“Bon voyage” party puts positive spin on diagnosis of breast cancer.
While a diagnosis of breast cancer and an upcoming mastectomy would stymie many people, my sister, Margo Rosenthal, is not so easily thwarted.
Known for her often irreverent sense of humor and ability to put a positive spin on the most dismal situation, Margo decided to face the challenge with a “Boob Voyage” party.
She and her bosom buddy, Claudia Drilich, known for their fabulous holiday fetes, invited about 40 women to their West Bloomfield home on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 28, to provide friendship, good wishes and support. The only caveat was “no shivah faces” — Margo’s way of saying she wants people to talk openly about her situation, without whispering and tiptoeing around.
“It’s OK to say the word ‘cancer;’ it’s a reality, but it’s not a death sentence,” said Margo, who believes her years of practicing yoga have helped her maintain an attitude of non-attachment regarding the loss of her breast. “If that’s what it takes to save my life, it’s a no-brainer.”
The standard holiday celebration took a different twist with a festoon of hand-decorated brassieres and other adornments and a sumptuous spread of breast-themed goodies provided by their favorite caterer, JN columnist Annabel Cohen.
The buffet table included cupcakes topped with nipple-like frosting, mini chicken-breast kabobs and a variety of chalkboard signs with messages such as “Spread smiles, not cancer” and “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”
Margo explained the party was her way of putting a positive spin on a rather grim subject, but emphasized she was not making light of this serious disease. Claudia echoed these sentiments in a speech she gave to welcome the guests.
“Today is not because we are jumping up and down with joy,” Claudia said. “It is to support our most favorite girl, Margo, and to promote the positive side of a very serious and frightful interruption that can and has occurred in many of our lives.”
She urged all of the women present to take care of their breasts by scheduling mammograms and other necessary exams, especially because Jewish women of Ashkenazi descent have a higher rate of the genetic mutation (BRCA 1 and 2) known to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. While genetic testing showed that Margo does not carry the BRCA mutation, it appears in about one in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish women compared to about one in 400 women in the general population.
Many of the women who came to say “Boob Voyage” were breast cancer survivors, with varying histories ranging from several months to 28 years. Other guests had been touched by the disease through family members and friends.
“This is a celebration of life,” said Kay Tulupman of Bloomfield Hills, our aunt and a seven-year breast cancer survivor. “It’s a lovely event, and it shows how many people care about Margo. The truth is, 50 years ago, nobody would have gone near her.”
Cheryl Golding of Bloomfield Hills, a five-year survivor, talked about the importance of support to someone going through this experience.
“Beauty comes from within the person, not from the breast,” she said, “and Margo’s so upbeat and happy. She has so much positive energy.”
On the way out, guests helped themselves from a basket of “mamm-o-grahams,” edible souvenirs made of graham crackers and frosting in a breast motif.
“What a beautiful way to balance the serious message of cancer with the celebration of appreciating the moment amidst the love and support of our friends,” said Julie Silver of Royal Oak.
The guests agreed the event was a unique and optimistic approach to a difficult situation, including Judy Metzger, a friend from Farmington Hills, who loved the concept of the party and the souvenir mamm-o-graham.
“There’s nothing like a group of girlfriends to get you through a hard situation,” said Rochelle Adler of West Bloomfield.
By Ronelle Grier|Contributing Writer