International Women’s Day 2014: “Inspiring Change”

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY is a day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future with participants and advocates around the globe. Each year the United Nations declares an annual theme. The theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Inspiring Change”. View themes for previous years.

The vast array of communication channels, supportive spokespeople, equality research, campaigns and corporate responsibility initiatives means everyone can be an advocate inspiring change for women’s advancement. -International Women’s Day

It is a day we are challenged to make a difference by “thinking globally and acting locally.” Thousands of events are held annually on March 8th to inspire, challenge, and celebrate the achievements of women around the world. Whether they are business or government-related, social or networking events, the world stops to take notice of the progress and impact of women in and on our societies. Other events will focus on uplifting, inspiring, or commemorating women through the telling of history, by serving us through education, or through a variety of artistic presentations. Whatever form it takes, and wherever we are individually, we will celebrate the achievements, advancements, and value of women, with a combined voice.

For a brief history and timeline of International Women’s Day, visit InternationalWomensDay.com.

What does the 2014 International Women’s Day theme “Inspiring Change” mean for you personally?

Follow the conversation on Twitter at Women’s Day 2014 and use hashtags #womensday and #IWD2014.

Related Reading:

International Women’s Day 2013: You’ve Come a Long Way Baby… But We’re Not Done Yet!

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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Freedom Series: Abuse to Favor

 “For me, my dreams were shaped out of a childhood that was fenced in by fear”

Abuse to Favor is a 96-page minibook that is a part of the Freedom Series created by popular author and speaker, Michelle Borquez. Each booklet shares a woman’s true story about her journey from brokenness to freedom.

In Abuse to Favor, Jo Ann Aleman shares her story, struggles, and triumph over abuse.  It begins with her father, a man she recalls as generous and loving with his children, but extremely abusive to their mother.  Her “normal” was a violently abuse home life fueled by alcohol binges. A home (a life) that healthy families would see as filled with fear-invoking, pain-inducing, spirit-shattering chaos.  Time and again, her mother would pack the children up and flee for safety, then return when things seemed more settled, and so it went on and on.

The cycle brought on by her father’s rage and abuse directed at her mother caused her to go to a place she felt more secure–her mind–a place that no one could touch, a place that seemed safe. Like so many others in her situation, she dreamed about how her life would be different. She fantasized about someone coming to rescue and protect her: a savior.

But, as with any story of abuse, there’s always more than what appears on the surface. Why did her mother stay in that abusive situation? Her mother stayed because of her own experience with abuse. She and her siblings experienced great physical, emotional and mental abuse by their stepfather.  So she promised herself that her future children would never be subjected to a stepfather. But it wasn’t that he was a stepfather. It was that he was a broken abusive man.

“Many times we think of abuse as being only physical; however, abuse takes on many forms. Sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse—even neglect–are all perversions of real, unconditional love.”

Fast forward to Jo Ann Aleman’s adult life… with her childhood promises to herself still with her, she married someone she thought would take her in a direction that was new and better. To a place she could only recognize in her dreams. But he didn’t.  She shares about his abuse and the ultimate disintegration of the marriage.  So longing to be loved, she quickly found herself in another marriage, this time to an older man. She hoped he would bring the security she so desperately wanted. Again, it was not to be found. He too, abused her both physically and emotionally.

“Many nights I was awakened by his fists pummeling my face. He would get so drunk that he would black out, and the next morning we would wake up to a house that looked like a tornado had ripped through it… He was bent on compete destruction.”

As you may have noticed in your own life, there is this resilience about human nature. No matter how bad things get, no matter how improbable the odds, in our little broken torn-apart state, we still somehow find a way to reach out like a flower in the shadows, straining toward the sunshine, hoping against hope for something good.  Jo Ann Aleman was no different. Her heart reached out yet again, longing for love. She spent twelve years in “prison” with her third husband. A man who abused her through fear and intimidation, lashing out through physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse. But this time, it spilled over onto her daughter.

That’s when something shifted. This time, she didn’t reach out to a man, but to God. She writes, “Although we are all somewhat conditioned by our environment, something deep inside of us reveals the truth.” There was more for her.  She wanted once and for all, to be free.

Sharon Kay Ball (a professional counselor) uses biblical illustrations to define healthy and unhealthy thinking and behaviors, and speaks to the issues of conflict, power, authority, power struggles, and abuse that can affect any type of relationship. She also walks readers through common abuser behavior:  using rage, silence, intimidation, altering your sense of reality, criticizing, and blame-shifting to control their victim.

