmas Gifts of Love, Joy & Hope

 

Christmas, the time of year that symbolizes love, joy and hope, is here once again. 

Some of us know Christmas is near from the chill in the air. Crimson leaves have finally fallen. Trees stand still and stark against the bitter cold.  For those of us who enjoy the distinctness of the seasons however, it is a welcome chill that transports us to the warmth of our crackling fireplace sipping warm drinks, enveloped in music, family, festivities and cheer.  Our hearts swell with gratitude as we reflect on the love given and received throughout the year.  Our imaginations flow with dreams and visions for the New Year. Peace and joy abound.

But peace and joy escape many women, especially at this time of the year. Countless women and girls have received little or no love so there is no capacity for reflection, no warm memories to buoy their hearts. They experience another kind of chill. The coldness from a world, that, like the perpetual motion of a merry-go-round at a fair, just keeps going without a care.  

And there are ones who are locked away in the darkness of addiction, the bitter chill of un-forgiveness or some other form of dysfunction. They are not living their potential or destiny. Gripped with fear, self-loathing or pain, they feel powerless and incapacitated. Their hearts and imaginations are strangled by the icy fingers of hopelessness that wrap around them, causing their hearts to grow cold and sometimes, hard.

Life doesn’t stop for anyone. We live in a world that applauds wealth, status, beauty and accomplishment.  But, for many women and girls, the world’s definition of success is not even within their grasp. They are overlooked and in many cases, even viewed with distain. They feel forgotten, abandoned, neglected or unloved. They begin to believe the lie that the beauty, kindness and goodness in the world is not for them.

The orphaned feel abandoned. The abused feel neglected.  The unloved feel unworthy.  The marginalized feel trapped. The used feel shame.  And, those are the “lucky” ones, because many no longer feel anything at all.

But Christmas at its core symbolizes unconditional love, hope for the future, and God making a way (for the forgotten, addicted, dysfunctional, marginalized, abandoned and unloved) when there appeared to be no sign of deliverance or remedy. Gratefully, the ultimate gift of Christmas isn’t for a select or elite few, it is for all people, everywhere.

Don’t get swept up believing that people want to be left alone or that they have a “need” to be independent. Sometimes it’s good to gently press in and invite, welcome, encourage or simply reach out to those in our lives (or even strangers) that need to see the good in Christmas. They need to know someone feels, someone sees, someone cares. Their dreams are worthwhile and their life does matter.  And as long as they have breath, there is hope.  They need to feel the kiss of heaven.

It is with great joy that I will be highlighting several unique ways you can get involved to give the gifts of love, joy and hope to women and girls who desperately need to know that their life matters this Christmas season.  For if not for the grace of God, we could be her.

I challenge you to join me this month in helping in some small way, to ease the pain, soothe the sorrows and reignite the hope of a woman or girl in need.  Let’s put our feet to the street and prove that love does conquer and heal. Make a commitment to yourself (or maybe even take on a project with a group of friends) to love on a sister-friend unconditionally in some special “you” way this season.  I’d love for you to share how you decided to reach out, and how it also touched you in the process!

Who will you reach out to this holiday season by sharing the true meaning of Christmas?

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

Share

HopeWares: Combined Hope Makes Women’s Dreams Come True

What is Hope?  For the Dalit women of India, it means the possibility of expectations, desires and dreams fulfilled.

The word “Dalit” means oppressed. For the many desperate women who have lived under the crushing oppression of the Hindu caste system for over three thousand years, it also means no hope.

“Dalit women say they can be their own worst enemies given that caste distinctions are ingrained from birth. Then there’s the prevalent belief that individuals somehow deserve their fate because of good or bad karma carrying over from the last life.” –Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times

Hurting Hearts & Combined Hope

After the tragic death of her daughter Anna, an Australian woman named Lynda Disher took a trip to India where she discovered “the horrific injustices that we as women here, rarely have to confront.”

“Anna had a passion to help the poor and bring joy to their lives. Like many young girls she struggled with being accepted by her peer groups but wrote in her diary that Jesus made her unique and she wanted others to know and embrace their uniqueness.” –Lynda Disher, HopeWares

She was challenged to make a difference. Fueled by her own grief, she connected with the grief and crippling oppression of the women she met. Woman to woman, hearts were united around a shared need for hope and the promise of a better tomorrow. 

These women did not want to live on handouts though, they wanted to make a difference for themselves and for their children—with their own hands, minds and ingenuity. That trip changed not only her life, but the lives of countless Dalit women.

HopeWares is Born

Through Lynda’s creative advocacy, her dream became a tangible reality.  Just one heart, one woman, one vision — and HopeWares was conceived.

Lynda observed that simply handing out money was not the solution. They needed more than money. They needed an opportunity to become educated and to learn skills that would pave the way to sustaining their families not to mention, freeing them from the bondages that had kept them down for thousands of years. HopeWares represented a light in their darkness, a flicker of hope.

