Barbie Ritzco. Her name has a resonance all its own, don’t you think? It dances around your head and tantalises your tongue with its rhythm. It whispers of warrior and thrums with the beat of the runner. Barbie Ritzco.
Barbie died yesterday.
It was almost three years ago when, in my search for people like me, I came across the Scar Project, and though her name didn’t stick in my chemo brain consciously at the time, it wiggled into a crack somewhere. Her picture, on the other hand, made my heart skip. She was a real soldier. She was beautiful. And I wanted to be like her, very much.
And then one day something came up in my Twitter feed and I recognised the picture… Hey, was this THAT girl? This picture I loved even more, and the mantra she tweeted has stuck with me ever since. Find Your Strong.
Think about that for a moment.
Find YOUR Strong.
Not “BE” strong.
Find. YOUR. Strong.
And so I came to Barbie proper, and to Flat and Fabulous, Sara Bartosiewicz-Hamilton and to people like me. First a handful, then a few hundred, now over a thousand, we find each other from the corners of the world and we swell – real, beautiful women who live life just as we are, who find our strong, and on the days when we don’t, we have each other.
I wasn’t the only one. And sometimes, that’s a very good thing to know.
What Sara and Barbie started needed starting. The discussion that every woman facing breast cancer surgery has, WILL become more rounded and inclusive, every option explored, every woman heard.
Barbie died, and that fills me with sadness. I honour her life, howl at her bloody gone-ness, and hold her close to my heart where she has become part of my strong.
Beautiful warrior, dance on…