Let's start at the beginning.
What is The Skin Cancer Foundation Gala?
The Gala is the Skin Cancer Foundation's largest annual fundraiser. During the event, organizations and individuals are awarded with Skin Sense Awards in recognition of their achievements in sun safety and skin cancer prevention.
Why is the Gala so important?
The funds raised from the Gala are what makes these incredible things possible: their website, Sun Safe U, and The Road to Healthy Skin Tour. These projects help raise awareness and prevention. To be blunt, The Foundation needs this event to make these events successful, and we need these events to help save lives!
OK, I hear you snoring. On to the fun details of the night...
A car picked us up from our hotel and took us to the side entrance of The Plaza Hotel to sneak in and make rehearsal time. I have never addressed a crowd larger than 20, so needless to say, I was quite thankful for a little practice!
A big thank you to these guys for letting me practice!
Just hanging out before going to cocktail hour!
The Plaza is very beautiful, don't you agree?!
Here I am with Mary Stine, The executive director of The Foundation.
She is incredible and fun!
This picture was first seen on The Associated Press!
I'm mixed in with celebrities like Brooke Shields,
Dylan Lawrence, Sam Champion, Jerry Penacoli,
Real Housewives Aviva Drescher and Alex McCord, etc.
Click here to view the other photos.
So thankful Mom was right next to me.
She's beautiful, I know.
The Real Housewife Alex McCord.
Sadly, I didn't get to talk to her last night,
but we did get to chit chat a little via Twitter today.
She knows the importance of sun safety!
Sam Champion of Good Morning America and Jerry Penacoli of EXTRA.
Both of these men have battled skin cancer.
Even the napkins in the bathrooms are beautiful...
The ballroom while everyone enjoyed cocktail hour.
The ballroom once everyone was seated.
Now, do you see why I was nervous?
Then I met this dude,
fellow stage III melanoma warrior,
Not only did he force me to eat some of my dinner,
he continued to encourage me throughout the entire night,
and he made me LAUGH!
He really is a nice fella,
and I'm grateful for his support, and the big hugs, last night!
*Click here to listen to Jerry's words after my speech.
Giving my speech. You can watch it here.
I also had the true pleasure of meeting fellow skin cancer warriors. I wish we had thought to take a picture together or exchanged information. Still, I will think of Suzanne as she continues on her clinical trial, and I will allow Richard, stage IV melanoma warrior, to challenge me
to live life to the fullest. Richard only had 6 months to live before he began a clinical trial. He has shown no evidence of disease for a year and a half. The audience was in tears.
I said this in my speech, but I need to say it again: I am so grateful to The Foundation for allowing me such a platform to raise awareness. My friend John reminded me yesterday that a
year and a half ago, I was a scared little girl, a little girl too scared to talk about her experience.
Last night I spoke to people like the beautiful celebrity chef Katie Lee, the inspiring Editor in Chief of SELF, Lucy Danziger, folks from the PGA Tour, and numerous doctors and folks in the medical field.
I helped put a face to melanoma.
I truly appreciate the response I received following my speech. One lady came up with tears in her eyes, insisted on hugging and kissing me. People stopped my on my way back to my seat to thank me. A skin cancer hero in his own right, Rick Fair, Vice President of Oral Oncolytics, Genentech, approached me and said he reads my blog! This list could go on and on. It motivated me to keep doing what I'm doing...getting the word out there!
It was a humbling experience.
It was a night I will never forget.
It was an experience of a lifetime.
Thank you, The Skin Cancer Foundation, for making it happen.
I will be forever grateful.
PS) I head in for CT scans tomorrow and treatment on Friday. Fingers crossed I will have good news to report on Friday. <3