This Friday, the Prevent Cancer Foundation is hosting its 17th Annual Spring Gala: The Enchanting Principality of Monaco and I am honored to be involved in its planning. For me, this Gala is not just another social event; it is an important celebration for a cause that is especially close to my heart. In the past fifteen years, I have had three separate cancer diagnoses – two occurrences of melanoma and one occurrence of breast cancer. In each case, early detection was the gift of life.
My husband and I have spent the past 17 years in diplomatic postings and enjoyed traveling to all seven continents. Without a doubt, the most foreign and absolutely alien ground we have stood on is where we were each time I was told I had cancer. No matter where you live, a cancer diagnosis thrusts you into another world where suddenly nothing is familiar and the way ahead, unknown. No matter what language you speak, a diagnosis of cancer leaves you speechless.
In 2004, when our husbands were serving as Ambassadors to the U.N., a close friend and I discovered that, three years earlier, we had both been undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer in Paris at the same time. Although we would see each other at diplomatic functions, we never spoke of what we were going through and totally missed the opportunity to find strength and comfort in a shared experience. Realizing the important moral to our story, we co-hosted a “Pink Party” in New York for the wives of 75 ambassadors to share our message: talk more, open up, reach out and, in doing so, make a diagnosis of cancer a little easier to hear in any language or in every language. We were greatly honored that Prince Albert II of Monaco (who happened to be in town) graced our event, and the cause, with his presence. He even sported a pink tie to underscore his support.
Since then, I continue to advocate for more openness, discussion and sharing. Within the diplomatic community, I recognize a special need. In the past year, no less than three other wives of ambassadors have dealt with breast cancer, far from their home countries, and more importantly, far from their network of family and friends. We have formed our own small and intimate support group where fears and concerns can be expressed, great strength is found in friendship, and life is celebrated.
I congratulate the Prevent Cancer Foundation on the occasion of their Silver Jubilee and offer my heartfelt gratitude for all they have done throughout the past 25 years to promote cancer prevention and early detection.
Editor’s Note: Ellen Noghès is the wife of H.E. Gilles Noghès, Ambassador of Monaco. She is a philanthropist, cancer survivor and prevention advocate.