“His words only confirmed my feelings. They shaped me, took root in my heart, and I believed the things he said.”

Ball breaks down the phases in the cycle of abuse and talks about making a “safe plan.” Although it’s crucial to get out of an abusive relationship physically, it’s not enough. Victims need to purge themselves from the damaging affects of abuse that are left embedded in their minds and spirits. That means talking about trust, low self-image, forgiveness, anger, and learning how to move forward.

Aleman writes, “I was free on the surface, yet broken and deeply wounded inside.” That was, until she decided to no longer allow herself to be defined by abusive men, but by a loving God who offered hope and healing.

You may also be interested in:

Domestic Violence: But He Really is a Good Person

What is Emotional Abuse?

Quotes From Women Who Have Suffered Emotional Abuse

Sexual Violence Against Women: Rape, Abuse and Incest

Innocence Lost: Women and Childhood Sexual Abuse

Note: Rose Publishing provided me with an advanced reader copy of this booklet.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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Exchanging One Misery For Another

 

“Women and girls may themselves take the initiative to migrate in the hope of earning a decent income, escaping a miserable life, or supporting a family back home. In such cases, they are sometimes aware that they are going to work in commercial sex, considering this to be an acceptable short-term remedy to a desperate need to earn a living. They very rarely, however, are aware of the nature of the demands that will be made upon them, the conditions in which they are likely to be held, or the possible long-term repercussions of the activity.” International Labor Organization (ILO)

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GO RED FOR WOMEN 2013

Go Red For Women is an answer to The American Heart Association’s call asking America to go out and paint the town red to show support for women and heart disease.

One of the greatest myths about heart disease is that it is an illness that only affects older men.  As a response and call to dispel that myth, The American Heart Association created Go Red For Women. In their words, it’s “a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.”

Go Red For Women raises awareness, encourages women to band together in their efforts to fight heart disease, empowers them by providing educational tools, and encourages them to reduce their personal risk by leading a more aware and healthy lifestyle.

Here are 3 quick facts you may not know about women and heart disease:

  • Heart Disease is the number 1 killer of women
  • Heart Disease is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined
  • Heart Disease is the cause of death of 1 in 3 women, about one death every minute

Learn More: Heart Disease Statistics at a Glance  and Common Myths About Heart Disease. Watch the Official GoRed4Women You Tube Video: “The Real Women of 2012”.

Contributing to Women’s Heart Health is only a heartbeat away! You can SHOP and/or DONATE online today.    

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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THE DELIVERER: An Interview with Abolitionist & Author Kathi Macias

 

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning author who writes from the heart about some of the most important issues of our time: human trafficking, sex slavery, homelessness, border issues, freedom of religion, and historically courageous women. She is also an abolitionist, fighting and rallying others to fight, against modern-day slavery with her Freedom Series, a collection of fiction novels published by New Hope publishers. The third book in the Freedom series, The Deliverer follows her second book, Special Delivery, and her inaugural title, Deliver Me From Evil.

“I was horrified. I was also convinced that I had to do everything possible to help educate others about this widespread horror and to call them to join the fight.”

View the Book Trailer Now

Join me as we discuss the human trafficking novel, The Deliverer, and learn more about Kathi’s work and heart to see people set free:

While this is the third and final book in the Freedom Series, I’m sure there are people who are just learning about it. Would you please share what prompted you to write these books on such topic as relevant and difficult as human trafficking?

I was finishing up my previous fiction series for New Hope Publishers (the Extreme Devotion Series, dealing with the persecuted Church around the world) when Andrea Mullins (the publisher at New Hope) asked me what topic I wanted to tackle next. We discussed a few possibilities, and then she suggested human trafficking. I was aware of it and thought it was terrible but had no idea how widespread it was. I agreed to do some preliminary research and get back to her. When I discovered there are more than 27 million people held in various forms of human trafficking (sexual slavery, forced labor or military conscription, involuntary donation of body parts/organs) and that many of them are children (including an estimated 100,000—300,000 MINORS held in sexual slavery in the US today!), I was horrified. I was also convinced that I had to do everything possible to help educate others about this widespread horror and to call them to join the fight. Not only have I now written/released the Freedom Series on human trafficking, but I’m speaking on it everywhere/every chance I get.

What was your original objective in writing these books, Deliver Me From Evil, Special Delivery, and The Deliverer? And, what are you hearing back from people who have read the books? How are they taking action?

