Author shares cancer survival story


    Standing poised in a black suit jacket with black, square glasses and jet-black hair, the author of “Why I Wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy,” shared Tuesday why she feels every moment in her life is lipstick-worthy.Author Geralyn Lucas, 36, who found a lump in her breast while doing a self-breast exam in the shower when she was 27, was the featured guest speaker at the monthly Pink Bag Luncheon in the Kelly Alumni Center. The event, sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center, was this year’s last in a series of lunches where guest authors are brought in to talk about women’s health issues, according to Helen Psencik, a breast cancer survivor and guest at the event.

    The author said she wore lipstick to her mastectomy to maintain her femininity while she underwent the process of losing one breast and later, all of her hair.

    “It’s amazing how many places I’ve worn my lipstick,” Lucas said while reading from her book. “Places I’d never dreamed I’d be when I was getting my mastectomy.”

    Lucas went on to explain that she was wearing her lipstick at the White House when she met President George W. Bush, at her brother’s wedding, at both her parents birthdays and when she smeared it all over her husband’s face when she kissed him on the couple’s 10th anniversary.

    Marcy Paul, program coordinator for student development services and representative for the Women’s Resource Center, said Lucas was different than the luncheon’s usual speakers.

    “This is a special one,” Paul said. “We bring in local authors but she came in all the way from New York City.”

    While Lucas shared several colorful anecdotes of ways her book has touched lives, she kept much of the focus on people who have inspired her.

    “I want to be one of those hunched over, old, old ladies, who still wears bright-red lipstick,” Lucas said. “They are all over the streets of New York and I think they are the most amazing women. I never understood it, and I salute them because seeing those red lips gives me chills.”

    Lucas, who spoke to a large crowd of mostly women, made sure to acknowledge the two men who were present.

    “I always tell men when they come to breast cancer events that they are so sexy,” Lucas said. “There’s nothing more attractive than seeing a man be so sensitive and so supportive of women.”

    Kathryn Rosenthal, scholarship coordinator for donor relations and special projects, said she was inspired by Lucas’ message of reinventing oneself after a crisis.

    “She touched everyone in the room with her candid and heartfelt comments,” Rosenthal said.

    Lucas, who works in public affairs and programming at Lifetime Television in New York City, has appeared on talk shows such as “The View” since releasing her best-selling book. Her story was recently made into a Lifetime movie.

    The movie, which has the same title as the book, premiered Oct. 23, but Lucas said the network has plans to re-air it. She also said Lifetime is thinking of releasing it on DVD during the Christmas season because of its inspirational message.

    Lucas said it was somewhat daunting to have her life made into a movie, but she said she was humored by the cast that portrayed her and her family.

    “It was a strange experience,” Lucas said. “I was played by a tall blonde.”

    Lucas said she has triumphed over the cancer by talking openly about her experience and maintaining a positive attitude.

    “If I’ve helped one woman from my book, then I’ve accomplished my goal,” Lucas said.