Lisa & Ellen

Cancer’s Collateral Kindness

The military refers to collateral damage as the impact that occurs to more than just the initial target. Very often we hear about collateral damage resulting from the after effects of acts of nature like Hurricane Katrina.

Four years ago I experienced my own personal tsunami with the passing of my dear friend and Co-founder of Cancer Be Glammed, Ellen Weiss Kander —and the collateral damage was profound.

Ellen and I had been inseparable, driven by our desire to help other women diagnosed with cancer, be better prepared to cope with the devastating, body- altering, visible side effects of surgery and treatment. As a “style survivor” herself, Ellen understood firsthand the importance of being able to hold on to your dignity, self-esteem, and personal style.

Cancer Be Glammed was hatched over my kitchen table as I was recovering from breast cancer. Late nights ensued, meals went uncooked, and we were forced to learn how to use our computers for more than email. (Now that was challenging!)

Through it all, we forged a friendship—more like a family-ship if such a thing existed. We were part of each other’s lives on a daily basis as close friends, co-workers and our husbands, children, and dogs became extended family.

For the year that Ellen was critically ill, I kept my intense grief to myself. I did not want to lay it at her family’s door. When she died, the whole community wept, she had been such a gifted, giving and amazing person. And something else happened.

Friends started calling me concerned over how I was doing, business contacts called to express their sorrow over Ellen and to check on me, our Rabbi called to see how my family was holding up, and I received sympathy cards for my loss from family and friends.

I was blown away. Touched to my core. Overwhelmed by the kindness of people who understood what Ellen’s friendship meant to me and I was very grateful that they took the time to reach out and offer comfort and support.

This was also true when I was battling cancer. The compassion and generosity that people showed to me and my family was so touching, that it changed me. It is what I choose to remember when I look back on my days in the cancer world. If you ever wonder whether you should send that email, write that note, or make that call—do it! I promise you, it will be greatly appreciated.