Originally my plan was to see the books alert readers to this horrific crime and, hopefully, challenge them to get involved in fighting it some way. That seems to be happening, but on such a larger scope than I had imagined. The response from readers is overwhelming! Pastors have written to say they are challenging their entire church to get involved on some level, and I’m being invited to speak all over the country on this topic. I am thrilled to see the Light being shined in this terrible darkness at last! As for specific actions, pastors and civic leaders are inviting me (or others in this ministry) to come and speak to their congregations/groups to help educate them on this massive tragedy. Readers tell me they are posting about my books all over the net to help snag people’s attention. I’m getting invitations to speak on radio and TV as well. I’ve also been contacted by readers who are getting involved in setting up safe houses for rescued victims, which is a huge need. I was even contacted by the Department of Homeland Security and invited to participate in group conference calls on the topic. Overall, I’m thrilled at the way God is using these books to help sound the alarm and to “rescue the perishing.”

It seems there is always someone in your books who is an intercessor. Why is that important for you to include?

This is vital to me, and as you said, I almost always include an intercessor in my novels. I know there were intercessors in my own life who prayed me through some incredibly dangerous and difficult times, and I appreciate those heroes of the faith more than I can express. Highlighting their importance in my books accomplishes two things: it enables me to honor those faithful intercessors who often get no recognition in this world, and it also calls others to get involved in intercession as well.

You write books as you often call them, parables with a purpose, on topics such as human trafficking, the persecuted church, illegal immigration, and your Christmas 2012 book is about homelessness. Some might call you an advocate. Why is it important for Christians, and the church as a whole, to discuss these issues?

You’re right that I call my novels “parables with purpose,” because I believe Jesus is our example and that’s what He told to His followers—parables with purpose. He didn’t just tell them “nice stories” to entertain them. He told stories that would grab them right where they lived, and then challenge them to change their hearts, their minds, and their lives. The Church has always been at the forefront of serious social change, leading the charge to abolish slavery for instance, and leading the charge on these other issues is right where the Church needs to be now. The first step is to discuss the issues, to make people aware of them, and then to call them to action. I believe gripping fiction is one of the most effective ways to do that.

Will you give us a glimpse, a taste of things to come — without getting too far ahead — of what’s in store for your next series and books on the horizon?

In addition to the 2012 Christmas novel, Unexpected Christmas Hero, dealing with homelessness in America, I will be releasing a new series starting in January. The first of the three novels is called The Moses Quilt, and it deals with a contemporary interracial romance, set against the background of a quilt that tells the story of the courageous, faith-filled woman known as Harriet Tubman. A contemporary novel dealing with the issue of abortion will follow, with the first woman doctor in America, Elizabeth Blackwell, as our backdrop heroine. The final book will be built around the much beloved Fanny Crosby, as we deal with the issue of people with disabilities. That series is from New Hope Publishers, but I also have a book releasing in the Spring of 2013 from B&H Publishers called Last Chance for Justice. It’s part of the multi-author Bloomfield Series, and I’m very excited about it.

You also write a devotional blog. Can you tell us what the focus is and where we can find it?

I started writing a weekly devotional several years ago, in response to a request from the then newly formed group CAN (Christian Authors Network). I sent it out as a group email and had about 40 recipients then. The devotional mailing quickly grew and expanded beyond the CAN group, with countless readers signing up to receive it. I also started posting it each week on my devotional blog (http://kathimacias.com/category/devotional-2/), which is part of my primary website (www.kathimacias.com), where you will also find my “Easy Writer” blog, which is more writing-related. (You can also sign up there to receive the weekly devotional in your inbox.) Over the years the devotional has been picked up by Crosswalk, Black Christian News, Latino Christian News (I offer it in Spanish as well as English), Believe.com, Christians in Recovery, etc., so the readership has mushroomed beyond anything I ever imagined. God is amazing, isn’t He?

Finally, we know you as an award-winning author, but you also enjoy speaking for women’s events, and other groups, as well. On what areas or topics do you focus your speaking presentations? How can a church or group find out more about having you speak for their event?

I speak on various topics, including the issues I address in my books, but on other topics too. One of my most requested topics is “When Passion and Purpose Collide.” That, along with several other popular topics, can be found in the speaking section of my website (http://kathimacias.com/speaking/).  To see my current speaking schedule and/or to explore the possibility of having me come and speak, just go to http://kathimacias.com/speaking/speaking-schedule/ and click on the Christian Speakers Services button to make contact. You can also see some of my speaking endorsements at http://kathimacias.com/speaking/endorsements/.

FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY! To Enter to win a free copy of The Deliverer by Kathi Macias, simply post a comment below. You can also help spread the truth about human trafficking by re-posting this interview on Facebook and sharing it with your friends. The winner will be announced by Sept 30, 2012!

Follow me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

For more opportunities for free copies of The Deliverer by Kathi Macias, please visit Facebook.com/CSSVBT.KathiMacias.

Note: I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com). 

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

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Shadows in the Sun: A Book Celebrating Womanhood

 

It seems impossible that babies are still being killed in the womb, and even after birth, just because they are a specific gender, but it is a reality.  Female infanticide, or “gendercide” is still happening in the 21st century. It is the reason Bangladesh-born author, Rukhsana Hasib, decided to write the book, “Shadows in the Sun”.

From firsthand experience she writes, “Being from an Eastern culture, I am acutely aware of the abuses and oppression of women in Eastern societies, particularly among the poor. The birth of a daughter is still considered a misfortune by a vast number of people.” According to a 2011 report, 50,000 female fetuses are aborted every month in India alone. 

“It’s a reminder of how horrible life still is for many women and why we need to support one another and the freedom of all women to be full human beings” –Reader

In some cultures, the birth of a boy is widely celebrated, while the discovery that a mother is carrying a girl in her womb is not. In fact, it is cause for grave disappointment, shame and even murder. The mindset changes from carrying a baby, to a nameless, faceless, “it”.  A girl.  A thing to be discarded and destroyed, just because of the gender. Countless news reports tell harrowing stories of mothers who throw their baby daughters out of hospital rooms, into rivers, or onto garbage heaps.

While India has outlawed selective abortions of female fetuses, it has not stopped the crime. Females in many parts of the culture are still considered inferior to males, and gendercide continues. A 2012 article by The Economist: The War on Baby Girls: Gendercide states, “for millions of couples, the answer is: abort the daughter, try for a son.”  Worse still, research reveals the belief and practice is not limited to the poor and uneducated, and is found on almost every continent.

“This book will open up controversial discussions in many book clubs about the roles of women in society and the difficult choices they have to make to better the next generation of women” -Reader

Through the story of Shadows in the Sun, author Rukhsana Hasib adds her voice to the millions of women who have stood up and fought for women’s rights, “with the hope that eventually our collective voices will ring loudly enough to be heard in every corner of the world.”  

Many use “selective abortion” to get rid of female babies. Not just out of the womb, but out of the family structure, the society, and their place in the world, literally robbing them from their destiny. Rukhsana Hasib, along with advocates against gendercide look forward to the time when “the birth of a daughter is no longer considered a misfortune, as a mere shadow in the sun, but as valuable as the sun itself, which nurtured the earth like the mother who gave birth and sustained life.”

Long held belief systems are powerful, but not impossible to break through. As with any cultural shift, negatively embedded belief systems must first be dismantled in the mind. Life is a gift to be valued and honored, regardless of gender.

We need to protect, celebrate and empower the next generation of women. The more light that is shed on the issue of gendercide, the less room there will be for evil to propagate in the darkness. 

Author Biography

Rukhsana Hasib came to the United States in 1971, earned an MBA at Rutgers University, and went on to work as a commercial lending officer. She is the author of the novel Shackles of Time and a short story called Redemption of Red, which was published in an anthology of Diaspora writers, poets, and artists in 2011.

More Reading:

All Those Little Faces’: Elizabeth Vargas Explores India’s ‘Gendercide’  

In the third world, unwanted baby girls ‘disappear’. It’s called gendercide. And it’s happening in this country, too  

Follow Rukhsana on Twitter @rukhsanahasib, or on Facebook

Join me at @DestinysWomen on Twitter.

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”
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The Heart of MARY KAY: Enriching the Lives of Women

What do you think of when you hear “Mary Kay”?  Do you think of the symbolic Mary Kay pink Cadillac, assorted shades of pink lipstick, or a group of women friends gathering to sample new cosmetics and skincare products?  Think again.

Founder Mary Kay Ash said, “I’ve often said that we are doing something far more important than just selling cosmetics; we are changing lives.”  The tagline for the Mary Kay Foundation is, “A Legacy of Love”, born out of Mary Kay Ash’s ongoing desire to help women live better, offer opportunities to give, and bring hope to those less fortunate. The Foundation was launched in 1996 and continues today with the goal of ending the epidemic of violence against women and to end women’s cancers.

