Reaching Out: Calendars, Companions, and Charity

Phyllis Johnson Health Guide
  • Do you have your 2010 calendar yet?  Check out the calendar designed by Deirdre D'Aulerio and photographed by Mary Britt that honors women with inflammatory breast cancer and the folks who support them.  Mary originally met Deirdre when she took some family portraits of Deirdre with her husband and baby.  Less than two years later, Deirdre asked Mary to take some more pictures of her with her son before she lost her hair to treatment for inflammatory breast cancer. 


    Mary explains how Deirdre approached her about the calendar.  "She and I had lunch one day in late 2005 and she told me about a calendar project she wanted to do to raise funds for IBC related causes.  She wanted to honor an IBC "warrior" on each month, and she wanted them to be photographed with some of the people who supported them during their treatments.  Her father had helped her come up with a name for the calendar - Images of Brave Companions.  It incorporated the initials (IBC) of this ugly disease, and made something warm and positive out of them."

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    While still in treatment, Deirdre found the models and wrote calendar copy, but as she became weaker, she was able to do less work on the calendar.  The day before Deirdre died in April of 2008, Mary promised Deirdre that she would finish the project.


    The calendar I ordered at shows the models topless but covered by objects.  April model Julie Bigoski and her sisters hold up a quilt made by a friend during Julie's treatment.  Julie died August 2nd, 2009, shortly before the calendar went to press and before her family's own bowling fundraiser.


    My friend Ginny Mason's bare shoulders peek out over pictures of her family for the November page.  Each page has information about the model and about IBC symptoms and treatments.  The back pages of the calendar offer tips for health and information about cancer resources like the IBC Research Foundation


    This calendar project is just one of the ways people in the cancer community reach beyond themselves to help others.  When cancer touches our lives, it is all too easy to withdraw into our own misery.  But reaching out helps us overcome our despair.  This December, cancer survivors everywhere are holding bake sales, wrapping gifts at the mall, and selling calendars to raise money for agencies that help women with breast cancer now and that do the research to prevent it in the future.


    If it's too late for you and your friends to plan a December fundraiser, think about the Martin Luther Kind birthday holiday.  That's a great time to give your time to help others.


    Four of the models died before the calendar could be completed.  They are leaving a legacy for others with their charity.  If you are in their situation, you can leave a legacy too. 


    If you are part of the fortunate vast majority of breast cancer patients who will live out your life expectancy because the generosity of others funded the research that saved your life, use your time, talents, and dollars to help your sisters and daughters.

Published On: December 19, 2009