BRAWLEY — Shannon Carrillo, accessorized in pink, flashed a warm, welcoming smile to each Between Women Garden Tour ticket holder as they approached her table in front of the first home tour featured in Brawley. Her table mate, Stella, added her charm by selling raffle tickets. Shannon checked the tickets and then gave directions into one of the six fabulous gardens offered for this year’s garden tour.
Between Women is an advocacy, education and support organization devoted exclusively to breast health.
Linda Cady, founder of Between Women, has been offering garden tours for 6 years. She got the idea from botanical connoisseur, Meg Ryan. Ryan, a known Valley garden enthusiast, had started the tour concept and Cady said she enjoyed traveling to the various homes that offered views of yards that were a cut above. When Ryan decided to not organize the tour anymore, Cady jumped at the opportunity.
But the garden tour is more than a fundraiser for breast cancer patients according to the “crazy redhead,” as Cady refers to herself. It is also an outreach to raise the level of understanding about breast cancer. For Cady, early detection and early care are critical in the fight against the dreaded disease. She does everything she can, and some things nobody thought she could, all to give women a fighting chance.
For example, Shannon could not speak highly enough of Cady. “When my aunt came down with cancer, Linda was there from day one. She went to doctors’ visits with my tia, she explained everything the doctors said. She helped her wade through her options,” Shannon said, wiping the tears that had welled up in her eyes. “I remember what Linda Cady did for her. I remember everything.”
“So I volunteered at Between Women for my Senior Project,” Shannon said. “I would do anything for Linda. Now I work every year at the garden tour. Seeing all the good that she does for other women, that’s the reason I’m out here.”
Stella is Valley icon Stella Mendoza, who has also battled breast cancer. “Linda was my friend since school. I was in my 40s when I was diagnosed. She was the first person I contacted. She knew what to do, who to see, and what to ask. She helped save my life,” she said.
Now Stella sits on the board of the Breast Cancer Resource Center of the Desert.
Stella’s outcome was victorious, while the disease eventually took Shannon’s aunt’s life. This has made Cady even more determined. She is working hard for the cure. This has become her life work.
One organization, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) has worked to eradicate breast cancer since the early 90s. On Sept. 20, 2010, NBCC announced a bold plan to know how to end breast cancer by Jan. 1, 2020.
“Pink ribbons do not cure anything,” Cady adamantly declared. “Research does. Understanding what kills women and men with breast cancer moves the flag forward.”
As the NBCC plans to eliminate deaths from breast cancer, they logically aim to understand and prevent metastasis. The physical spread of cancer is responsible for 90% of deaths from breast cancer, according to their site.
Cady’s determination and organization has caught the attention of the National Cancer Organization. Although Cady has traveled to Washington D.C. for years for the annual convention, tirelessly lobbying congressman, bureaucrats, and even military generals for funds, this year she has been asked to be one of the speakers.
In early May, the petite, red-headed fireball will speak in front of an audience of thousands in Washington D.C., letting them get a dose of not just her passion, but her tireless work to save lives, and giving her access to more than just one person at a time.