Do you know what the #1 cause of injury is for women ages 15 to 44? It is Domestic Violence. There are no boundaries for domestic violence. It affects young and old, rich and poor and reaches across all demographics. Not only do victims suffer physical harm, but psychological and emotional pain as well.

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Every October, the Mary Kay Foundation awards grants to women’s domestic violence shelters across the United States. In 2011, the Foundation awarded $20,000 grants to more than 150 women’s domestic violence shelters across the nation for a total of $3 million. Each year, an award is also given to at least one women’s shelter in every state.

Mary Kay Inc. and independent sales force members have lobbied Congress and state legislatures since the 1980s on issues including the Violence Against Women Act and most recently, teen dating violence awareness and prevention.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

On top of that, Mary Kay has also played a partnership role in introducing preventive curriculum for teen dating violence and lending support to the Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month by joining forces with the national nonprofit, Break the Cycle to sponsor its interactive Ending Violence DVD. The film has been made available to schools nationwide since 2010, along with other program tools.

Women’s Cancers

In tandem with advocacy efforts to end violence against women, Independent Mary Kay Beauty Consultants are promoting the sixth annual Team Up for Women! ® fundraiser March 23 to May 12.

  • One in three women are diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime.
  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.

In 2011, the Mary Kay Foundation awarded $1.3 million in grants to select doctors and medical scientists focused on cutting-edge research and curing cancers that affect women. Since 1996, the Foundation has given more than $14 million to support this effort.

Mary Kay Ash’s legacy of enriching women’s lives, lives on. From a $5,000 ground-breaking startup in 1963 to a global multibillion-dollar success, she has put her money where her heart is.  Have you ever noticed that there’s something a little extra special that happens when people purpose to think and give outside of themselves? “Before you ever receive the wonderful treasures of a happy life, you must first give. Give of yourself. Be of service to others. Only what you give can be multiplied back into your own life.” –Mary Kay Ash.

Mary Kay Resources & ProgramsSocial Responsibility & Giving Back

Twitter: @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”
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GO RED FOR WOMEN Campaign Celebrates Women’s Heart Health

 

What does it mean when 500,000 women drop off the planet with similar life-ending issues, and no one stops to take notice of their linked cause and effect?  In large part, people weren’t paying attention. They weren’t connecting the dots. Why? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), as a whole, we didn’t view or relate to Cardiovascular disease as a women’s issue. We saw it as an “older man’s disease”. 

Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of Women in the United States -AHA

The AHA needed to find a way to get the attention of the public, especially the women who were at the greatest risk. But getting their attention was only a beginning. They needed to raise mass awareness about the cause and effect of our health lifestyles and the surrounding factors that contribute to our heart health.  Along with advocacy efforts, re-education was also critical because most women ignored warnings and symptoms not understanding that women were prime targets for heart disease.

Heart Disease Kills More Women than ALL Cancers Combined –AHA

The Red Dress

In 2003, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) teamed with the American Heart Association and others to raise awareness for women and heart disease.  The NHLBI introduced the Red Dress as a symbol that unified all of their efforts. AHA adopted the Red Dress symbol to create synergy among all the groups fighting for their collaborative cause.

The Go Red for Women® movement challenges women to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk.

Are You Ready to “Go Red” for Women?

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • Although the official “Go Red for Women®” Day was February 3, 2012, you can plan your own event ANY day of the year!  It’s an easy and fun way to raise awareness and engage your networks.  Think about your own networks: corporate sponsorship events, church groups, fitness groups, small business owners, neighborhood friends, family–wherever people connect with people!  Have fun with the red dress–women love to dress up and get creative using themes!
  • Join with other women to help raise awareness and funds for heart disease: Attend a Go Red for Women Luncheon in your area.
  • If you have the ability to make a significant financial contribution, consider joining arms with other committed and passionate women through the Circle of Red campaign.
  • As with all causes, the energy and creativity of grassroots efforts makes a profound difference. With the Red for Women Get-Together, you can do it your way!  Get free resources (PowerPoints, posters, flyers, guides, etc.), start your own fundraising page online, access real-life stories, swap heart-healthy recipes, and more.
  • Shop at ShopHeart.org for eye-catching Go Red items that support the cause.
  • Consider creating a memorial or tribute page in honor of a woman you love. What a personal and impacting way to showcase the threat and reality of heart disease in women.
  • Show your support for women’s heart health by shopping. It doesn’t get any easier than this! View the online list of corporate sponsors & supporters.

