My first speaking event as an author and cancer survivor was yesterday for the Babes Against Breast Cancer (BABC) fund raiser at the Southward Ho Country Club (SHCC). Speaking is not my strong suit. I tend to stumble over words and easily lose thoughts along the way. Talking about cancer; the cancer I am straddled with for the rest of my life, is even harder. Because of the emotional topic, I expected a catch in my voice and a tear or two. I become verklempt, and it might take a few moments to compose myself.
I practiced reading a short chapter, carefully pronouncing phonemes and pausing for punctuation. Index cards were sequenced to prompt the talk along. I packed my tote bag the night before. My hair thankfully behaved as well as expected considering August’s humidity. I wore light makeup, a long skirt, and a white blouse.
My friend, Jan Gatta, had invited me even though my book, Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community Courage, and Cancer, was not yet launched. I brought galley book copies to browse through, collateral materials as giveaways, and donated $2 to the American Cancer Society (ACS) for each pre-ordered book.
The BABC fund raiser committee decorated the SHCC’s sunny room in cheery pink table-scapes and flower arrangements. There were raffles and products sold with proceeds going to the ACS fund. Lunch was delicious, the Babe Pink Drink refreshing, and the group dance was fun. I was overwhelmed by the incredible care, attention, and purpose that went into this event. I had a moment of verklempt just thinking about it.
I walked to the podium clutching my book and index cards. I carefully read through the chapter and quickly conveyed that this cancer story was just one story in my lifetime of stories. Midway, I abandoned the index cards. I wanted to tell the ladies, all cheery and pretty in pink, that they were an important cog in defeating cancer. Fund raisers force awareness for research and clinical trials that brings a real cure closer. It is the grassroot efforts of people, like the BABC, who make it possible for people like me to live well past our expiration dates and have a lifetime of stories. There were no verklempt moments.
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The book is published by She Writes Press and will be available everywhere books are sold on October 3, 2017.
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