A courage that comes from within

Print This Page

First Posted: 10/6/2014

On the day before Geralyn Lucas was scheduled to have her right breast removed — to get rid of the cancer discovered just a few weeks earlier — she stepped into the taxi of a New York City cabbie who liked to flirt.

“You like to dance, Lady?” he asked. “Wow. I bet you look hot on the dance floor.”

As Lucas recounts in her book “Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy,” she decided to be honest. She told the cabbie about the cancer, the impending loss of her breast and after that, her hair.

To her surprise he pulled the cab over, “parked haphazardly, illegally even,” and got into the back seat with her. He kissed her hand, told her he had only one testicle after a bout with cancer and assured her he was fine now, three years after his treatment. “You will be, too.”

Family and friends, doctors and therapists had all tried to tell her she would get her life back. But it was this man who convinced her. “I am looking into the next few weeks of hell,” Lucas wrote, “and suddenly an angel with one ball has appeared to tell me that I can be whole with one boob.”

Lucas will share more of her story about being diagnosed 20 years ago at age 27 when she is celebrity guest speaker at the fourth annual It’s All About Me Pink Tea.

Set for 2:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, in the Grand Ballroom of the Woodlands Inn and Resort, Plains Township, the event will raise money for The Center for Cancer Wellness, Candy’s Place, where executive director Chris Ostrowski reports the number of patients in the breast-cancer program tripled over last year.

Anyone who reads “Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy” will see she encountered many “angels” who came along just when she needed their encouragement, ranging from a boss at ABC’s 20/20 who had been through cancer herself to a stripper at a men’s club to the young mother who showed Lucas her baby — proof it is possible to conceive a child after cancer treatments.

“Now I want to hold out my hand to other women,” Lucas said in a telephone interview. “To encourage them.”

Throughout her treatments, Lucas did things her way. She tried on wigs but opted to wear a cap —paired with short, attention-getting skirts. She considered getting an aureole tattooed to her reconstructed breast, but instead opted for a distinctive, off-center heart tattoo. “I couldn’t choose my wound,” she said. But she could make choices about the way it eventually looked.

It was also important to her to become a mother. Daughter Skye Meredith is 15 now — very interested in fashion, Lucas said, and in studying to become a surgeon. Son Hayden is a nationally ranked chess champion.

Her second book “Then Came Life” talks about being grateful — even if your daughter tells you you’re too fat to borrow her clothes; even when your son and his friends are having a contest in the car to see who can pass gas the loudest.

“I try not to sweat the small stuff,” Lucas aid. “I think every day is a gift.”

“When I see wrinkles and gray hairs and a muffin top, I remember I prayed to get old.”

As for the bright-red lipstick that has become her trademark, she wore that symbol of her inner courage into the operating room two decades ago and, more recently, to the 90-minute spin class where she was heading after an interview.

“I always dare myself to live up to my red lipstick,” she said. “What’s incredible is I feel now I need to wear red lipstick for other women.”