Column: Sharing Pain, Sharing Joy

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Vice president–Content/editorial directorWelcome to our annual “Pink Issue” in which we profile a member of the travel industry who has faced, or is facing, the diagnosis of breast cancer. This is our sixth year of presenting this feature and I’ve found the common threads among each of our subjects is their incredible drive to survive, their determination to maintain a “normal” environment for their families even as they’re going through the traumas of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and their decision to continue working or return to work as quickly as possible, even during some of the toughest times of their journey.

The reason for the latter? They love their job of being a travel advisor so much; all found it helped distract them from the difficulties of their illness and treatment. As well, each eventually developed a sense of humor to get them through it all, whether it was finding the “fun” of wearing a wig to cover the hair loss wrought by chemo, or discovering a way to laugh with friends and loved ones while spending hours in the waiting rooms of hospital clinics and doctors’ offices.

Each shared their stories with the readers of Travel Agent fully and in great detail, with the hope that her story would help or inspire at least just one person in the beginning stages of battling breast cancer. I’m certain that over the past six years, the profiles of these very brave and generous women have helped hundreds, and not just our readers. Imagine how often the stories have been passed on to friends, relatives and friends of friends, well beyond the border of the travel industry.

In this “Pink Issue” I’m delighted to introduce you to Mary Jo Dopson of Gateway Travel & Cruise in Clinton, Iowa. Clinton, located along the Mississippi River, is where Mary Jo was born and lives to this day. You’ll find that it’s not just her story of surviving breast cancer that’s captivating, it’s the joy with which Mary Jo embraces everyday life. Her humor and, of course, desire to share her strength and support other women are absolutely inspirational.

As in the past six years, Travel Agent magazine is donating a portion of the proceeds from the dedicated “Pink Issue” ads you’ll see in this issue to a cause of our “Pink Lady’s” choice. Mary Jo has asked the funds this year go to the American Cancer Society, specifically on behalf of her sister-in-law, Julie Nagel, who passed away this year from cancer; see here for details.

Thank you, Mary Jo, for sharing your story with us, and thank you to those who have shared tales in past years. The help and hope you’ve brought to many is simply priceless.