"We want women to survive and thrive through breast cancer." And with that statement, applause thundered throughout the room.
Knott's Berry Farm has proudly partnered with the Orange County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen, and it was there at the celebration breakfast that the true power of it all began to unfold. The room was a sea of pink, but it wasn't just the decor. Audience and speakers alike were decked out in the color that has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness, showing their support thereof and solidarity with one another.
Because everyone has a story.
Every. single. person. in that room had been touched in some way or another by breast cancer... whether they were a survivor, a support, or were there to honor someone's memory. In Orange County, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. But, thanks to Komen's funding of research, new treatments and awareness of the importance of annual mammograms to detect breast cancer in its earliest and most curable stages, the survival rate for breast cancer has risen dramatically over the 33 years of the organization. Leading to many more celebrations like this one.
Because there was a strength in that room as I've never before seen. These women were powerful, and many of them weren't even aware of their strength and beauty. The survivors stood tall. And a few women, still undergoing treatment, stood the tallest of them all. These women will not go down without a fight.
They've taken their stories, their struggles, and their pain... and turned it into strength. Turning towards one another for not just comfort, but the recognition that they weren't alone in this battle, and then taking that strength and bringing it out into the world to help others.
The mic was passed, and a few stories were shared. Many had a similar theme: "I can't have cancer. I don't have TIME for this." Because it's often overlooked... just because a woman deals with "the C word," it's not like the rest of the world slows down around her. One woman mentioned her own struggles in balancing real life again, and said she worried about spending too little time focusing on her son. But out of the mouth of babes sometimes come the healing words that are needed the most: "Mom, remember that day when we were helping to save lives? That's what it's all about."
Breakfast was concluded the way it began... with thunderous applause and cheers... as Rebecca shared her own experience: "I am 4 years away from cancer, and every day I walk further away from it and give it the finger."
It had been stated that the journey through breast cancer is like riding a rollercoaster. There are definitely ups and downs, any maybe even a bit of screaming and crying. But there is also strength in numbers, and no one needs to go through the journey alone.
With that thought in mind, the breast cancer survivors went for a symbolic ride together on the Pony Express... one of the rollercoasters of Knott's Berry Farm.
Surrounded and empowered by those who have all "been there before," their screams of fear turned instead to screams of joy.
Knott's Berry Farm is playing a pretty big role in helping to find a cure for breast cancer. From February 1 through March 31, they are offering a special "Pink Ticket" for theme park admission (available for purchase online at www.knotts.com), as well as limited edition specially designed "pink" merchandise. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Susan G. Komen Orange County. And to kick off the promotion, Knott's Berry Farm has generously donated $25,000, which will provide 400 women in Orange County with life-saving breast health services.
Guests entering the theme park during the time of the promotion will be greeted by this special display, and guests are able to purchase a commemorative limited edition magnet to place on the display in honor of, or in memory of, someone affected by breast cancer.
I, myself, left a magnet in honor of my mom's best friend, Jackie. She is definitely a strong woman, and the world is a much better place with her still a part of it.
These magnets, as well as special edition pink Knott's for the Cure shirts, are available in select merchandise locations inside Knott's Berry Farm, and all proceeds will benefit Komen Orange County.
You can even take a picture in-park and share it with your social media network.
Because it's all about spreading the word. Touching people at an individual level, so that their voices as a collective become that much stronger.
For instance... Jacque is a survivor. She got through it, and didn't let her cancer define her. Just a little piece of her story: She is a single mom, and had just started taking classes at a community college when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She found out on her son's 2nd birthday. When many women might crumble under the strain, Jacque decided that she was not going to let it win. She continued her classes and graduated with a full scholarship to UCI. Just having graduated from there with a B.A. in Psychology, she is about to continue her education by going for her doctorate.
She is most definitely an inspiration, along with so many other women I had the pleasure of meeting that day. As individuals, they are strong. As a collective, hear them ROAR!
Show your love and support by participating in this wonderful event at Knott's Berry Farm.