To Donate or Learn More about ways you can get involved, visit GoRedForWomen.org online!

Have YOU Gone Red Yet?

Related Article: Heart Health for the Love of Women

Women’s Information on: Signs of heart disease, risks, prevention, questions to ask your doctor, and more, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Go Red and Go Red for Women are trademarks of AHA. The Red Dress Design is a trademark of U.S. DHHS.

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

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A Book about Life & Love: Promise Me: How a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer

Promise Me is a book written by Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Founder and CEO, Nancy G. Brinker, the strongest advocate for breast cancer in the world, and Susan’s sister. There’s a special bond between sisters that no other relationship can compare to on earth. Isadora James said, “A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.”

“Almost every candid photograph I have of Suzy seems to have been snapped just as she’s bubbling up to giggle, that precise moment when you can see the laughter in her eyes and feel the active upturn of her mouth, but the not-quite sound of it is forever suspended in the air, teasing like the unplayed eighth note of a full octave. Even in the dream, I ache for the unfinished music of her life.” –Nancy G. Brinker

Suzy and Nancy Goodman were more than sisters. They were best friends, confidantes, and partners in the grand adventure of life. For three decades, nothing could separate them. Not college, not marriage, not miles. Then Suzy got sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977; three agonizing years later, at thirty-six, she died.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Goodman girls were raised in postwar Peoria, Illinois, by parents who believed that small acts of charity could change the world. Suzy was the big sister—the homecoming queen with an infectious enthusiasm and a generous heart. Nancy was the little sister—the tomboy with an outsized sense of justice who wanted to right all wrongs. The sisters shared makeup tips, dating secrets, plans for glamorous fantasy careers. They spent one memorable summer in Europe discovering a big world far from Peoria. They imagined a long life together—one in which they’d grow old together surrounded by children and grandchildren. Suzy’s diagnosis shattered that dream.

In 1977, breast cancer was still shrouded in stigma and shame. Nobody talked about early detection and mammograms. Nobody could even say the words “breast” and “cancer” together in polite company, let alone on television news broadcasts. With Nancy at her side, Suzy endured the many indignities of cancer treatment, from the grim, soul-killing waiting rooms to the mistakes of well-meaning but misinformed doctors. That’s when Suzy began to ask Nancy to promise. To promise to end the silence. To promise to raise money for scientific research. To promise to one day cure breast cancer for good. Big, shoot-for-the-moon promises that Nancy never dreamed she could fulfill. But she promised because this was her beloved sister.

“I promise, Suzy. . . .  Even if it takes the rest of my life.”

Suzy’s death—both shocking and senseless—created a deep pain in Nancy that never fully went away. But she soon found a useful outlet for her grief and outrage. Armed only with a shoebox filled with the names of potential donors, Nancy put her formidable fund-raising talents to work and quickly discovered a groundswell of grassroots support. She was aided in her mission by the loving tutelage of her husband, restaurant magnate Norman Brinker, whose dynamic approach to entrepreneurship became Nancy’s model for running her foundation. Her account of how she and Norman met, fell in love, and managed to achieve the elusive “true marriage of equals” is one of the great grown-up love stories among recent memoirs. 

“When Suzy died, my life’s work was born.  Her meaning became my mission”

Nancy’s mission to change the way the world talked about and treated breast cancer took on added urgency when she was herself diagnosed with the disease in 1984, a terrifying chapter in her life that she had long feared. Unlike her sister, Nancy survived and went on to make Susan G. Komen for the Cure into the most influential health charity in the country and arguably the world. A pioneering force in cause-related marketing, SGK turned the pink ribbon into a symbol of hope everywhere. Each year, millions of people worldwide take part in SGK Race for the Cure events. And thanks to the more than $1.5 billion spent by SGK for cutting-edge research and community programs, a breast cancer diagnosis today is no longer a death sentence. In fact, in the time since Suzy’s death, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer has risen from 74 percent to 98 percent.

Promise Me emotionally and elegantly chronicles how sisterly love changed the course of modern medicine by catalyzing women around the world to battle breast cancer.” —Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Promise Me is a deeply moving story of family and sisterhood, the dramatic “30,000-foot view” of the democratization of a disease, and a soaring affirmative to the question: Can one person truly make a difference?

View Video Now: “Straight Talk from the Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, Founder & CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®”

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

 

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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”

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