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  • Writer's pictureZoe

Zoe's Story: With a Little Help from My Friends (Week 7)

On October 1 we launched The Pink Fight Club. The thought process behind this website was to bring awareness, raise funds for the ACS, and as a communication platform for those that want to be part of my cancer journey. It was no easy feat pulling this together in a mere week but somehow Melanie made it happen.

I was adamant I wanted to be involved in the process and present for events to help drive fundraising efforts for as long as I could be and so we decided to host an event on Sunday October 18, 2020. To honor my English roots, we settled on an afternoon tea party. I was not entirely certain that I would be able to attend, as I was expecting the call for surgery at any moment; we decided to proceed regardless.

We launched the tickets without having sponsors in place, but as a team of women who are known for making lemonade out of lemons, we believed we could pull off a memorable event in eight days! We launched the tickets sales at 5:30 pm Thursday and by 9:30am Friday morning we were sold out. The phones were ringing off the hook with people trying to buy tickets.

Boca Raton is filled with people ready to give; philanthropy is a civil responsibility in this town, and the event was filled with people ready to give.

We could have sold the tickets three times over. Since this was the first fundraising effort since the COVID-19 shutdown, we decided we wanted to keep the tea a smaller and more intimate soiree. This would ensure social distancing and allow for single family tables. We wanted an event that exuded elegance and delivered fun - but also kept people safe. The temptation to release more tickets was there, but our answer to this dilemma was to host another tea party event in November.

BUT first the boring stuff.

I had my final appointment prior to surgery with Dr. Eli Avisar. All the tests have resulted in no further cancer findings. I have Invasive Lobular Carcinoma in my breasts and Metastatic Lobular Carcinoma in multiple lymph nodes. My cancer is ER and PR positive but HER2 negative. Final pathology will not be made until after my surgery, but they believe I am stage 3B.

Chemotherapy will not be successful prior to surgery and so I am scheduled for surgery on Monday November 2. I am scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy (modified radical) including axillary lymph nodes. Intraoperative location of sentinel lymph nodes and lymphangiotomy on lymphatic channels. Full reconstruction if surgery goes as planned and finally an insertion of tunneled centrally inserted central venous access device with subcutaneous port.

It will be a very long day and once I am in the recovery room and the nurse will give me the button to push when I need a hefty dose of morphine for the pain. I intend to double dose my way through the 3-5 days I am scheduled to be in hospital. Prior to surgery, he scheduled some additional pre-operative tests (blood work, EKG and another chest x-ray). These tests are scheduled for next week. As I have had every test conceivable to mankind in the last seven weeks, I am confident there will be no delays in my surgery.

I would be lying if I said I am not worried; in fact, I am terrified. Going into any major surgery comes with risks and reading the exhaustive list of procedures that lay ahead of me is daunting. I just keep trying to think about the silver linings - in Helene’s words, ‘perky new ones' and more importantly doing some good with this unexpected and unwanted diagnosis.

The pandemic that took hold globally in March has impacted us all profoundly. I have been impacted on so many levels both professionally and personally but everyday I am reminded how lucky I am. COVID-19 has literally stopped treatment for some cancer sufferers. In a normal year, the American Cancer Society brings in $700 million for cancer research. This year, the organization is facing a $200 million deficit. That means treatments, clinical trials, grants, and patient services are crippled.

In-person events are the driver behind American Cancer Society funding, but because of the pandemic those events had to be canceled. The Addison has seen nearly 400 events cancelled or postponed; many of these events are weddings, but many are fundraising events. If funding does not pick up soon, an entire generation of progress could be lost, and with it, the potential for a cure. We decided to host our tea party safely to raise some urgently needed funds.

It turns out, we did not need to call sponsors; they called us.

The offers of partnership were overwhelming. Allison, who I believe has a mind-reading device implanted in my brain (she seems to know my every thought) worked with Felix the owner of Different Look to create the table scape. Benny, my friend of 15-years and owner of Daniel Events, designed and personally made the most spectacular table centerpieces and room décor - punctuated with delicious Cristino Chocolates. Guests were greeted into the Addison’s majestic courtyard with butler passed rosé champagne provided by Bodvár- House of Rosés . Hors d ‘oeuvres were served under the banyan trees and the predicted rain stayed well away. Todd from Celebrity Entertainment provided the violinist which was the perfect touch for an elegant afternoon tea party. My beautiful sister Cassie made me a photo backdrop covered in pink roses and the breast cancer ribbon which the talented Munoz Photography team used as a backdrop for guest photos. The guests arrived in attire perfect for Royal Ascot and hats were a plenty.

We enjoyed afternoon tea prepared by our Executive Chef Patrick Duffy, sponsored by Mr. Greens Produce. It was not a traditional afternoon tea. Pre-COVID a 3-tier stand would be placed on the table, laden with mini tea sandwiches, delectable desserts, scones, jam, and clotted cream for all to share. COVID-19 has taken that tradition away from us, but the Addison’s team is resourceful and managed to deliver an elegant afternoon tea despite COVID-19 restrictions. We served a beautiful 3-course plated menu featuring all the afternoon tea must haves. Laughter and love were a plenty and as the rosé and tea were consumed in abundance, laughter grew louder. Donations were made, raffle tickets were sold and by the end of the day our donation page was at $15,000.

Everyday this week I have received more love and encouragement, but Sunday brought me such an abundance of joy, so overwhelming, I had to retouch my makeup multiple times.

There will never be enough thanks nor any words that could do the day justice but my dear friends Chad and Sarri happen to own Timeline Video. They always manage to produce mini movies that perfectly capture the magic of every event they film. The video they donated will perfectly share the magic of the day. Enjoy.

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