Shortly after Angie was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, treatment side effects began to take their toll. She said on a number of occasions, “I’ve lost my hair, I feel lousy, I look like lousy, I don’t even feel like a girl anymore. I just feel like cancer is all I am. Shortly after she passed away, I realized it wasn’t just Angie that thought that way….. It was universal with women going through the ravages of cancer treatment.
Cancer is something you get….not something you are and shouldn’t be able to take your identity. We decided to give women a pair of red, “blingy”, sequined, super comfy slippers as a reminder, “You’re still a girl…. You’re still beautiful…..You’re just in a fight. After 32 years as a state trooper, I can tell you, I was never in a fight in my life that I didn’t get beat up “some”. They’re just in a fight. Its important to remember, “Cancer does not define me!” and the Red Slipper Warrior slippers are a continual reminder that our warriors are more than cancer….
After a 32 year career with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and spending eight years on the state’s SWAT team as well as providing personal security for three of our state’s governors, I know having the right mindset during life and death challenges is critical to survival and success. Creating a warrior, invincible, bulletproof mindset is a must in SWAT just as it is for tackling cancer treatments. We focus on “Going in HOT” and “Warriors winning the Day” as part of that equation, as well as knowing you’re never alone and have a team that supports you. We want to help you find that inner warrior mindset to be a better fighter because ‘Better Fighters Win More Often!”
Secondly, we took a page from my years on the Missouri State Highway Patrol SWAT team. During those years, we were called to a lot of really bad situations…. Situations where our mission often started out with, “Well, he’s killed two…. He’s got two hostages…. And he says he’s killing the next one through the door”.
Frequently, that was me…. I was “that guy”….. The first one through the door. Preparing for that sort of high risk entry requires you to focus. Thoughts of failure or possibility of not surviving can’t enter your head if you’re to survive and succeed. As we would get in our “stack”, preparing to make our entry, I learned to get my mind right…. Become “bulletproof” so the only thing on my mind…. THE ONLY THING, was “winning”. No other option existed. “We’re going in hot and we’re “winning”
The parallels between a SWAT mission and cancer treatment are so similar. The stakes and the risk are both high. In both situations, to be successful, one must be focused on “winning”, regardless of prognosis…… We’re going in hot…. And we are winning.
To emphasize the SWAT mindset, warriors are given a back pack styled “Go-Bag”. Every SWAT operator on the planet maintains a “Go-Bag”. We generally kept a weapon, ammunition, water, protein bars, etc….. Whatever you might need to be a factor and viable in your adversary’s life. Patients frequently take something to treatment to pass the time: a book, Ipad, music. The go- bag, just like the slippers serve as part of the “battle gear”, again a reminder of the warrior mindset.
A bag is just a bag….. Slippers are just slippers. Right up until they become symbols of empowerment.
Nursing staff at the chemo clinics are provided “blingy” Red Slipper Warrior Project lapel/badge pins, with our “Ribbon and Crown” logo to attach to their ID badges. The buttons reflect the “team concept” Red Slipper Warrior Project promotes which is critical for success. Patients are looking for their team to be as focused as they are. The buttons reflect the nurses and entire team of treatment specialists are focused on “winning” with their “Warrior.”
The package includes Red Slipper Warrior Project (™) slippers and a Red Slipper WarriorProject(™) “Go-Bag”. Younger patients not only get Red Slipper Warrior Project slippers, they get “Hope”; the Red Slipper Warrior Project (™) stuffed lop eared bunny (Wearing her Red Slippers!), to assure they are never alone, even during extended stays for treatment.
In a word…. Empowerment.
Most all other “support” for cancer patients involve some level off “distractions”; things to take their mind of what they are going through. Distractions are important…. We use them too, however, here’s the difference. When the lights go out at the end of the day, and that woman or little girl is laying in her bed….. Alone…. with just her and her thoughts, distractions don’t work. Its at that point, you have to have a bulletproof, warrior mindset.
Being a warrior doesn’t mean you don’t get knocked down…. It just means you always get back up.
Warriors find their wins.
Warriors win the day.
The Red Slipper Warrior Project is focused on creating warriors all over the world, that not only are better fighters but also constantly reminded, they are not defined by cancer…. They’re STILL beautiful and bonded in creating a support system for each other.