When LUNA bar approached me to publish a post on a female game-changer, I immediately thought of my mother. The strength that she possesses is incomparable and her zest for life is contagious despite the many obstacles she's faced.
Marlene Lerner entered this world on September 6, 1951, a balmy autumn day in rural North Carolina. A brief moment of joy quickly dissipated as my grandparents soon discovered that their new baby was born with one hand, a permanent disfigurement that could have radically affected the course of my mother's life.
Instead, with a lot of encouragement she was able to enjoy a fruitful upbringing filled with accepting friends and fun extracurriculars. She fled the nest at 18, climbed the insurance industry ranks, and eventually migrated west to further her ambitions and start a family.
Her physical defect desensitized me from others with disabilities, due to her able-bodiedness, but also made me more sensitive to their plight. I learned the meaning of empathy from a very early age, due to her humanity towards those less fortunate.
In 2004, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she tackled it head on by undergoing a lumpectomy and continued radiation treatment. Because of her diligence, she was cancer-free and in remission.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2009. She went in for a routine mammogram, and the oncologist ended up spotting a lump in her right breast, the same breast that was originally diagnosed. Why was this happening again, to MY mother, who had already endured so much in her life? Again, instead of floundering in sorrow, she began researching the specific type of cancer, consulted with numerous doctors, and created a plan of action for eradicating this aggressive disease.
In early 2010, she underwent a unilateral mastectomy, the removal of her right breast, and started on Tamoxifen, an antagonist of the estrogen receptor in breast tissue. On top of all the trauma her body had sustained, she ended up contracting MRSA, a staph infection, and was prescribed a strong regiment of antibiotics for roughly six months.
It's now 2014 and my mother is not only alive but thriving! She's been in remission for five years (YAY!) and is still extremely gregarious and extraordinarily energetic. What she lacks in body parts, she makes up for in spirit! She's taught me to never give up, that life is about weathering storms, and that you'll come out stronger on the other side. She's my hero!
What is LUNAFEST?
LUNAFEST, brought to you by LUNA bar, the whole nutrition bar for women, connects women, their stories, and their causes through film. This traveling film festival, brought to you by LUNA bar, spotlights the work of a diverse array of talented women filmmakers with intelligent, funny and thought-provoking themes. LUNAFEST, not only showcases these amazing women but also raises millions of dollars for non-profits around the country.
This year, LUNAFEST films celebrate women who are game-changers in their own lives. Everyone has a woman in their life who has inspired the people around them. This campaign is focusing on these women and how they have made a positive impact in your life while highlighting the festival and this year’s amazing films.
The film festival—by, for, and about women—has not only raised 2.5 million dollars to date for the Breast Cancer Fund and other nonprofits around the country but is also rare in that it is one of the few recognized and heralded avenues reserved for women filmmakers, and enables them to get their films out into the world and to impact and inspire other women filmmakers and their audiences.