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Back in October When I was still reeling from the news that I had been diagnosed with cancer, I was offered a black and pink tote bag filled with information about breast cancer and programs offered by the Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) of Austin. I accepted this gift with distaste…

You’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, but we have this lovely parting gift for you, enjoy!”

I never imagined actually using this bag. I did not need a reminder of CANCER hanging on my shoulder, especially since I knew I would end up with scars and fake breasts that would do all the reminding I would ever need. As usual, however, I was all wrong about the bag. Inside, there was a pretty handmade pillow that would serve as a lifesaver when I was recovering from mastectomy surgery. While I was in the hospital, a representative from the Breast Cancer Resource Center stopped by my room and gave me a special handmade tank top that held the post-surgery drains that dangled from my body. I wore that special top every day for nearly two weeks. What became readily apparent was the fact that the folks at the BCRC were serious about support–the bag was just the beginning.

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BCRC has offered me other modes of support including a patient navigator to talk with on the phone, a message board and website to discuss treatment (and to vent), and special luncheons to connect with other survivors. Good Stuff. It is so comforting to connect with people that know how I feel. (This is a big deal for me since I have spent most of my life NOT talking about how I feel.)

The big fundraising event for this organization is called Art Bra Austin, and it involves breast cancer survivors modeling special bras that have been created by anyone who wants to be artsy crafty with unmentionables. At first, I scoffed at the idea of modeling a bra. Not only am I in the worst physical shape of my entire adult life, I have no hair, I’m losing my eyebrows, my breasts (tissue expanders) are just weird, and I still have surgical scars.

I also thought that the women who participate must be the bravest people in the entire world.

I saw photos from past Art Bra events, and many of the women were just like me. Radiation redness, jiggly parts, bald heads. But their faces told another story. They looked confident, excited, and ALIVE. What a wonderful celebration of life! So when the call came for survivor models, I filled out the paperwork. I sat there for a few beats, my finger hovering over the Send button. Finally, I took a deep breath and sent off my forms. When I told my husband, his reaction was shock and then he said he was really proud of me.

I don’t know much about what I will wear or how the evening will go yet, but between now and May, I will particiapte in orientation, fittings, and model school. There’s even a few pre-event events where the models drum up support by showing off the bras at local shopping areas! Oh, and I’ll probably need a spray tan. We don’t need my Irish paleness to blind the audience!

Here’s more info:

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BCRC proudly introduces the hottest ticket in town, Art Bra Austin!

Join us for an event as funky, fierce, and feminine as the breast cancer survivors we serve. Art Bra Austin will showcase an array of eclectic art bras, modeled by BCRC clients and advocates – all of whom are breast cancer survivors. This fundraiser is a tribute to their fighting spirit.

Presented by the Linda P. Acosta Foundation, Art Bra Austin is Saturday, May 19, 2012 from 7 – 11 p.m. at the Austin Music Hall.

https://www.facebook.com/artbraaustin

An outtake from the bag and pillow photo session…Maggie Mae the Photo Assistant!

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