Why I Unmasque

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This is the second in a series of posts from our Unmasque committee, nominees and supporters about the 2nd Annual Unmasque Cancer event, to be held in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 29, 2017.  We are thrilled to be at The Mark this year,  located right in the heart of Los Angeles.  We have a strong and active committee of Samfund volunteers, Sambassadors and others who are helping us put together what we know will be a fantastic night.  

This year, we’re introducing the inaugural Unmasque Awards, honoring the unsung heroes in the cancer community that help those affected by the disease – through local fundraisers, by providing compassion and support, or simply by giving of time to help another person. We’re accepting nominations through February 13, 2017, so if you know someone who goes above and beyond to help others in the cancer community, nominate them today!  


By Melissa Lane

Picture yourself as a senior in college: you’re happy. You’re somewhat rebellious, and you’re excited to take the next step in your life. Then your mom tells you over the holidays that she is battling a rare form of cancer.

You take what feels is a million steps backwards.

You can’t think. Your mind starts running 100+ mph and your life – your perfect college life – starts spinning out of control.

She battles it. Chemo, radiation, surgery. And all the while she attends your college graduation with more energy than you and your entire group combined. Remission happens. You start your first step in your career and you’re ecstatic. Your life is on track again.

Then you get the news it comes back. And suddenly, you’re a 23 year-old taking care of your mom in the hospital and have to hear your father give her the bad news that this surgery wasn’t successful. A week later, you try and get back on with your life. Head back to work, celebrate the new year. Then one night, you get a call at 2:30 in the morning. Hop on a plane and plan her funeral.

Whirlwind read, huh? Understandable. I lived it.

15 years later, oftentimes it still feels like my world is spinning out of control. My mother was young — in her 50s, but by all accounts, too young to battle cancer. From that point on, I vowed to do anything I could in my power to fight this awful, horrendous disease. I did the walks, raised the money, but wanted to do more. I was invited to a few fundraisers for The Samfund, where I met people far *younger* than my mom was, who had, or were battling, cancer. I met Sam. I was moved by their courageous stories, unable to imagine what they dealt with or how they moved in life.

But they did.  

I started to understand how the disease is just the start of a long, tough road. The financial hardship could be just as crippling as the treatment. Suddenly, not being able to buy that extra outfit or pair of shoes, seemed frivolous. There was more to care about – it went beyond just “things.”

A couple of years ago, I introduced my friend Tarrah to Sam to discuss the possibility of Unmasque. The event went from concept to reality in no time. To participate in the inaugural event in 2015 was inspiring, and I was proud to be on the ground floor of creating this awesome event. The photos, the masks, the stories. It was unlike any event I’ve participated in – and I’ve done many.

This year, we’re flying back out from Boston to LA to participate. Personally, I can’t wait for my boyfriend to experience the event with me and meet everyone who is involved. It’s fun, it’s inspiring, and it’s well worth the flight.

Will you join us? Unmasque with us? Donate? Sponsor?


2 thoughts on “Why I Unmasque

  1. Melissa, beautiful post. I lost my Mom to cancer as a 40 something and it is different than losing a Mom as a young adult. It was too early, but the biggest suffering was with her, not me, because cancer cheated her out of her golden years. Cancer is a cruel disease and my friend and I recently joked that it is the stupidest organism on the planet because it dies every time it kills a host. You’d think it would want to hang around for awhile, like the flu. Cancer, you are an idiot.
    Two of my closest friends have cancer right now. They both have children. It’s not like on TV when Moms are calm and tell everyone they will be okay. They are terrified, they cry, have panic attacks, fear the pain they are causing thier families, fear for themselves. I just want there to be a cure. Because all of those fools telling us to get ready to live to be 100 don’t seem to notice that cancer is on the fast track to take over heart disease as the #1 cause of death in the US.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Coco! It is a cruel disease and my heart feels broken every day. My best wishes and thoughts to your friends – here’s to them kicking cancer’s @$$.

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