The 2020 Celebrating Women Luncheon’s invite-only, virtual kick-off today sponsored by US Radiology Specialists and Touchstone Medical Imaging was a feast of information for the 200 committee members. Luncheon Chair Peggy Meyer led off announcing that the keynote speaker for the virtual luncheon on Wednesday, October 28, would be a ten-time Daytime Emmy® Award winner, cardiothoracic surgeon and advocate in the fight against breast cancer Dr. Mehmet Oz (aka Dr. Oz).
To “engage with a broader audience” and thanks to sponsors and donors, there would be no charge for attending the event. To emphasize Celebrating Women’s mission, “throughout the month of October (breast cancer awareness month) we will share inspiring patient videos and updates regarding innovative research initiatives.”
Peggy also revealed that despite stepping back from her duties with the Baylor Scott And White Dallas Foundation, Lindalyn Adams would continue to serve on the Celebrating Women advisory committee.
Next on the agenda was Underwriting Chair Jill Tananbaum who told of her own personal journey battling Triple-Positive breast cancer 15 years ago. Her story was both moving and unfortunately all too familiar to many of the committee members, who had shared the same experience. Luckily for Jill, her Baylor Scott And White Medical Oncologist Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy got the young mother of two enrolled in a clinical trial that literally saved her life.
Jill then introduced Joyce who told how she dedicated herself 40 years ago to cancer research when her ten-year-old baby sister died from leukemia despite going through clinical trials. One of the most incredible developments for Joyce has been seeing patients develop an immune response against the cancer. Addressing Jill, Joyce explained that the reason Jill’s treatment worked was because her “therapy harnessed her immune system against the breast cancer.” The challenge has been due to the cancer cells being hard to see. Joyce has been working on ways to make the cells “less resistant to therapy and more seen by the immune system.”
She is highly hopeful about the future. “It reminds me of what is going on globally in the fight against COVID. We’re seeing an unprecedented coming together of scientists, investigators, all industries all focused on eradicating COVID. It’s been wonderful to see that and I really think that’s what’s going on in triple-negative breast cancer and the aggressive form of HER+2 breast cancer.”
And like any perfect meal, the final speaker of the day was a marvelous dessert — Valorie Kondos Field (aka Miss Val). While it may have seemed a bit odd to have the retired head coach of the seven-time NCAA Champion, 22-time Regional and 18-time Pac 12 Champion UCLA Women’s Gymnastics Team as the day’s featured speaker, she literally knocked it out of the park.
Within a matter of minutes, she covered so many bases including her joining UCLA despite having no gymnastics experience, her being diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer in 2014, her changing her way of thinking due to having successful treatments available, her discovery that due to the COVID-19 isolation she and her husband/retired UCLA football coach Bobby Field are very compatible and how, like Jill, she was alive because of treatments that were only made possible 15 years ago.
Lucky were the 2020 Celebrating Women committee members who discovered a new best friend in Miss Val plus all the good news for the Baylor Scott And White Dallas Foundation.
BTW, if you want to get a breath of fresh hope during these days of challenges or know someone battling breast cancer, you might want to buy a copy of Miss Val’s book, “Life Is Short, Don’t Wait To Dance.”
* Photo provided by Baylor Scott And White Dallas Foundation