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Celebrating at In Living Pink

After hearing the words “you have breast cancer,” you wonder if you will ever be happy again. For women who are young, I think it is even worse. Many are at a point in their lives where they should feel jubilant, free and excited for a long future — and those four words have the power to squash those sentiments in an instant.

I don’t think any young woman who has been told she has breast cancer will ever forget hearing those words. Some of us, like me, heard them over the phone and were not prepared for it at all. Others heard them in the doctor’s office surrounded by family. It doesn’t really matter — the impact is the same.

Chris Wragge, master of ceremonies, with the In Living Pink benefit committee.
Chris Wragge, master of ceremonies, with the In Living Pink benefit committee and me (2nd from right).

However, last Friday night at YSC’s annual In Living Pink gala, as I looked across a room full of young survivors dressed to the nines, I temporarily forgot those four words.

There is something about dressing up, putting on your best clothes and jewelry you don’t normally wear and going out. Every woman knows how this feels, cancer or no cancer … it is the feeling of looking beautiful and knowing it. It is the feeling of energy that comes with your hair looking awesome and makeup looking perfect. It is the smiles you get from strangers who see you and think of the last time they were also dressed up and went out. To me, this is a celebration of life. It feels good.

I can say from experience as a constituent and as the CEO of the organization, YSC excels in everything it does to support and educate young women with breast cancer and fulfill its mission.

From left to right: Tabetha Kay from Liv/giant; YSC CEO Jennifer Merschdorf; YSC Board President Lisa J. Frank; Steve Klein; Elysa Walk from Liv/giant.
From left to right: Tabetha Kay from Liv/giant; Me; YSC Board President Lisa J. Frank; Steve Klein; Elysa Walk from Liv/giant.

In addition, I believe quality of life is an important part of our work. Quality of life means different things to different people — but I think it also is illustrated when a young women who has lost her hair or gained 40 pounds from treatment gets dressed up and feels amazing being surrounded by other people that get her … they don’t judge but, rather, empower. With these people you don’t have to answer questions about why you look different … they already know, and they don’t care!

So last Friday night, as the dance floor rocked with young survivors, doctors, friends and family late into the night, I felt proud of YSC. I felt proud of how YSC got to that point, and I felt proud to know that every young survivor there felt at home and happy at that moment — forgetting those four words ... then I joined them on the dance floor!

We extend a special thank you to honorees Celgene, Liv/giant and YSC’s founding members; Chris Wragge, our master of ceremonies; Lisa Frank, YSC board president; Benefit Chairs Stephanie Pendray, Dayna Varano and Jean Won; the In Living Pink Benefit Committee; volunteers; donors and everyone who attended and made the event so incredible!

Photos from this event are available for viewing on our In Living Pink Pinterest board. (