By JOY SEWING Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle
Houston philanthropist Sue Smith lost her sister to breast cancer in 2000. Seven years later, she and her husband, Lester (a cancer survivor), donated $30 million for the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine as a way to support research, detection and treatment.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, opportunities for giving and raising awareness abound, whether you have a little or a lot. Fashion designers and retailers are among those joining the bandwagon, offering pink products from umbrellas to fine jewelry. A portion of each sale goes to designated breast cancer research, awareness or prevention programs.
“I think most people get strongly involved with a cause when they have been touched personally,” Sue Smith said. “My sister never gave up. I saw her time and time again find the strength to remain optimistic even during the darkest times.
“We have the privilege of knowing many survivors, and their stories of hope greatly inspire us to continue to find a cure. And the memory of those who lost that battle inspire us to work harder.”
Brenda Coffee of Boerne has her own way of helping. After 10 surgeries and eight rounds of chemotherapy, Coffee, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, is on a mission to help families cope with life after a breast-cancer diagnosis.
Now cancer free, Coffee last year launched a website, www.Breast CancerSisterhood.com, to help families deal with everything from helping children cope with a parent’s diagnosis to keeping a marriage intact. Her site now receives about 20,000 hits monthly and is among the most popular cancer blogs in the country. The San Antonio native also has written two books, The Breast Cancer Sisterhood and Husbands and Heroes (available on her site and amazon.com for $12.95).
Her advice to family members, especially spouses: “You won’t have to have all the answers. You just need to be there.”