Here’s a sobering thought: one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Take a look around you at the next meeting you attend. If there at least eight women in the room then one of you sitting around the conference table may develop this disease.
Fighting breast cancer is personal for me—my mother-in-law succumbed to the disease in 1993. A lot has changed since that time; a breast cancer diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it once seemed to be.
But still, it’s a scary thing.
And it’s especially difficult to know what to say to a colleague who is battling any form of cancer and still attempting to maintain some sense of normalcy at work.
It’s tough to know what to say when they return to work amidst their treatments: Should I ask how he’s feeling? How can I avoid staring at her lack of eyebrows, now that’s she’s lost her hair?
I remember one colleague who gallantly made her way through chemo treatments with a flair I don’t possess even when fully healthy. Early during her treatments, my co-worker wore a fashionable wig or jaunty hats that disguised her thinning hair. Eventually the wig wouldn’t stay on her increasingly smooth head. One day, while driving from one company building to the next, she exclaimed “Screw it!”, threw the wig into the back seat of her car and boldly strode into her meeting proudly wearing that most visible emblem of a cancer warrior: a bald head.
Her story has a happy ending: nearly 10 years later, my colleague enjoys a meaningful professional life as well as a wonderful family life with her husband and three kids. She joins the more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. That’s a good thing.
No doubt, you most likely also know stories with not-so-happy endings. Cancer takes far too many of our loved ones and business colleagues each year. Breast cancer alone will rob us of 40,000 women in 2014.
That’s why I’m proud to team up with the Lee jeans brand for the Lee National Denim Day ®, which kicks off October 3, 2014. Denim Day is a national fundraiser in which individuals or teams participate by donating $5 or more in exchange for wearing jeans to work for the day.
The beneficiary for Lee National Denim Day is the American Cancer Society, the largest voluntary nonprofit health organization in the United States. You can join a team, donate or create your own team by registering here.
And, for People Equation readers in the Human Resources arena, fear not: Lee has provided some excellent dress code tips for how to style your denim at work. (click this link to download a PDF.)
Back in 1996 when National Denim Day launched it was a big deal to be able to wear jeans to work. These days, I know that many people wear jeans (and far more casual attire, much to the chagrin of HR professionals everywhere) to work. So, even if wearing jeans to work is not the perk it used to be, please consider participating anyway. The American Cancer Society says it best:
Ending breast cancer is our overall goal, but our greatest immediate impact lies in helping those living with breast cancer – making everyday life better for those with the disease. From research, to treatments, to programs such as lodging for patients and caregivers, your Denim Day teams help women rise above breast cancer
No matter what your experience with cancer, you can make a difference.
Will you join me?
Disclosure: As an independent blogger, I am partnering with Lee jeans to raise awareness for Lee National Denim Day. In exchange for writing this post, I received a free pair of Lee jeans. I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own.