Heidi Floyd is the Development Ambassador for the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, Vera Bradley’s philanthropic endeavor dedicated to funding The Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Below she shares her recent trip to Atlanta for a meeting of the American Cancer Society Grants Review Board, of which she is a member.
As a Vera Bradley employee – specifically the Development Ambassador for the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer – it is my honor and privilege to travel any and everywhere to speak at events and get sponsors for vital breast cancer research. While I don’t travel any more than the rest of the jet-setting professional fleet, my added perk is that the trek always leads to amazing, gentle people who just happen to have cancer, or love someone who does.
This past year, in addition to my usual Foundation endeavors, I was nominated to sit on the American Cancer Society Grants Review Board. When I lived in Chicago, I participated faithfully in their Walk and Roll event, but I never imagined I would one day be able to go to the ACS headquarters to meet and mingle with some of the most brilliant researchers and scientists of our time. As a breast cancer patient myself, it resonates deeply with me that the grants they process are on course to alter the impact of this disease, in all forms, on a national scale. It actually takes my breath away.
While on the road, I always take photos of things that I find interesting, typically footwear, architecture (specifically doors) and pieces of history. The ACS building is a golden nugget of a museum for those who enjoy science. Among its artifacts, a copy of an actual letter from Marie Curie – “There is much to be done in the field of research regarding cancer … I was much interested in the work you are doing and send my best wishes to your committee …” – which I just had to touch. I’m a geek like that. I can talk to you for hours about her work with radium.
After a long day of reviews and proposals, I settled into my hotel room for a chat with my babies. I get a detailed recap of the day from my eldest daughter, followed by constant giggles from the next youngest. The third is my reporter/CIA agent, who tells me all the misdeeds of siblings, father and dog whilst I’m away. If an incident escapes her memory in that moment, I get a written report. One time, it was a cryptic “Dad is guilty.” Turns out, he forgot to put frosting on her breakfast pastry, to which she requested a severe and harsh penalty. And my son, the youngest (I was pregnant with him when I went through chemo), almost never wants to talk on the phone. “Mario Kart is waiting, Mom. Please!”
Right before I left, I stopped and took a picture of a time capsule in the ACS building lobby. It says everything that we who fight this disease want, in just ten words. The caption reads, “TIME CAPSULE. To Be Opened When Our Task IS Done.” Simple perfection. It doesn’t mean more to me than any other patient, and I know that. But I have four little reasons at home that drive me to help open that canister. Soon.