Last May I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever ArtBra KC event in Kansas City. All of the models either had been or were still being treated for breast cancer, including my friend Pam Van Compernolle, who had metastatic breast cancer. It was a joyful experience. Pam was their first model and the face of ArtBra 2011.
This year’s event on May 4 was dedicated to Pam, who died on April 9. The program included “Warrior Princess,” a poem I wrote for her. Pam loved the poem, and I will always be grateful to the women of ArtBra KC for including it.
Everyone involved with ArtBra KC fell as hard for Pam as the rest of us did. On their Facebook page, they talked about how spunky she was and how much they loved her and will miss her. If you knew her, you’d know why. This picture of her modeling the Angel/Devil bra is pure Pam. She had the face of a beauty queen and the heart of a lion. She never once let cancer rob her of her joy and zest for life.
There’s so much more I want you to know about my friend, but it’s not time. For now, I want you to know that ArtBra KC is a role model for events the same way Pam is a role model for facing cancer with grace.
I’ve heard about women with metastatic breast cancer who’ve been discouraged from taking part in survivor events. I can’t begin to imagine how horrible and lonely that would feel. Metastatic cancer is already isolating enough. To be told you don’t qualify as a survivor is worse than being told you don’t belong; it’s being told you aren’t alive.
In contrast, the women of ArtBra KC welcomed Pam. They understand that metastatic breast cancer isn’t contagious.They also understand that until cancer claims them, women with metastatic cancer are here. They’re alive. They’re surviving.
Just like the rest of us.