1. A disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.

2. A phenomenon perceived to be evil or destructive and difficult to eradicate.

Beyond raging at the misfortune, what can be done for our friends and loved ones with cancer? One answer is raising money and channeling energy toward easing the pain of the illness for cancer victims. Rare is the individual unaffected by breast cancer, who does not know one or more women with breast cancer: mothers, daughters, aunts, nieces, cousins and friends.

Sisters Boutique holds its third annual “Crush” Breast Cancer Fundraiser on October 20, 2012, in Yountville. The gala takes place throughout the second floor of the Marketplace at 6525 Washington Street in Yountville. In support of women battling the disease, the public is invited to this gala event that puts fun into fundraising and shopping.

Yes, the event is named for the fall grape harvest and crush underway in the Napa Valley. No, it’s not called the “Crush” because women’s breasts are squeezed during breast cancer screening via mammograms.

The goal of the event is raising awareness and money in support of breast cancer patients in this area. Store owners Rayellen Jordan and daughters, Michelle, Jenn and Kim, along with business consultant Thomas Willows, started the event three years ago to honor a mutual friend. Sarah Kerwood Joseph was diagnosed at age 25 and fought breast cancer for ten years. “Sarah was our inspiration for this event, which we dedicate to all who fight the disease,” says Thomas.

The women’s and men’s fashion boutique will offer gift or swag bags with an array of special items and coupons for customers who purchase $250 or more of the boutique’s spectacular array of clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Attendees will be treated to trunk shows from unique jewelry and accessories vendors such as Vanna Valentine, Hairloom Blooms by Molly Guridi, April Martin Designs Earthy-Luxe Jewelry, Laurie McCray Designs, Unique One-of-a-Kind Jewels, and Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics.

Guests will enjoy appetizers, beverages and, best of all, the camaraderie of joining together with others who care about cancer patients. A silent auction will feature fabulous contributions from many Napa Valley businesses. For ten dollars a pop, visitors may poke a pin in a pink balloon and get a gift certificate to another local business.

Rayellen says, “We have so many people to thank. We appreciate everyone who listened to our ideas, gave their time, support, goods and hearts in an effort to raise funds for all those affected in one way or another by breast cancer.”

Monies raised will be donated to three charities: Caring Bridge, the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund and Guardians of the Ribbon Pink Heals/Napa Valley Chapter.

Caring Bridge is a social website that facilitates online connections among families and friends of persons suffering major illnesses.

The Breast Cancer Emergency Fund, based in San Francisco, offers financial assistance to women and men with breast cancer.

Jon Lovie founded the Napa Valley Chapter of Guardians of the Ribbon Pink Heals after his wife Jennie’s first anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. Lovie’s pink fire truck is the centerpiece of the Napa Valley Chapter. The restored truck, painted bright as bubblegum, is named Jennie Mae, for his wife. Lovie lends a helping hand to women with cancer through “Pink Fire Truck” fundraisers.

Friends and family of a woman with cancer organize these gatherings for a loved one and invite guests.  Lovie arrives in the pink truck. Typically these festive events are held in front of the person’s home but may be at another location. “I show up like eye candy,” says Lovie who sells tee shirts at these events. Funds raised go toward paying the patient’s medical bills or other needs such as groceries, rent and utilities.

“Whatever the patient needs most, with the exception of direct cash,” he says. Lovie’s time and the events themselves, he says, are not only about raising money.

“The most important part of this work,” says Lovie, “is showing up for the cancer patient. My core mission is being there, human to human, showing that we care.  Sometimes just being there to give a hug is all the person needs. Our events allow them just a few hours to take their mind off of the reality that they are battling cancer.”

“Letting the person know that I care, that people care. The women in our lives should come first.  Men should be there for our sisters, mothers, daughters.”  Lovie’s fundraising has allowed Pink Heals to provide six iPads to an area cancer center for use by patients during the long hours spent receiving chemotherapy treatments.

All of us are sisters and brothers in the fight against breast cancer. Just over four months ago, this writer’s sister, Kathleen Clayton, discovered a lump and sought medical treatment. On her second visit to the doctor, she learned she had breast cancer.

“I sat there in a paper cape when the doctor examined my swollen breast; the lump had doubled in size since the last time she saw me. The doctor told me the pathology reports showed a malignancy. She said, ‘Get dressed,’ and left the room.”

“The worst part for me was the initial diagnosis. It was the lowest point I reached. I raged silently; I walked around the lake by my home, sat on a tree stump and cried for a long time.”

“Later that day, my husband saw my tears and said, ‘They’re doing this to save your life and that’s very important to me.’ Those 13 words have kept me going with strength and dignity. I have someone who cares enough about me to really want me to live.”

Without question, the diagnosis is less difficult to bear when one has a loved one’s shoulder and friends for support. Support groups as well as individual volunteers can be important in creating a safe environment for patients to come to terms with their diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

Kathleen is currently undergoing chemotherapy; she finds the encouragement and kindness of friends and family helpful. “At the doctor’s request, two volunteers have called me, women who survived cancers that were similar to mine. The medical staff is caring. A volunteer brought me wigs to try on while I was getting chemo.”

“My friends and family members care and ask me how I’m doing. At first the phone didn’t stop ringing and I longed for some peace and quiet, but I knew that time would come. Now it seems I get two calls a day from just the right person, someone who I hoped to hear from.”

What can you do to help someone with cancer? Eleanor Roosevelt was famously remembered as someone who would rather “light a candle than curse the darkness.”

We can be shining lights by participating in events that help cancer patients. You’ll brighten someone else’s day and your own by visiting in the Sisters Crush Breast Cancer Fundraiser on October 20, 2012 in Yountville.

Kristine Mietzner lives in Benicia with her golden retriever Max. She serves on the board of Benicia Literary Arts and works as a field supervisor for the Touro University Graduate School of Education. Her work has appeared in the Contra Costa Times, the Benicia Herald, and the online travel magazine, Your Life is a Trip. Her previously published work is posted at  She can be reached at