Tickled Pink founder Jodi Fyfe on how she’s pushing for breast cancer prevention
By JODI FYFE February 24, 2014 10:16AM
Jodi Fyfe (center, in blue) with guests at last year’s Tickled Pink event | Photo by Andre LaCour
Updated: March 4, 2014 4:33PM
From the moment I was born, my cousin Carrie was my constant companion — we were completely joined at the hip. As we grew through our teenage years and into our 20s, we went shopping every Saturday and made regular trips to visit each other at college or home in Chicago. Carrie was the life of the party, always upbeat and positive. She was the glue for our family and friends, and would arrange regular get-togethers and outings. She was unbelievable at everything she did; it was impossible to not be positively impacted by the love she radiated.
In our late 20s, all seemed right. We were growing up and entering new chapters of our lives. And then the worst happened: On her honeymoon, Carrie found a small lump and, upon returning home, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 28 years young. As a newlywed, you’re supposed to be looking forward to being with your spouse, starting a family. Instead, Carrie spent that first year going through chemotherapy. And at the still-young age of 35, Carrie was gone. Breast cancer had won.
During those last few weeks with Carrie, we focused on spending time with each other. She was noticeably weaker but still had a smile on her face. Since the two of us had always been sidekicks, it was me she asked to make sure that her life was celebrated, not mourned, after her passing. One week later, her memorial service was held. While it was emotional and sad, her request was met, and hundreds of her family and friends shared stories, laughed and remembered Carrie with joy.
As the one-year anniversary of her death approached in February 2005, it was important to me that her memory lived on. So we held our first Tickled Pink event. Seven hundred guests gathered at a venue called Kaleidoscope, and we raised almost $100,000 benefitting breast cancer research and prevention. We’ve since held the event annually in February for nine years, raising more than $1 million in that time. For the last few years, the money has benefitted Bright Pink, an organization that provides education to young women about preventative measures for breast and ovarian cancer. Having a daughter myself, and a family and a company filled with women, I’ve considered it really important to make sure that everyone understands their bodies and knows how to take care of themselves. With Bright Pink, we’re precluding instead of reacting.
Directly after this year’s fundraiser, we’ll begin a year of Tickled Pink events around the city that lead up to our 10th annual Tickled Pink in 2015. Remembering Carrie and all the love she gave to me and to others is important. But with Tickled Pink, I’m also hoping to prevent even one woman from going through the same thing that Carrie had to go through.
The Ninth Annual Tickled Pink will be held Friday, Feb. 28, at Block 37 (108 N. State). To learn more about the event or to purchase tickets, visit Tickledpinkchicago.com.