“I don’t think I did anything wrong in my last life, I’m a human.” –Dalit Woman

The Solution — Sewing & Reaping

Working in partnership with Light Home, a home for children in Andhra Pradesh, HopeWares provides training in sewing and embroidery. At the end of the training program, the women receive a brand new treddle sewing machine. It is wonderful to imagine that something as simple as a sewing machine can symbolize freedom for a woman across the world, but it does!

“I have gained skills in tailoring, embroidery, and knitting and above all I have gained confidence in my future.” –Dalit Woman  

By creating colorful handbags, scarves, ottomans and home décor, the women are able to tend to their children and provide for their families. The profits from the goods (mostly designed by Lynda) and sold on the HopeWares website provide sewing machines and fund training schools that teach these rural women how to sew, thus, their tagline and purpose: You buy, we give.

Through her own grief, loss and sense of hopelessness, Lynda said yes to the call of her dream. And by saying yes to her dream, she gave hope by lighting the torch of the Dalit women’s dreams in India. Together with their combined hopes to make a difference for a better tomorrow–to raise the bar for the women so locked down by this ancient caste system they were prisoners of–their dreams really did come true.

A Brighter Future for the Next Generation

Today, there are up to an estimated 300 million people classified as Dalits, or “untouchables”, living in India. They are dehumanized, segregated. marginalized and suffer discrimination in education, employment, and health care. On top of that, Dalit women rank even lower than men. While the younger generation of Dalits have begun to stand up and plan for their future rights, they are still referred to as “untouchables.” 

Prejudice defines their lives… “Untouchables are shunned, insulted, banned from temples and higher caste homes, made to eat and drink from separate utensils in public places, and, in extreme but not uncommon cases, are raped, burned, lynched, and gunned down.” –National Geographic Magazine

How would it feel if your occupation or status in life were predetermined from birth? Mother Theresa said, “If I look at the mass I will never act.” And, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” If we can light the candle of just one person, we have made a difference, we have ignited hope.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

Additional Reading:

Dalit women find their voice through a newspaper, Los Angeles Times
Untouchable – National Geographic Magazine

To learn more or shop, visit HopeWares online.

© by April McCallum, Destiny’s Women

(Photos provided by HopeWares)

Share

Destiny’s Women: Dreams Do Come True — Are You Living Your Life on Purpose?

April McCallum is the founder, writer and publisher of Destiny’s Women,™ a blog “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

 

“Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity”  –Edwin Hubbel Chapin

Tell us about Destiny’s Women… 

The tagline for Destiny’s Women summarizes its purpose: “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women™”  As you can read in the Purpose Statement, the goal is to Advocate, Empower and Reform

Destiny is the inner purpose of a life that can be discovered or realized.  That encapsulates what I want to express to women: you are of value and your life has a purpose.  But, it’s not just about what you do.  Most importantly, it’s simply and profoundly about who you are as a woman, as a person. 

The bottom line is: If you don’t see a way of escape because you are living under some form of oppression (circumstance, bondage or mindset) that keeps you from living your best life–don’t settle!  I have heard so many women say, “It’s my life, that’s just the way it is”.  That’s a lie — There is hope.  Enter: the dream for Destiny’s Women.

“While there’s life, there’s hope” –Cicero

What is your passion?

AM: I am passionate about life, people and destiny, among other things I value.  I love to communicate about real life issues through writing, art, advocating and networking. And, to cross-pollinate or collaborate for meaningful purposes in order to make a difference.  With Destiny’s Women, that involves discussion and calls to action about the things that keep women oppressed and from living in freedom–from anything that hinders a woman from reaching her dreams and living her God-given destiny.  

How has your passion fueled your current dream?

AM: Destiny’s Women serves as a catalyst to spark a desire for women to be liberated and set free. It speaks to hope and challenges them to live their own life on purpose. It is also a call to those who will join in advocating for the life, freedom and destiny of women.  

Destiny’s Women has also provided an opportunity for some of my favorite interests to intersect—advocacy for oppressed women and girls, communicating truth (the key to freedom) and creativity, to name a few. It is a privilege to join my voice with others for women and girls imprisoned by oppression.

When your dream for Destiny’s Women grew wings–what form did it take in becoming a tangible living breathing reality?

AM: I wanted to find a simple yet widely accessible vehicle to carry the voice of Destiny’s Women. That vehicle came in the form of a blog. Community is at the heart of its purpose and the content serves that community. It is part information, part inspiration and part challenge.

I love that apart from statistics and data, it also allows voices on all sides of the subject to be heard. From those who advocate and intervene on behalf of others’ freedom and those who have found creative ways to share information or use their voices to raise awareness, to the women who have lived with various forms of oppression and broken free and women who share success stories that will serve to encourage others who aren’t quite yet there.

As your dream began to unfold, did you feel support from those around you? 

