One True Step
This song was inspired by witnessing a dear friend go through breast cancer.
a song and a cause ~ finding a cure for breast cancer
One of my dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. Through her, I witnessed the incredibly challenging experience people endure during diagnosis, treatment and healing. Yet, it wasn’t until seven years later when I saw a neighbor I didn’t know very well out for a walk that I wrote this song. I had heard from mutual friends that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. When I saw the pink scarf on her head and her weary gait, the lyrics came tumbling out.
I recruited a choir of voices to help me record the song because I couldn’t think of any more fitting way to reflect what I believe: that even in the most difficult times, we are each surrounded by more love than we can imagine. Among the voices on the choruses, there are two women who have been through breast cancer and a number who’ve had family members or close friends diagnosed.
For the video of the song, I sent out a call to friends who’d been through the disease and asked if they’d be willing to contribute photographs of themselves at any point in the process they were comfortable sharing, from the early days of diagnosis and treatment to the years long after the disease was gone. My request was forwarded from friend to friend and beyond. I received emails and letters from women I’d never even met, all of whom shared their photographs and stories in hopes that they could offer comfort to others facing the disease.
My friend through whom I first witnessed the impact of this disease at close-hand was successful in treating her 2002 cancer. However, in 2011 she was diagnosed with a different type of breast cancer in her remaining breast and her diagnosis was terminal. She told me then that she no longer saw her situation as a journey or a battle. Instead, she managed the disease as effectively as current treatments would allow and then determined to live her life as fully as possible for as long as possible. She lived with enormous gratitude for the gifts she had in her life, chief among which were her family and friends, and was able to find laughter and hope even through her final days. She died in 2012 at the age of 48.
Now more than a song to me, “one true step” has become my personal catch phrase for times when I need to navigate something more challenging than I think I have the capacity to handle. And beyond its personal meaning, it has become my mantra for helping in any way I can to support people going through the disease as well as to support research for a cure.
My breast cancer research fund of choice is The Elizabeth Alling Sewall Endowment for Breast Cancer Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Elizabeth was known for her unshakable honesty, immense integrity, high-octane energy, and ability to connect people quickly and easily in a sense of shared community. Named in memory of my dear friend, the fund is a tangible, living legacy of her spirit.
Elizabeth’s family has chosen the Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride, held annually each August in the Boston area, as the event around which to organize their fundraising efforts for her endowment. If you’d like to contribute directly to their efforts, you can visit their Team Elizabeth page. Every dollar raised by Team Elizabeth goes directly to the endowment for research at Dana-Farber.