Mirror Ball 2011

Last Sunday morning about 8.00 am, I woke up totally buzzing with Mirror Ball, and I was like, “Catherine, you’ve got to write about this, now.” But then another part of me couldn’t even see straight since I’d stayed up till 2.00 am the night before, and Zsolt was beside me in bed still 100% asleep. I’ve tried before to type my thoughts out while he sleeps . . . but it causes him to wake up grumpy.  This is a shame since there’s no better time to write than when inspiration hits, but the thought of click-clacking too early and his reaction was enough to make me say, “Catherine, wait a little bit.”

Therefore I am today, Wednesday afternoon, at Starbucks. Not the local library, not the basement of my parent’s house, not Tim Hortons (for sure not  – that place is crazy)  . . . but Starbucks, with my green tea and laptop out. I feel very productive and stimulated (thanks to the jazzy Christmas music in the background) and ready to recount the weekend.

Okay, for anyone who doesn’t know – because if you don’t work in the Canadian Cosmetics, Fashion, Media industries, or live in Toronto, (or read any of Sherry Abbott’s or @cancer2gether’s tweets), why would you know? I never knew until told . . . Anyhow, for those of you who don’t know, the Mirror Ball was originally named the Look Good Feel Better Ball, but was recently rebranded to incorporate Facing Cancer Together. 🙂  This is a gala that raises funds for women with cancer. And wow, they raise funds in a big, big way.

So the party started around 5.30pm, though I didn’t roll in till 6.00pm (and Zsolt about 6.30pm, I left him upstairs in the hotel while Chantal took us around and showed us (i.e. Katie, Terri and me), where we’d be standing during our testimonials).  The event was held at the Royal York in Toronto, which has a fascinating history tied into the Fairmont chain and being connected to the wonderful Canadian Pacific Railway. When I see a Fairmount in Canada, I think about the history and roots of our country – the formation of not just colonies but a country, you know? People had a big vision when they began to unite Canada – and I admire big ideas (with positive results).  Anyhow, our history isn’t all puppies, kittens and choo-choo trains, but nevertheless visiting a Fairmount fills me with the fuzzies. So that was cool. Though I still wish they had free wifi.

After the technical bits of seeing where we’d talk, Zsolt and I grabbed our silent auction machines (handheld devices for bidding and donation making) and began to walk around the hall. Amongst the donated products (decanters, hammocks, paintings, Canada Goose outfits, wines, holiday packages, laptop chargers) a vaudeville theme was happening. Flappers seemed to be everywhere, and then there were the mimes (Scary? A little), contortionists, and so on. Mixed in with waiters serving drinks and savoury treats, Zsolt and I had quite a good time walking around seeing how much people bid on various items.

Oh yeah – quick aside, Zsolt wore his beautiful charcoal suit originally purchased for our wedding, and I wore this strapless black dress originally purchased for a PWC Christmas party (like 6 years ago). Going strapless with a prosthesis is slightly tricky and involved several safety pins strategically placed, but I think I pulled it off. And I wore heels, but barely . . . with the help of Zsolt’s arm and a decision to ‘walk very slowly, all the time, no matter what’ I wore heels. My mom knit my shall, and it received several compliments.

And alongside this lovely silent auction and party was the Twitterball. Did you catch that, by any chance? I was assaulted with a Ipad to give a ‘hi & hello’ to the Twitterball participants, so hopefully pulled that off okay. You know I would have loved to have gotten in on the tweeting, but have no means of social media’ing’ when away from the laptop. That will soon be corrected, but I need to wait till Christmas.  My parents were at home following along and trying to stream the event. It’s just amazing what technology is doing nowadays. My brother’s graduation had the same thing: round the world live-streaming.  So everyone can join the party. 🙂

This post is so long. But the night didn’t end here! I’ve got to keep writing! And you are invited to continue reading.

After the auction and milling and meetings (I finally meet the lovely and charming Both Sides, aka Dr Alexandra Ginty. She is so full of life & verve. AND I met Chantal, the community coordinator for Facing Cancer Together and my regular e-mail correspondent – she is as lovely in person as she is in the forums. It’s so wonderful to actually meet the women behind the writing, you know?), it was time to eat dinner in the dining room . . .

Oh boy. So we walk into the dining room and it’s all dim, and black velvet and sparkly. The walls around this giant room have equally giant screens showing the progress of the silent auction, the stage is by the far wall, and the tables are set with more wine glasses, plates and cutlery than I’ve ever seen on a table. We had the honour of sitting with fellow blogger Terri from a Fresh Chapter, Terri’s friend – who I loved talking with across the night, Chantal, some young women who had been involved in the LGFB program (and looked stunning!) and several photographers for the event.  It was so fascinating to speak with Korby and Jodi about photography. Korby Banner has this whole philosophy on how to bring out beauty with his makeup application and photography. I always find it inspiring to speak with someone who clearly adores their work – but even more so, throws themselves into it with the idea of becoming the best. That’s a good way to do things, no?

Anyhow, we were having a great time at our table. And then the soup arrived.

That’s when my heart basically exploded.

You see, Katie, Terri and I were giving one minute talk/testimonials that evening, which meant getting up in front of that giant crowd of professionals and baring a few scars. (Though not literally, because I’d worked really hard to get that strapless dress to stay in place.) To me, this felt rather different than my presentation in Orillia. In Orillia, they were nurses and who doesn’t feel comfortable around a kind-hearted, albeit overworked, nurse? Last Saturday night had ‘industry people’  . . . hmm, I didn’t know what to make of that.

My heart pounded.

So after the soup we were led from the table and snuck around backstage. Sherry Abbott (who looked stunning in her gown) took to the front of the stage and presented the Tamara Wig, then introduced us as we came up. And then, one by one, we gave our stories.

It was incredibly touching, my fellow bloggers are inspiring women – high five to Katie and Terri! After the testimonials Sherry called for donations and in about 5 minutes we raised just over 30,000 dollars.  My goodness.

And for the rest of the night these successful industry people who had so intimidated me came up and shared their story. They had been involved in the Look Good Feel Better program for over 20 years. They had posed for the first cover of the LGFB magazine after fighting cancer. They had lost a wife to cancer. They appreciated our honesty and bravery.

And for me, with all the wonderful glitz and glam, those moments were what made the night. Cancer doesn’t just impact people in a certain area of the world, a certain age group, a certain social or economic sphere . . . cancer simply impacts. And the explosion hits you, no matter what your situation. Every person in that room had their connections, their stories, their experiences. We had more in common than I had realized.

(So the next time you feel intimidated, just remember what you’ve endured, and how this disease has hit so many. I guess we’re all survivors, in a way, whatever the story or situation.)

The rest of the evening involved fantastic food, a decadent dessert, magic, comedy, more contortion, and late night dancing (first time in forever I’ve danced late into the night and not felt like a zombie. Amazing! And in heels, too!).

I feel honoured to have participated in this Mirror Ball, and glad to have helped raise more funds. For sure, Look Good Feel Better helps women reclaim their identity, and for sure, Facing Cancer Together forms a bridge for relationships and connections.

The Mirror Ball was a great night for a great cause. And it certainly deserves this extra long post.