The statistics are frightening: about 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in her life. As high as those numbers are, what’s even higher is how many people are forever devastated by it. Children who grow up without mothers. Husbands who lose their wives. Mothers, fathers, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and on and on. Because every woman is the head of some kind of village. And when she’s sick, or God forbid dies, everyone is forever changed.
I would not be who I am today if not for breast cancer. Anne Klein, my boss and mentor, had breast cancer. Not that I knew that when she was alive. It was an unspoken word. I knew she was sick, but had no idea how sick. It wasn’t until I was having my baby in the hospital – fully intending on being a stay-at-home mother - when I was told I had to come back to work because “Anne was very sick” and we had a collection due. I told them I couldn’t come back to work for a week, and they said they would bring work to me. Sure enough, the racks came rolling up the driveway of my home. Eleven days after I had my daughter Gabby, Anne died, and I went back to work. The rest, as they say, is history.
Breast cancer is so personal to all of us. In addition to Anne Klein, there are two other strong women who were dear friends I want to honor this month. They took their private struggles public to shed light and awareness on this terrible disease. Their fight lives on in all of us.
Lynn Kohlman | One of my best friends in life, Lynn was a woman of true style, one who created fashion just in her being. As a model, fashion stylist and photographer, she lived on both sides of the camera. She was also the Fashion Director of DKNY. Lynn inspired me professionally, creatively and personally. She was one of the strongest people I ever knew, as well as one of the most sensitive. Only a formidable spirit could embrace the darkness of her disease and find such beautiful light. Lynn’s book “Lynn, Front to Back” tells of her extraordinary journey. Read it and be inspired.
Evelyn Lauder | Evelyn brought heart and soul to everything she did. Kind and generous, she treated everyone in her life like they were family. I admired how she took a problem and created a solution. After having lived with breast cancer, she wanted to prevent others from enduring what she had, so she built an organization dedicated to research and awareness. As a woman with such global stature and grace, I loved how she balanced the personal, the professional and the philanthropic. Evelyn showed us it could all be done with enormous style and heart.