How Breast Cancer Awareness Month led to a Thankful November

21 11 2014

This post is part of a blog hop by the amazing women of Midlife Boulevard. A blog hop is when a group of bloggers write on the same topic. This month’s topic is What I’m Thankful For. You can find the link to the other blogs at the end of this story. 

I think of my life as a creative journey and I recently came upon an intersection that I had not foreseen. October was breast cancer awareness month. I’m keenly aware of this because it’s my job to help promote it. I work for a woman’s specialty hospital in marketing.

While working on an ad campaign for mammography, a lump was found during my annual mammogram. I’m also working on the Cancer Annual Report and this year’s focus is breast cancer. I became the patient I was creating ads for and a possible statistic in the technical report that I help to design. When I got a call after my mammogram from the head of Imaging, I knew that she wasn’t calling me about advertising.

This year’s Thanksgiving card. Woman’s is one of the largest OB hospitals in the country and is known locally as the Birthplace of Baton Rouge.

This year’s Thanksgiving card. Woman’s is one of the largest OB hospitals in the country and is known locally as the Birthplace of Baton Rouge.

November is a month when we give thanks. While designing Woman’s Thanksgiving card, I didn’t yet know that I would be so personally thankful for the organization I work for. From the beginning, I was told that there was a 90% chance the lump was benign. I listened to the experts and had the biopsy to prove that I wasn’t in the 10% category. Because of their kind and professional assurances, I knew that I was going to be OK. This is why you get those yearly mammograms, to stop cancer early.

The only thing I remember coming out of the fog of anesthesia was the direction to not do any housework and no heavy lifting. I also remember telling my nurse/friend that we needed to go out for bloody marys. I’m sticking with the no housework rule and still need to get that drink with my friend.

I’m fine, no cancer.

During this time, I worked on the ad campaign to tell the public about the new 3D mammography technology that Woman’s now has. Just as I was told to do no heavy lifting, the marketing team worked together and the creative effort was shared. No one had to do the heavy lifting alone. This campaign actually launched an explosion of creative energy within the team. This team has all been touched in some way by breast cancer and I’m not the only one in the group who has had a biopsy. There was a sincere enthusiasm on how best to tell the public about the new technology.

The creative approach we chose to use to explain 3D mammography is origami. Traditional mammograms give a 2D image, like a flat piece of paper. The 3D technology is dimensional. It is like the folded origami. We chose to use the crane as our model, this origami bird is also the symbol of good luck. The campaign launches during this month of Thanksgiving.

Below is the campaign the Marketing team created. If you want to learn about the new 3D technology, just click. 

Campaign billboard

outdoor blog

Campaign print ad

3Dad blog

Campaign web banner

3D_728x90

I say a daily prayer to be given the wisdom to see the gifts the universe sends me. I was given the gift of living Woman’s mission: to improve the health of women and infants. That mission includes my own health.

To all the women and men I work with day after day and to the community we serve, I am thankful.

Shout out to the marketing team: Lynne, Bridget, Margaret, Rachel, Laurel, Tracie, Brian, Amiee and Dana. And to my sweetie, Steve, who held my hand and took care of me during it all.

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Click here to read to the other stories in the blog hop.

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Large and Purple

1 06 2013

letter

When I was very young my Dad worked the night shift, midnight to eight, and started his TV fix-it business in the garage he built during the day. I’d bring my Barbies and play on the floor as he worked. When asked what my dad’s hobby was, I would say, “sleep”.

Connie&Dad B&W65

My Dad, Lloyd McLeod, would became a local character because of that business he started. I spent a lot of time at the shop. My mom would pick me up from school and we’d “go to work.” He became a bit of a local celebrity from the commercials he created and starred in. They were those classic “bad” commercials that every town has. A big guy, he did one that said, “I stand behind everything I sell…because if I stood in front of it, you couldn’t see it.” But people identified with this large man who talked to them from their tv’s in their living rooms. Strangers really did come up to us when we were out for dinner and ask for his autograph.

