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Hope for a Cure

LOUSIVILLE Cancer can be a numbers game.

It’s full of statistics no one wants to face, like the troubling fact that one in eight women are at risk to receive a breast cancer diagnosis during their lifetime. About 20 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancer will receive a second diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC), which has no cure.

A Stage IV diagnosis puts numbers – months, days, and way too few years – to a life.

In the rush of the “pinkness” of October, many cancer advocates prefer to push away the “pink” and instead, focus on finding a cure through funding for research that can save lives.

Louisville resident and native of Wisconsin founded Hope Scarves in 2012, which shares scarves, stories, and hope with people facing cancer, as a personal reaction to her own battle with the deadly disease. MacGregor was pregnant with her second son when she learned she had breast cancer. After several years of treatment, in 2015, MacGregor learned her cancer had progressed to Stage IV.

Despite the diagnosis, MacGregor and her team at Hope Scarves have sent over 12,000 Hope Scarves to people ranging in age from 2-97, to every state and 24 countries, and have invested $600,000 for Stage IV, metastatic breast cancer research.

Hope Scarves raises much of those research dollars through the organization’s annual Colors of Courage event, which will be held Saturday, November 9th at Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center in Louisville. The event was named the “most meaningful event in Louisville” by area media.

Colors of Courage features dinner, live music, an auction, and a popular bourbon pull (which always sells out in minutes), but the most meaningful part of the evening comes in the powerful stories shared by survivors, patients, and families facing cancer. Each year, thousands of dollars are raised specifically to fund metastatic breast cancer research. Colors of Courage regularly sells out to a crowd of more than 500 guests.

MacGregor describes Colors of Courage as a night that brings together kindred souls, families, friends, and those facing cancer to celebrate the power of stories and living life over cancer.

“Until 2015, Hope Scarves was like many other cancer organizations celebrating survivorship,” said Lara MacGregor. “But, when my Stage II breast cancer progressed to Stage IV, I felt like these celebratory campaigns no longer reflected my experience. After careful consideration, we wanted to do more than celebrate the happy stories and those who ‘beat’ cancers.”

“We were touched by how many people appreciated this shift in perspective,” she added. “We added a research component to our work because though scarves and stories are inspiring and practical, they aren’t going to save anyone’s life. If we are truly going to live out our mission to change the way people experience cancer, we must help find more treatment options for those living with advanced cancer.”

In addition to funding research and sharing the scarves and stories worldwide, Hope Scarves brings that glimmer of hope to those it serves. As the organization grows, it is also growing partnerships with hospitals and cancer treatment centers in several states. MacGregor is a fervent and sought-after speaker at conferences and in the media and is determined to live her life over cancer.

Hope Scarves’ Colors of Courage event will once again bring hundreds together to raise needed research funds, but the need is there year-round.

MacGregor recently wrote, “I am reminded that loving life is what it’s all about. I don’t know what the next chapter holds, but I am one of the lucky ones. Daily, I hold friends in my heart who are spending summer getting rods in their legs to strengthen breaking bones, and those who are starting new chemo, and enduring full brain radiation. I don’t know when this will be my reality, but this I know – there is no greater story than a life well loved.”