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I just returned from the First Annual National Women’s Survivors Convention (NWSC) in Nashville and the mantra that keeps playing in a continuous loop in my head is “Girl Power!”  Why?  Because the courageous women founders, speakers, authors, and attendees of the NWSC all demonstrated that hard work, perseverance, focus and belief in one’s self and one’s cause will result in achieving great things well beyond what can ever be imagined.  AND, that you can have a lot of fun along the way!

Five years ago, Karen Shayne wrote the idea for the NWSC in red lipstick on her bathroom mirror and, through tireless work with her partner in crime Judy Pearson, made that a reality this weekend complete with a red carpet pajama party walk, live performances by the Little River Band, and leading songwriters from Nashville.  The inspiring speakers included Olympic medalists and cancer survivors Shannon Miller and Scott Hamilton, Otis Brawley of the American Cancer Society, and many, many others who discussed important issues such as financial planning, sexuality, careers, clinical trials, and nutrition.  Dr. Susan Love discussed her commitment to treating the patient, not just the disease, and to finding the cause of breast cancer through cutting edge research and by harnessing the power of an Army of Women.  Speaker Geralyn Lucas showed a wonderful sense of humor as well as a desire to be “normal” going into her mastectomy with beautiful red lipstick, emerging breastless but with the ruby red shade still glowing (much to the amazement and admiration of the OR and recovery nurses of Mt. Sinai Hospital).    Author and dear friend, Melanie Young, talked of staying fearless and fabulous in the face of a breast cancer diagnosis, the subject of her recently published book.   New friend and writer/blogger extraordinaire, Suleika Jaouad, shared the story of her diagnosis and treatment journey, demonstrating a maturity and wisdom well beyond her years.   Molly Macdonald of the Pink Fund was faced with a devastating diagnosis while at the same time served foreclosure papers that resulted in a difficult divorce and financial distress.  She went on to not only battle and beat the disease but to change careers, starting the Pink Fund to help women with cancer diagnoses get help in paying their bills.    The list of inspirational examples of extraordinary women goes on and on…..

I am so honored and in awe of all who I met and with whom I reconnected.  Such grace, courage, and humor to face and fight what could instead be soul destroying diagnoses.  They all made a choice and we must remember that we, too, have a choice when dealing with any difficult news and challenges.  We can crumble into a ball and have a pity party, hiding from our new reality, OR we can face it head on.  As we build Meals to Heal and seek to make the lives of cancer patients and caregivers easier and less stressful by providing them with solutions to their nutritional issues, we will face challenges that may seem insurmountable, as well.  The amazing women at the National Women’s Survivors Convention showed me that with hard work, perseverance, focus, and belief in one’s self and one’s cause we at Meals to Heal really CAN make a difference in others’ lives and make proper nutrition an integral part of cancer care delivery in this country.  And we will!!  Here’s to Girl Power!

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