AM: Yes! I have had overwhelming support from all of my “sister friends” both near and far! We love to discover, understand and hear about others’ journeys.  Women find healing and relief in telling their own stories, and in the process, others are challenged and inspired–they find encouragement and hope for their own lives. And of course, it is an avenue to raise awareness, provoke thought, and invite people to get involved in the areas of justice, compassion and advocacy.

Once you step out and start living your dream on purpose, it brings a real sense of stewardship, greater focus and intentionality. It crystalizes things and shines a new light on possibility-thinking. I love that.

How is Destiny’s Women impacting the lives of women?

All in all, our stories (women’s stories)–our lives–are interwoven. That’s why the heart of the matters discussed resonate so deeply. Their brokenness is our brokenness. Their suffering is our suffering.  Their hopes and fears are our hopes and fears. And when we hear stories of our sisters who have found their freedom, healing, voice or success, the light shines just a little brighter for us. We want the opportunity to experience our own freedoms, joys and celebrations because we see it is possible for others.

“Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” –William Jennings Bryan

If you had to pick a couple of things that were the most challenging to your dream becoming a reality, what would they be?

AM: Many of the issues discussed are extreme in that they can impact lives in permanent ways.  That can go either direction—extremely positive or extremely negative. They speak to women’s realities whether through hardships (cultural or gender oppression, poverty and war, illness and disease, etc.), by their abusers (violence, sexual abuse, forms of exploitation, etc.), or self-inflicted/internal bondage (addictions, wrong mindsets and self-image issues) — and the various things that hinder them from living their destiny with freedom and purpose.

So, it’s the challenge of getting your heart and head around these very big and very real issues, and condensing them into bite-sized pieces so that people can be affected by them to the point of action.

A potential challenge might have been the victims’ vulnerability. There could have been a lack of transparency or willingness for women that needed to share and speak with their own voice, to get involved.  But that evaporated as soon as I stepped out. The road truly does rise up to meet you. I found that women wanted to express, share, reach out and touch others with their stories.  There’s healing in that process. They wanted to know that their oppression and hardships were not lived in vain. Overwhelmingly, women want to make a difference—they want their voice to be heard and their life to count.

Choose a couple of words that describe how stepping out and taking a chance on living your dream with Destiny’s Women make you feel.

AM: Celebratory. Grateful. Expectant. Purposed.

When you started imagining your dream’s potential—did you have any idea where it would take you?

AM: I am on the journey like every other woman who has said yes to her dream. It has already taken on even more verve and sparkle than I could have ever imagined in the beginning. One of the special things about dreams is they aren’t just for our own benefit, they are meant to be shared.

I believe that dreams are placed in our hearts and minds for a purpose, but we have a choice whether we take hold of the wings, or not. The more we invest ourselves, the more we are able to withdraw. In other words, the dream gives back

What advice would you offer others who are in the imagining stage of living on purpose?

AM: Once you know with certainty that this seed–this little dream–has been dropped from heaven into your heart for a reason, turn up the heat in the incubator. Fan the flames. It’s your dream and purpose. It’s a part of your destiny. Keep it alive–and whatever you do, keep dreaming!

When you know it is real and worth investing your life in–even if it’s only meant for a season—wrap yourself in it because it is yours.

Pray. Feel. Imagine. Research. Listen. Learn. Plan.  Invest time brainstorming–talk with people who champion your dream and understand the concept of living on purpose.  And then start creating. Take the necessary steps to take your dream from the “storyboarding stage” to putting hands, feet and a face on it, essentially, bringing it to life!   Your heart is already there.

Since you decided to take a risk and “go for it”, what are some of the ways your life or perspective have changed?

AM: A natural by-product of tipping your toe into the water and “going for it” is that the whole ocean seems to open up to you. New doors of discovery and opportunity suddenly seem to appear—a part of the grander purpose I’m sure. When you breathe, the air seems just a little bit sweeter.  It’s wonderful.

Once you’ve gone there and lived to tell the story so to speak, it’s more likely that you’ll be willing to take that risk again. Because the secret is, with the risk comes much reward, but–we have to be willing to take that first step.

The greatest reward of investing yourself by living on purpose, is that you’re not only investing in yourself, but in countless other lives–it’s that positive ripple effect. The women I have communicated with–met along this journey and have been honored to share in their stories–have blessed me.  Just by saying yes, being available to follow my dream and living my life on purpose—they have invaluably enriched the tapestry of my own life!

Destiny’s Women is for all of my sisters who are oppressed and deserve to live free, happy, purpose-filled lives, the “angels on earth” that advocate on their behalf, and women who are already living out their destiny, inspiring hope and loving life!

Are YOU living your life — on purpose?

© By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women

(Photo by Sam Mugraby)

Share
©Destiny's Women™ is a blog founded, written and published by April McCallum -- "Championing the Life, Freedom and Destiny of Women" Creative Commons License
This work by April McCallum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.