** Guest post. By Judy Schwartz Haley of Coffeejitters.net, one of the Courage Night authors and speakers.**
It takes courage for a young woman to write about the personal impact of cancer, and more for the author to read those stories in public. Young Survival Coalition (YSC) designed an event to honor both kinds of courage, as well as that of all the young women who have faced this disease, and the strength of the loved ones who stand beside them.
In the ballroom of the Pan Pacific Seattle, May 15, the YSC event “Courage Night” brought together local authors who write about their experiences as young survivors of breast cancer to share their stories. The reception, reading, and Q&A session were followed by book and photo sales and signings, with the proceeds benefiting YSC. Reading their works were:
· Katherine Malmo – Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish and Demolition
· Kimberly H. Allison, M.D. - Red Sunshine: A story of strength and inspiration from a doctor who survived Stage 3 breast cancer
· Judy Schwartz Haley – CoffeeJitters.Net
· Cathy Nilon – Chemo Cat
· Debra Jarvis – It’s Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life & Cancer
Five stories, five personalities, five very different writing styles, united by not just by a disease, but a desire to share their stories and help others. This diagnosis impacts every aspect of life, including identity, body image, spirituality, mortality, career, marriage, dating, infertility, parenting, sexuality, just to name a few. It is so helpful to survivors to be able to connect with other young women with similar issues, to help each other along the way, and to not feel quite so alone.
Courage Night was an expression of YSC’s mission to help young women with breast cancer feel supported, empowered, and hopeful. Like YSC, the event was all about connections: young women connecting with others who truly understand their experiences, newly diagnosed women finding hope and a sisterhood of survivors, new friends, and old friends. The swanky venue lent an upscale feel to the event; tears, laughter, and the occasional martini added sparkle. Young women went home with cheeks aching from smiles and the understanding that they had found their tribe, the community that would get them through this cancer experience.
YSC is one of the organizations that benefits from the hard work and generosity of Get Hitched Give Hope. GHGH volunteers and wedding photographers Kat and Justin Speyer of Persimmon Images were on hand to photograph the event and provided these lovely images.