My Dad, Lloyd McLeod, shooting a tv commercial

My Dad, Lloyd McLeod, shooting a tv commercial

Purple Truck

The building that housed his business was known as “the large purple building.” The color came into being because when he had only one delivery truck, he let an ex-con paint it. He was very affordable and needed a job. It came back painted a wild purple color. But people soon started asking Dad if he had a fleet. A marketing accident that turned into a successful brand was born.

We were a tight family unit. My Dad was a ham and we thought the attention funny.  I may have spent a lot of time “at work”, but my dad was at every school event, birthday party and if I had to get a shot at the doctor, he was there to hold my hand. He loved for our home to be filled with my friends. I remember him playing dead at slumber parties as little girls squealed and jumped on him and tried to wake him up. And then the screams when we woke him up. We’d all laugh and giggle until we were out of breath.

My Dad was large, literally and symbolically. He loved to eat and drink and smoke his cigarettes. He had a big laugh and when he snored, it rattled the windowpanes. He loved people and nothing made him happier than when someone dropped by our house unexpectedly. I never had that teenage need to sneak out. My house was the place my friends came to at all hours. Because of his long years on the night shift, he was a catnapper. Odds were if you came by at midnight, he’d be up. The only rule was not to wake my mom. If she showed up in the doorway in her robe, it meant party over.

I can now see that he was groundbreaking as a brand in his time. As a teenager, however, when your parents are supposed to be invisible, having a Dad on TV was mortifying. When I was in high school, I would have him drop me off at the corner rather than be driven to the front door in one of his purple delivery vans.

My Dad left me a great legacy. I went into advertising because of those early lessons in branding. But more importantly is that I know what unconditional love is because of both my parents. Like Dad I believe in living life large. Dad and I both loved the movie Mame and her quote, “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are staving to death!” For me a perfect evening is a dinner party at my house; food, friends, freely flowing wine, the telling of our stories and lots of laughter.

I realize that I’ve unconsciously filled my house with purple. I was painting an accent wall in my home a very deep purple. I went to the paint store that was now housed in Dad’s old purple building. They kept trying to get the color right, but it took two hours of mixing and remixing to get the exact color I wanted. I felt his spirit was there beside me as I was getting purple paint in his old shop and he just wanted me to stay there in his old purple building for as long as possible.

Some people see butterflies when they feel a loved ones presence. I see purple. I am my Father’s daughter.

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Going Blond

26 03 2013


shoe

My mother advised me years ago “don’t go grey, go blond.” So when those grey beacons starting lighting up my dark hair, I remembered my Mom’s sage advice.

hair

At 84, Mom is frail and in a nursing home. She is living with her 89-year-old boyfriend. She says she has no intension of getting married, but she did make him buy her an engagement ring. She speaks her mind and can play an audience like a fine instrument with well-timed comments. She knows that if she talks about sex, drops the f-bomb or gives someone the middle finger that she’ll get a reaction. No one expects this from a sweet little old Southern Baptist lady with a walker. She’ll tell you she doesn’t smoke or drink, but she’ll tell you with a twinkle in her eye, “So I lie”.

Despite her occasional lie, she is my model on how to age. Whoever said, “Getting old is not for sissies,” was correct. I’ve learned by watching my mom how to pick yourself up when life knocks you down and to stand tall with grace and humor.

I was catching her up on her 22-year–old granddaughter. She asked me if she had a boyfriend. When I said no, she responded that maybe she should get a girlfriend. Apparently Dr. Phil has said this is perfectly okay. While it doesn’t matter to me if my daughter prefers men or women, the fact that it doesn’t matter to my mom either is something I take real pride in. I hope that as the decades pass and I get older that I stay as open to the changing world around me.

Not only have I inherited my mom’s sense of humor, I’ve also inherited her klutziness. My mom and I, as well as my daughter, all have issues with the ability to stay upright. My friends know I’m not known for my grace and my dancing has even been compared to Elaine’s from Seinfeld. Not that it has ever stopped me from dancing to my own beat.

