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geralyn lucas’ courageous roar

lipstick manifesto

IT WAS AN ACT OF DEFIANCE AND HOPE. Geralyn Lucas took the tube of crimson pigment and beeswax out of her bag and applied it to her lips. Moments earlier, shivering in the fluorescent light of a hospital room, she pulled on a surgical smock and her eyes locked on the garment’s lettering: Property of Mt Sinai Hospital. It struck a nerve. “Oh no. I’m property of the hospital,” she thought. written by ashley grant AFTER MONTHS OF FEELING INVISIBLE,

that the cancer had taken over and she, aside from the malignancy, didn’t exist anymore, something inside her railed against the darkness. She wanted to be seen, wanted to live and she was not going to give in without a fight. She remembered the stories of prisoners marching to their deaths, displaying a defiant gesture to mock their situation. She chose lipstick. A bright red symbol of her determination to regain what had been lost and her lone weapon against a helpless situation. It gave her a brief sense of control. Maybe if her lipstick made it through this nightmare, she would too. “I want my lipstick to tell everyone in this room that I think I have a future and I know I will wear lipstick again but next time on my terms,” she remembers thinking. “But for now I have my war paint. I am ready.“ And when she woke up in the recovery room, her joy at the prospect of living to see another day was magnified by the triumph that the color was still there. Her lipstick had lasted and so would she. Prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 27, Lucas was riding a high wave of happiness and success. She developed a love for journalism as managing editor of her high school paper and pursued her passion through education at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. After graduation, she landed her dream job as an editorial producer at 20/20 developing original ideas for show segments. She would go on to work at Lifetime Networks, overseeing the critically acclaimed

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and award-winning biographies of stars including Beyoncé, Dame Elizabeth Taylor and former first lady Laura Bush, and then to the Public Affairs and Corporate Communications division, handling media and talent relations for award-winning campaigns including Stop Breast Cancer for Life, End Violence Against Women and Every Woman Counts. But none of that would have happened if she had not gotten the mammogram. Newly married, Lucas had gone to her doctor to talk about getting pregnant. She pointed out a lump in her breast. When the doctor ordered a scan, she was so busy at work she almost didn’t go. And when she did, the unthinkable happened. Diagnosed with a serious form of breast cancer, the terror of the disease and the indignities involved in testing left her with little sense of personal agency. She was poked, prodded and examined by multiple doctors as she explored her options. But aside from the clinical information available, there was little for her to lean on. As she puts it, no one would talk to her about “what it meant to have one boob in a boob-obsessed universe.” So Lucas sought out unorthodox routes to help her decide whether to have a mastectomy, researching available clinical options while exploring the psychosocial aspects of what it means to lose a breast. She went to a strip club—a “mammary Mecca” as she calls it—to try to understand why breasts seemed to matter so much to people, and reviewed post-mastectomy reconstruc-

4/22/19 6:03 PM

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SRQ Magazine | Love Local "She Roars" Special Edition  

Leading women share their stories in our inaugural "She Roars" magazine featuring the Women in Business Hear Me Roar Awards section. SRQ Mag...

SRQ Magazine | Love Local "She Roars" Special Edition  

Leading women share their stories in our inaugural "She Roars" magazine featuring the Women in Business Hear Me Roar Awards section. SRQ Mag...

Profile for srqme