We all have that one person in our life. The one that makes us feel special every day and loved JUST as we are. They are our biggest fan and supporter, the one we always want to call first with exciting news. Our bright light in a sometimes dark world.
For me, that was my Aunt Brenda, or Aunt B as we called her. From babysitting me when I was younger, to becoming a friend and mentor as I got older. Aunt B made life fun. There was always laughter, always goofy shenanigans when she was around.
When Aunt B was 40, with 3 young kids, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through chemo, radiation, surgeries. She was in remission for 5 years when she had a recurrence. The breast cancer returned and had spread to her bones and lungs. The doctors told her she had an 11% chance of living 5 more years. She lived another 13.
She lived those 13 years full of life. She did not waste a moment. She had a hand written sticky note on her refrigerator that said “Never Give Up Hope!”. She lived by those words and inspired so many along the way.
When I found myself diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40, Aunt B was once again my guiding light. Lifting me up when I was down, calling me almost every day or sending an encouraging message. “I know how that feels. You will get through it. You are strong” she said. Even on the days I was in the fetal position, depressed, crying, scared.. she lifted me up.
During my months of treatment, I was amazed at the outpouring of support from friends, family, my community and even strangers. The love and light that lifted my family and carried us through that darkness, I will never forget.
I wanted others to feel that light. I wanted to take something scary and dark and turn it in to something positive. So, I started a non-profit called “B the Light” in honor of my Aunt B. Our mission is to provide random acts of kindness to people in need, with an emphasis on breast cancer survivors.
Since 2016, B the Light has given many $250 donations to nominated recipients, in addition to some special fundraisers for individuals. Last year, we were able to raise over $5,000 for a local woman battling stage 4 breast cancer who wanted to go to England to spend Christmas with her family there.
In 2018, B the Light t-shirts went on sale and raised $1200, which was donated to METAvivor in memory of Aunt B and all those we have lost to this disease, or are currently battling it. Our hope is to continue raising money for both acts of kindness and also metastatic breast cancer research.
Aunt B passed away on May 2, 2018 and as her daughter perfectly stated “we’d like to say the cause of death was exhaustion from running victory laps while beating cancer for 18 years”.
We will continue to shine light in her blessed memory. Thank you for your support.