Three women reached out to me recently, each with a different inquiry, but all with something in common – Breast Cancer. One woman, three days away from a double mastectomy. Another, decided on radical surgery because she has the BRCA gene. And yet another, recently diagnosed with breast cancer. We are all part of a club that we had no intention of becoming members of. Not one of us wanted to join or become lifetime members, but here we are.
I have a calling from deep inside of me to talk to every woman I can to let them know that membership to this club 100% sucks, but that time and perseverance will get each one of us through. I have learned that no doctor, website or cancer organization can prepare you for what a breast cancer diagnosis brings. No one prepares you for that first look in the mirror after surgery, or exactly what an expander in your body looks and feels like. Only personal experience, family, friendship and support can help guide a person through the cancer journey. My entire being feels compelled to let women battling cancer know they can do it…they WILL do it!
I tell every woman I am blessed to talk to, if you can survive the first year, you can do anything. My best advice after all the “cancer” talk is find your girl tribe and when you do, hang on for dear life! I think the tribe finds you, but however it happens, don’t question it. Go with it and enjoy every second. Your girl tribe are the people who will make you laugh when you want to cry, call at just the right time, have that “special” $15 bottle of wine (that only you drink), and will be there when it is time to look in the mirror.
I have been blessed with the same group of girlfriends since I was a child. No one knows more about me than my “Marple girls”. As we have grown up we have become sisters. In addition to this sisterhood, my tribe has grown and redefined over the last eighteen months. It is amazing how people rally around you when you need it most. How people show up when you do not ask for anything. During a pandemic, surgery, shutdowns, chemo and radiation, I found kindness in people I never knew existed. Flowers, ice cream (salted caramel), cheese, knitted blankets, books, cakes, and outdoor visits are all the things that helped pass the time.
Then came the video. I don’t remember when or where I saw it, but it has become the mantra for my tribe. The video features a sweet, older woman being interviewed during a snowstorm in Iowa. All she wanted was to be “fat and sassy” (her words, not mine)! During cancer and Covid, the mantra has been tweaked a bit for my tribe, and we are “all in” to be fun and sassy!
That is when the dream and the plans began for Girl House! We are never too old to want to spend more time with our girlfriends. The ultimate dream! The dilemma was how can make this dream a reality? Girl House has developed into a well thought out plan. We know the place – somewhere on the ocean. The how, when, and other fine details still need to be worked out. We know what we are going to eat and drink, who is invited, and what we will wear – the Amazon House Dress – clearly we won’t be dressing up!
When I was younger, I remember dreaming of having a baby girl so I could name her Woods. I dreamt of having a lavish, fairytale wedding. I thought for sure I was going to be a comedian after college. Ha! Who was I kidding? Later on, I knew I would be good at my job because I love a challenge, and I love to shop even more. I never liked cooking (I secretly despise it) and my family has been subjected to my efforts on a daily basis! I wanted to travel the world, and I have been to many places, but there are so many still to see. I have been dreaming of a pill that burns all the calories and one that smoothes all the wrinkles. Over the last 50+ years I have had many different dreams, some real and some silly, but one has been consistent since I was sixteen…the dream of having a place to go and just BE with my tribe, my besties, my die hard supporters…my girlfriends.
Girl House may seem like a silly idea to some but think about all the possibilities! Being able to go to a place with your tribe for a weekend each month, no phones, no computers, and no TV’s. Imagine the fun you could have just being YOU around people who want to know you, love you, accept every flaw you have, and celebrate every milestone with you. Women who celebrate each other rather than knock each other down. Girl House should be a movement. I wish everyone was lucky enough to dream about the possibility of such a place with a tribe to call their very own. Membership is always free at Girl House, and so are the smiles, love, support, laughter, hugs and memories!