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 komen.org. 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.