Me & The Man in the Tutu

As a business professional and entrepreneur, I had taken very little time off from work in my life. I started full-time in corporate at nineteen, went to school at night and have always loved my career. But I worked, a lot. After my maternity leave was practically non-existent because the start-up I was running was, well - running out of steam, I realized that I found less fulfillment than I used to from laboring without a cause. In the middle of all that chaos (you know - struggling start-up, newborn baby), we lost my husband’s father to cancer.

Life needed to shift.

And life did. Another man entered my life. Professional photographer Bob Carey jumped into our life, and the man was wearing a pink tutu.

Alongside him, one of the bravest, strongest and funniest women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, his wife Linda. They sent Bob’s contacts (I was his photography student many moons ago) an email asking for a donation or sponsorship. Their goal? To self-publish a photography book of Bob’s images in a pink tutu. This body of work was about self-exploration in the face of difficulty, and he dedicated it to his wife and other women battling breast cancer.

I never expected my husband to love this work as much as I did. But Bob’s images of loneliness, happiness, and strength conveyed everything we were feeling after the loss of dad.

Our decision to sponsor their initial campaign led to a “how can I help” conversation. My expertise in digital marketing, running start-ups and bootstrapping a business came in very, very handy. Four years later, this project continues to give my work and life balance. Admittedly, now I work even more, since I do most of this in my “spare time”. But it’s work I can be really PROUD OF.

Bob Carey in my hometown of Santa Fe de Antioquia, near Medellin, Colombia.

Bob and Linda have become an integral part of our family. When we first met Linda, we could feel the power of her positivity. After twelve years with metastatic breast cancer, cancer has only defined WHAT she does with her time, but never her energy, love or humor.

Me + Linda

Our community sends us stories about how cancer can wreak havoc on finances, mental health, marriages and families. For The Tutu Project family, it’s not always pink and fun, but the experience of creating and disseminating these images sure provide one hell of respite from the seriousness of the disease. The funding we provide the breast cancer community through this work continues to inspire hundreds of thousands worldwide.

My son + Bob Carey at a Bloomingdale’s fundraiser. “Bloomies” is our major sponsor.

Did I mention we just release over $100,000 worth of grants to the breast cancer community?

Yep. We. Did. That.

I’m so proud to have this project as a part of my life’s legacy. My son thinks it’s what I do all the time. Eh, I’ll explain later!

Our #Dare2Tutu breast cancer fundraising campaign launches October 1st. I dare other digital strategists, influencers and start-ups to join this amazing cause — dare to be different, dare to make a difference and join us! Or hell, throw me a bone and donate to my campaign! I’m trying to beat my husband at fundraising this year!

Learn more by watching this touching video about Bob Carey’s journey through these images.