Attack of the 50-Foot Women


Original theatrical poster by Reynold Brown.

A number of people have asked me why I started BreastCancerSisterhood.com. It began in my friend and family physician’s kitchen while I was still taking chemo. I’d already learned, the hard way, there were many things even the best cancer treatment facilities forget to tell their patients, plus there was little to no support for husbands and children. As a result, I wanted to give newly diagnosed breast cancer patients products like cuticle cream, eye drops, soft tooth brushes and skin cream that would enable them to get through chemo without the problems associated with treatment like painfully dry eyes and bleeding gums, or like my friend who died from a staph infection, not breast cancer, because she cut her cuticles during chemo. That evening in Doctor Jim Martin’s kitchen, we named my idea “Brenda’s Baskets.”

Just the thought of giving a basket of products to all the newly diagnosed women in San Antonio was overwhelming, not to mention prohibitively expensive, so I met with women who chaired successful nonprofits as well as some of the women who’d brought the Komen affiliate to San Antonio. After months of meetings I was told there were already too many nonprofits with auctions, galas, rides and runs, plus I’d be lucky if I netted 10% from such an event. I was told I’d spend all of my time begging for funding, leaving little time to accomplish my mission of empowering women and families with basic, yet often neglected life-saving information.

Discouraged, I decided to raise money and start a media company to produce online, television and print content for newly diagnosed patients, survivors, husbands/caregivers, children and teens and make them available to everyone over the Internet. I know what cancer families need: I’ve been the child of a parent who died of cancer; caregiver to a husband who died of cancer, and now, I am the cancer Survivor. In addition I am a journalist, a photographer, a filmmaker and a business woman. More than anything, however, I felt like God had opened a door with my name on it. This was what I was supposed to do. The Breast Cancer Sisterhood was my mission.

I took my revamped business plan to a man who’d been a Wall Street corporate raider and had made several fortunes buying companies, breaking them apart and selling them off in pieces. After I’d given him my elevator pitch—he had a short attention span—he looked at me like I’d just tracked dog poop into his office and said, “What’s wrong with you people? I’m sick and tired of hearing about breast cancer. I don’t care about breast cancer! I care about prostate cancer. What are you doing about prostate cancer?” I gave him my best game face,  swallowed what I really wanted to say and replied, “I have my hands full with breast cancer, but perhaps you’d like to do something about prostate cancer.”

The next man I talked to bellowed, “Breast cancer! There’s nothing sexy about breast cancer! I know 10 other men in this town worth over $100 million each, and they wouldn’t be interested either. We like to go out on the golf course and brag about our investments to our buddies. ‘Hey! Let me tell you about this great new high tech company. I got in on the ground floor.’ None of us want to say, ‘Let me tell you about this breast cancer company I invested in.’ Besides, we already give to Komen.” Unfortunately, these guys were the norm, not the exception.

That’s when the proverbial rubber met the road: I could wait until the stars and moon aligned themselves with the battered American economy, hopefully opening up more players, or I could do the BreastCancerSisterhood.com myself, and so I did.

I’m doing what I feel I’ve been called to do, and I’m doing it in the best way I know how. I hear from many of you, and I know you’re also doing what you’ve been called to do whether that’s loving one another, raising your children, loving God, blogging about breast cancer, looking for the cure, caring for patients or finding your way out of chemo brain.

Maybe I’m in a militant mood, but I think cancer needs to be attacked by the 50 Foot-Women. Fortunately there’s lots of women out there like Nancy Brinker and all the Komen affiliates and groups like the Mamma Jamma Ride in Austin, Texas. And let’s not forget Hollywood’s movers and shakers—Laura Ziskin, Sherry Lansing, Rusty Robertson and Sue Schwartz—who started the awesome StandUp2Cancer to bring the best cutting edge researchers together to find a cure for all types of cancers. September 10th, check out StandUp2Cancer’s second celebrity-packed, music telethon on ABC, NBC and CBS. These are truly women who are 50 feet tall!

So if you’ve got a pocket full of money, but you don’t think there’s anything sexy about breast cancer, I’m praying one of these powerful women picks you up, and like King Kong, holds you in the palm of her hand and shakes some of those reluctant dollars out of your pockets. Then tell me breast cancer’s not sexy!! I’m feeling kind of foxy just thinking about it.