Opening Ceremony and Key Note Address—Why I Wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy

April 30, 2009
Christina T. Loguidice

Geralyn Lucas, a very spunky breast cancer survivor, gave an amazing key note address that kept the audience engaged with her humor.

The opening ceremony started with a mariachi band followed by a progression of nurses, representing 18 countries. Shortly thereafter, numerous awards were given out, including one to our very own Editor-in-Chief, Lisa Schulmeister, RN, who received the ONS 2009 Distinguished Service Award. Other award recipients included:

Linda Sarna, RN, DNSc -- Distinguished Research Award for her work in Lung Cancer Survivorship

Rose Virani, RNC, BSN -- 2009 Parl Moore Making a Difference Award

Marcia Grant, RN, DNSc -- 2009 ONS Lifetime Achievement Award

Kevin W. Sowers -- Ellyn Bushkin Friend of the Foundation Award

Once all awards were presented, Geralyn Lucas, a very spunky breast cancer survivor, gave an amazing key note address that kept the audience engaged with her humor. Her address began with the following lyrics from a song written by Pink and India Arie that was dedicated to Melissa Ethridge during her cancer battle: "I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am a soul that lives within." She proceeded to discuss her battle with breast cancer at the tender age of 27 and the issues that many women face, including how will they remain feminine after loosing their breasts--the very representation of their femininity. She noted that she had never had the courage to wear red lipstick before, as she was always a "lip gloss girl," but decided to wear red lipstick to her mastectomy, viewing it like war paint, as she was going in to the OR to fight for her life and her future. It was also a sign of her feminity. She hoped that when the surgeon viewed her in the OR and her perfectly painted lips, that he would view her as a woman and may even recall his first girlfriend or first kiss. In fact, lipstick came to take on a whole new meaning to her. It was a sign of her courage and cancer was not going to rob her of her identity of being a woman. She decided that "living with risk was going to make me more risque."

Geralyn also discussed her love of oncology nurses, joking "I am married to a doctor, but I love nurses." She noted that her oncology nurse was the main reason she went to her treatments--her oncology nurse was her "angel." Although she claims she was the worst patient, she was treated with the utmost compassion during her treatment, and for that she said she is appreciative. In a way, she said that cancer is a gift, because it teaches you to "stop sweating the small stuff." She also encouraged all nurses to get mammograms, noting that nurses are often to busy being angels that they neglect themselves.

Her book, Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy can be found on amazon.com and through other vendors.