Thursday, January 24, 2008


this is one of those posts i don't know how to correctly write. i am posting for my own benefit, largely, and for the memory of a dear friend who passed away this morning. but i think i'm mostly posting to raise awareness of a disease that is so brutally inclusive.

Andree Rice died this morning outside of seattle. her family was with her. her wonderful husband Bob, her spirited daughter Madison, her mother and sisters and others. her breast cancer had ebbed and flowed substantially since her 1999 diagnosis. the entire time i've known her, since working with her in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, she's battled challenges related to breast cancer. the entire time i've known her, however, not a week has gone by without an e-mail - largely to a group of her "angels" as she called us - updating us on her procedures, treatments, health and most importantly, imparting a joy and wisdom upon us that seemed unfairly backwards. it was she, suffering, gutting it out, who carried us, who didn't understand the things she knew well, and weren't living the life she was reveling in.

it was Andree, who was the true angel in the equation.

the above photo was taken during the Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day. that's Andree, in the yellow poncho being interviewed live for one of the station's morning shows. it's a picture that cracks me up each time I see it and think of it because of the back story. Andree, a jubilant, infectiously beautiful breast cancer fighter volunteered to be a media spokesperson for the Breast Cancer 3-Day while I was working PR for the event. we had a few calls, did the requisite media training (which she didn't need) and spoke on the phone a number of times prior to the event. it was as if i was her best and only friend (a sentiment many have attested to since), which ended up being one of her best traits. when we finally met on the event, we embraced like it'd been forever since we'd last spoken, although i'd been pestering her (and her husband) about interviews for weeks.

i think she even brought me chocolate-covered macadamia nuts from her home state of Hawaii that morning.

well, one of the TV stations wanted to include a walker in a live feed the first morning of the event and i wouldn't think of having anyone else go live but Andree. she attracted and engaged everyone who spoke with her. problem was, she got caught up in friends, emotions, hugs and the crowd and was exceedingly late to our meeting place. i later realized that asking Andree to simply walk to a meeting place is lunacy, as she'll find a hundred people and things to discover along the way. when we finally met up, we were minutes, literally a couple minutes to air time. the station's producer was screaming at me on the phone, the reporter was e-mailing, the rain was coming down and we were nowhere near their designated satelitte feed.

the producer gave me an out, saying we could do the interview over the noon show or some other time, but i wasn't - nor was Andree - going to have that. we pulled maneuvers reminiscent of stunt films, laughing the whole way, getting drenched in the process and clipped her mic on her with mere seconds to air, at which time she - fully composed and without a hint of the past few minutes' craziness - nailed an interview and melted the cameraman's (and anchors') hearts.

it is a memory that i will always chuckle at and hold dear, as it encompassed the wellspring of life Andree exuded at all times.

i'm sad that wellspring seems dry tonight. i hurt for Bob and Madison especially. but at the same time, i know it to be true that in just the three years i knew Andree, she has changed lives. she has raised awareness of the importance of breast health and prevention. she has encouraged living and promoted love. and all things considered, it's a joy to have been part of that party.

god bless you, Andree. thank you for all you've made me understand.

you can learn more about the fight against breast cancer, breast health information and prevention at now's also a great time to think about honoring your loved ones who have fought or are fighting breast cancer - or celebrate your survivorship - by participating in the Race for the Cure or the Breast Cancer 3-Day.



Blogger Kaeden said...

I walked that walk with her and I can tell you she was so mad at you for taking her away from that 1/8th of a mile. We had to convince her to go with you. I know what you are talking about and feeling...thank you for sharing.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Andy Woolard said...

Oh I know...believe me, I was heckled good for asking her to jump off the route even briefly! She let me know all about the wonderful people she was missing - just minutes into the walk! :)

My best to you, what a wonderful friend.

11:32 PM  
Blogger jwavrider said...

I've known Andree since 1982. She was and remains a beautiful soul. I've never met anyone who didn't love her. She made a difference in this world. I miss her.

12:19 AM  
Blogger JulieHaunani said...

Andy~ Thank you for sharing your wonderful words about Andree! I went to high school with her and I'm sure no one will be surprised to know that she was just as wonderful, warm & cheery in high school. Two other high school friends and I flew up to see her on January 10th and her warm smile and loving personality captured us then as it always did in school. She will be sorely missed by so many of us. Aloha to you and to all who were touched by Andree!

4:45 PM  
Anonymous noelani said...

Andree's spirit has touched so many lives and she will continue on in all of us. Andree and I met in 1979 and we have remained fast friends ever since. I also posted a story of our friendship that is worth sharing. I hope this spawns an awareness of the disease, and an appreciation for life and the loved ones we have near.
Much aloha to you all,

8:17 PM  
Anonymous TheresaRimini said...

Andree was my daughter's kindergarten teacher at Meridian Park. I'll never forget how surprised I was to walk in the room and see this gorgeous, radiant woman in a colorful short dress with great legs and a bright flower in her hair! What love and enthusiasm she exuded...hugging the kids each day as they left the classroom. Sophie continued to hug her everyday after school through 4th grade! She is missed and forever carried in our hearts!

4:18 PM  

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