Monday, May 23, 2011

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation gala

What a night - my mom, who is wearing red in the photo above and is also a breast cancer survivor, met me in NYC, Fox's David Lee Miller came straight from the airport after 7 weeks in Libya and joined his wife Meryl Waitz, Mike Tobin - my wingman from Jerusalem flew in from Chicago, Geraldo and his wife Erica chaired the event and rallied my Fox family to donate to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation and the groundbreaking research they are doing for all of us, Bill O'Reilly gave $10,000, Sean Hannity another $10,000, Erica and Geraldo $22,500, Fox's Harris Faulkner attended along with Arthel Neville, Kathleen Foster, NY producer who fearlessly travelled with me to Iraq during the start of the Iraq surge, Jamie Colby, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade bought tickets and supported our evening, Andrew Psarianos - my cameraman during a lot of rough West Bank shoots - came all the way from London and was still aglow from getting a little too close to the reactor in Japan. (I told him I had had enough radiation for a lifetime but he came anyway!) Andrew may soon be on a telly near you - look for him in his walk-on roll in CSI, an auction item that this heavily accented Aussie bid on and won. Hollywood (just back from North Korea) and his wife Nina were there. College roomie Anna Chapman helped more than I could have ever imagined. As did Chloe Breyer. Michele Jaffe and Jen Sturman from Harvard days surprised me and nearly gave me a heart attack when I saw them after nearly 20 years of not. And then my dear friend Eliza Finkelstein sent two friends as her facsimile since she couldn't be there from San Francisco: Joanne and Julie, both cancer survivors themselves and friends I hadn't spent much time with since we were 18 years old. The event was held at the gorgeous home of Allison and John Paul Di Staulo in Cresskill, NJ.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house at the end of the evening. The TNBC Foundation was started by a group of friends in Bergen County who wanted to do something when their friend Nancy Block-Zenna, another young mother, died of Triple Negative a few years ago. This was the speech I gave:

Thanks, Geraldo. I can’t tell you how touched I am that you and Erica so generously offered to co-host this evening. The support from my Fox Family and friends is overwhelming. I first met Geraldo during the Intifada in Jerusalem. My eldest daughter was 6 months old and a suicide bomber had just gone off down the street at the Moment Cafe - (Greg and I document this in the book we’ve just written about those crazy times in Jerusalem).
Needless to say that moment changed a lot of lives - that’s when I was still covering other people’s wars. When I first met Geraldo Annalise was the same age that Luke was when I found my 8 centimeter tumor in my right breast. I was diagnosed on Sept 28, 2009. A little over a year ago I was completely bald - and only now can I pull out my open-toed sandals because my toenails had fallen off from 17 rounds of chemo. In fact I was so psyched that I could show off my new toenails that I went to DSW and bought 9 pairs of shoes. In fact that is where I was when Bin Laden was killed. (So years from now when people ask: Where were you when Bin Laden was killed? DSW) I’ll never forget where I was later that night, however, when news of the raid was starting to leak out: I called in to confirm that he was dead and who was on the air but Geraldo.

My life and all of our years chasing Bin Laden had come full circle. This was ironic and wonderful on so many levels. When I was first getting my chemo I was told by people that I should visualize the chemo breaking up the tumors, dissipating the rogue cells. I was told to visualize butterflies or Pac Men. I chose Navy SEALs - I just didn’t know it was SEAL team 6 - I told people I visualized the chemo breaking up Al Qaeda sleeper cells that had taken over my body.

Well a year ago - I learned that chemo and those Navy SEALS had done their job. I had started off Stage 3 - I was now cancer free.

And now that Bin Laden is dead. I feel like I can put to end this terrible chapter of my life.

Arlene, Hayley, what you did for your friend Nancy is what my friends did for me - they rallied the troops - we put on our body armor and we went to war. Sometimes we lose some of our battle buddies along the way. But the reason we keep fighting is for them. We don’t leave our battle buddies on the battlefield and we NEVER forget.

We may not have a tamoxifen or herceptin for those of us who have been diagnosed with Triple Negative - but we will. Until then exercise and a really low fat, non-processed diet is our tamoxifen and herceptin. Dr. Lisa Carey can tell you how that along with a lot of chemo can turn off that oncogene and ensure that we all are given a chance to fight another day.

If you want to donate to help find a cure: