I was invited last week to attend The Women's Leadership Forum 21st Annual National Issues Conference in Washington, D.C. The speakers included the president, first lady, vice president, Dr. Jill Biden and Hillary Clinton. Each of the aforementioned spoke from their perspective on what it takes to be a successful leader.
I know many of you of the opposite persuasion are feeling the hair rise on the back of your neck, but please, when I talk about leadership and leaders in the fight against women's cancers, this is a bipartisan issue. Anyone can get cancer.
Not all of those afflicted with disease choose to lead and make a difference for those who are suffering. What I learned is that leadership has nothing to do with dollars and titles. Motive, passion and spontaneity make a leader. Passion without purpose is hot air. Your motive has to be authentic and spontaneity means you can think on your feet, and make tough decisions on the spot. If you have these qualities, more than likely, people will see that they can trust you. Once they trust you, they will follow you and your cause.
I have been trying to reflect on my effectiveness as a leader, and my ability to have people trust that I know the best and smartest way to attack cancer. Waiting for, or even thinking there will ever be a cure, I believe is a waste of time.
The smartest and most successful approach is to put your money into women's cancer research. The development of new drugs that are non-toxic (unlike chemo) is where it’s at. Drugs that will turn cancer in to a chronic disease that we can live with and not die from.
So, am I a leader? Have I been able to get people to trust me, and to trust that I have studied and lived with cancer long enough to be able to lead our community to understand that their money needs to go to research?
I don't care to whom anyone donates their money, but if you're going to give, make sure it’s with intent and purpose. We all work hard, and in our work, we make decisions every day. We put thought into those decisions, so let’s start putting thought into where we are assigning our charitable donations. Don't write a check to get the monkey off your back, and make you feel you’ve done good. Put time into that decision, and make that money work for you, in your quest to find answers for living with cancer.
I've been living with incurable metastatic cancer for 13 years. I am alive because of drugs that have stopped the growth of the metastases in my liver. Notice “drugs” is plural. Cancer is smart. It eventually works its way around and continues to grow. The patient then moves to another drug, usually chemo, and the cycle continues on and on.
However, I have seen the horror of a woman on the last chemo available for her. If that chemo doesn't work, she dies. You can see that as a patient, we never want to get to the very last drug.
Thank you, all of you, who care enough to make a difference in my life and in the lives of all women with cancer.