Saturday, October 24, 2009

Jubilation for Breast Cancer Survivor Stories

On Thursday, October 22, 2009, I was fortunate to participate in an event honoring breast cancer survivors. The event, Jubilation (Joy-Celebration), was held in the Radisson Hotel, Merrillville, IN, on a rain-drenched day.

But that didn't drench the spirits of participants.

Presented by the Barden Gary Foundation and the Friends of the Barden Gary Foundation, Jubilation was a huge success, thanks to the efforts of many dedicated personnel.

The basic concept behind the event was excellent: Breast cancer survivors and people who had not had breast cancer networked at the Radisson and at a local dinner destination.

The crowd was motivated by a kickoff speech by NBC's Dr. Sandy Goldberg, also a survivor, and the founder of A Silver Lining Foundation.

Then 10 stretch limousines each transported a group of 10 women to a restaurant for an intimate dinner and conversation. Each limousine went to a different restaurant, where a survivor would act as speaker and share her story, followed by a discussion among the group.

(I will say ours was the luckiest bunch of women, having Lionel Richie videos on the limo's TV screens on the way to the restaurant and a Jon Bon Jovi concert on the way back.)

In my group, I was the speaker and facilitator. After dinner, the limousine drove us back to the Radisson for more networking and a final candle-lighting ceremony honoring the survivors, followed by Dr. Goldberg's closing remarks.

What transpired during the event was simply magical, and I was fortunate enough to witness it. The limousines transported complete strangers to the restaurant and transported fast friends back to the Radisson.

For me, it was empowering to share my story and have validation from other women. There was one other survivor in our group, so she shared her story, as well. This was our chance to provide useful information about breast exams and medical self-advocacy to others.

What touched me was the ability to make a difference in people's lives. We were not just physically transported, but we were delivered to a higher plane -- that of friendship and comaraderie and community.

This event did what it set out to do: We shared stories and restored each other in the process, reminding me once again about the power of the human story to mend the heart.

Beth L. Gainer is a professional writer and has published numerous academic and magazine articles, as well as an essay on her breast cancer experience in the anthology Voices of Breast Cancer by LaChance Publishing. She writes about a potpourri of topics, including motherhood and her Chinese adoption experience at, and her cat Hemi blogs at Beth teaches writing and literature at Robert Morris University in the Chicago area. She has a guest posting on The World's Strongest Librarian at

She can be contacted at and



  1. What a great event! I'm glad someone sponsors that; wish they did something like it here.

  2. Yes, it was empowering for all who participated. Maybe there is something like that in your area.

  3. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  4. Sorry for the delayed response, Alena. Thank you so much for reading my blog. I really do appreciate your comment so much!!