From my female lineage, age is clearly showcased in heel height. Mom, much to her chagrin, is in orthopedic shoes these days. After a recent tumble, she cut her hand bad enough to get it sutured. She had the ER staff in stitches as she regaled them with stories of her love life in the nursing home. “Yes, those nursing aides come in all during the day and night trying to catch me and my fiancé doing it!”

My own acknowledgement of age also has to do with the lowering of my heel height. I gave away my high heels for my fortieth birthday, but by my fiftieth I was divorced and feeling sexy again, so I was back in shoes that made me about 4 inches taller. However, now that I’m half way through my fifties, I must recognize that I have a tendency to fall off those beautiful, sexy high heels. I was warned with my last purchase of an adorable pair of towering platforms that I was likely to take a fall. Sure enough, on my second outing, I found myself face down, spread eagle in a hot parking lot. And unlike a toddler with skinned knees, my knees and bones no longer heal fast. So along with going blond, I’ve now gone to flats.

As I grow older, I’ve stumbled upon a few things. I no longer care if people see me fall down, literally or symbolically. Most of my stumbles are funny and I’m the first to laugh at myself. And if I tumble too hard, I welcome the hands that pick me up again.

Neither my mom or I will ever be described as graceful, but I’ve learned from her to accept aging graciously with a wicked twinkle in my eye. I think I’ll keep those cute tall Spring shoes. My mom and I also like to repurpose things. I should be able to turn them into a flowerpot.

 





Wild Woman

24 11 2012

My mom dresses just like the Cosmo Girl.

Caution: contains explicit language; I’m quoting my mother.

At some points in my life…I sometimes…have been known to flash certain people. Not in public, mind you, but I have been known to flash my daughter as well as my sweetie. Not at the same time—that would be weird. So it just came to their awareness that they had both been recipients of this gift. Which led them to ask, “Why?” I replied, “ Well, it’s kinda like when Nana flips you off.” Both my daughter and sweetie were perplexed and said, “Nana has never flipped me off.” This led me to the realization that I need to start writing down my mother’s wild woman stories.

History
What makes Mom’s stories so wild to me is that I’ve watched her grow into her wildness. She’s gotten feisty in her senior years. At 84, she’s clear as a bell and can always read her audience and knows just how outrageous she can be. She’s got that sweet, little ole lady thing going for her; think a southern, genteel, frail, Betty White.

Dinner Conversation
We traveled to her Texas family roots for a holiday a few years back. The family adores each others stories and the more outrageous they are, the louder we laugh. We tell the same ones over and over and all talk at the same time. Mom’s brother is known to email the raunchiest of jokes to his daughters. We think we’re all hilarious. So as we gather round the table Mom tells everyone about her new boyfriend, Dick (that’s really his name) at the nursing home. She tells us one night she carried her boom box down to Dick’s room, very late, when everyone was asleep. She slips quietly into his room turns the sexy music on and she proceeds to do a strip tease for him. She then, picks up her boom box and goes back to her room. The next day, Dick tells her that he had the strangest dream. She never tells him it wasn’t a dream.

The Night Shift
Not long after this, Dick and Mom move into the same room. She tells us all that she can’t get any sleep. The night shift, she says, “keep coming in our room all night trying to catch us f*#king!”

The ER
Mom is frail and falls more often these days, which seriously concern me. She took a tumble recently that put her in the ER. Her hand needed stitching up. It was a bad cut, but it was a minor injury in the ER. While the staff was sewing her up, she engaged them in a friendly conversation. I’ve learned to be quiet when she’s on a roll. She was telling them about her “fiancé” Dick. She said, “I have no interest in getting married, but I did make him put a ring on my finger,” holding up her uninjured hand. She was rambling on about him and how he’s such a picky eater. The ER staff was listening politely. She then said, “So I asked him, what do you like to eat? You know what he said? He said he likes to eat pussy.” This comment had them in stitches.

My DNA
I realize I have this wild woman gene in me. My daughter has already witnessed her own future ‘cause she has it too. I guess it’s time to go flash someone.