RON WHITE AND MARGO REY CO-CHAIR Brides Against Breast Cancer™ (BABC) COMMITTEE
Margo Rey is a two-time breast cancer survivor, but she prefers the term “warrior.” The chart-topping singer (two #1 dance tracks, and numerous adult contemporary pop hits on the national charts), co-founder of Organica Music Group, and partner of comedian Ron White, is about to make it official. She and Ron White will tie the knot in October, and their nuptials have been planned around the same time as an event for “Brides Against Breast Cancer, (BABC)” which has named her as their National Ambassador. White and Rey have also been named co-chairs for this incredible organization which provide free services and programs nationwide to support and educate those impacted by cancer.
As she related the tale of her struggle with cancer, it became clear that Margo Rey is a warrior and more. She tackles this disease with the same determination and aplomb that has helped her navigate the entertainment arena and capture a worldwide audience with her alternative pop songs.
Her biggest hit, “Let the Rain” – co-written with the legendary John Oates – which remained on the charts for 21 weeks, has been chosen as BABC’s anthem. Rey’s newest single, “Tempted,” is presently in the Top 20 Adult Contemporary Pop charts and currently being played on dozens of radio stations across the United States. Rey spent some time talking with AMFM Magazine about how she coped with the disease and it’s treatment, and how she’s helping others do the same. This lady will never “go gentle into that good night” without a fight – and she urges everyone else to do the same by arming themselves with knowledge.
HOW DID YOU COME TO BE WORKING WITH Brides Against Breast Cancer™ (BABC)?
They were looking for an artist or celeb who had a voice or cause to tour selective cities. I’m a two time breast cancer survivor. I’m in the trenches of the latter part of my treatment. I am adamant about all the things you can do – AND I’m about to be a bride, so it was a trifecta.
They selected my song “let the rain” which I co-wrote with John Oates, to be their anthem. “Let the Rain” is about finding hope in a time of adversity. I could not be more proud or honored.
MARGO REY – LET THE RAIN
WHAT IS “TOUR OF THE GOWNS?”
BABC’s “Tour of the Gowns” is a very well run charity. Brides donate their gowns, which are put on a truck and toured around the country to 120 cities – coming to a town near you – and it’s only one of the many ways that they raise money. Say you have a gown, you’re not going to wear it again or you’ve never worn it. You donate it to feel good about yourself and you also get a nice tax write off.
Then the gowns are sold for a great discount. There are about a thousand gowns at each trunk show, they usually get the show space donated to them, so that’s a win-win situation. The woman who donates the gown feels better, The woman who buys the gown feels better. Seventy-eight cents of every dollar generated from this goes right back into The Center for Building Hope in Sarasota, Florida. The Center preps people with cancer with mind and body treatments and it is 100 percent free to everyone in Sarasota and at a hundred affiliates throughout the country. Already two million dollars raised through the “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” goes to free programs and information for those impacted by cancer. The website has more information, go to: www.bridesabc.org or call 1-877-721-HOPE. If you have already said “I DO” and want to donate your gown, there is a tax deduction available.
100 PERCENT FREE?
Yes, and these are all treatments that are an essential part of healing. It’s where doctors and hospitals leave off. It’s things like nutrition classes, wellness, group therapy, Tai Chi, and Yoga. You can go to bridesagainstbreastcancer.org and thecenterforbuildinghope.org.
Harvard’s Benson institute has verified these treatments are tried and true and an essential part of healing. The medical community can only do so much and then you must take it into your own hands, and do the things that doctors and hospitals can’t provide for you – your own personal wellness. Doing the things that make you feel good about yourself, make you happier and a less stress environment. We all know that stress is a number one cause of illness. Stress causes inflammation to the body, and inflammation causes disease. Services like wellness and group therapy and group nutrition, those are all tried and true ways to reduce stress.
YOU YOURSELF ARE A VERY POSITIVE BREAST CANCER WARRIOR IN THE FACE OF THIS DISEASE. YOU HAVE BEEN AN INSPIRATION TO A LOT OF PEOPLE ALREADY. DID THIS COME FROM THIS ORGANIZATION OR WITHIN YOURSELF?
I would say it came from within me, and then I found this platform. I’m now more inspired than ever, because I’ve found a voice and a platform and can help others, and I get to tour around the country and speak to others about it. It’s magical how we met and became involved. My original diagnosis was in 2009. I just signed on with BABC about a month ago. I have a new youtube channel called chemoglam, check it out!
CAN YOU GIVE ME ONE EXAMPLE OF HOW WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW BECAUSE OF YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH BREAST CANCER?
The obvious way has been what it’s done to me physically. You try not to overthink things and get in the way of your own healing. You try to wrap your brain around things like, “Okay, what is going on in my body today, what does my body need today?” – and to be truly present. Something I thought I was already doing, but I’ve gotten better over the past three years, with these more aggressive treatments that I’ve had to have, and the second diagnosis of cancer, I’m learning.
This time I am in chemotherapy, and as a lot of people know, chemotherapy does a lot of crazy things to your body. Knowing to set your limits and allow yourself the time to heal.
What it has done in a bigger way is it’s made me more aware and to have more empathy for others. I know first hand what it’s like to tackle a disease. I’ve never been a ‘why me” – more like “okay what can we do?” Knowledge is power.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHER’S WHO HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED?
If there is one message that I could give to the world, it would be to win the battle between your ears with a positive attitude and support group in order to win the battle that lies ahead. You need to live your life, you can’t just curl up in a ball and hide. That’s the last thing you should do.
The most important thing you can do is create a sense of healing and normalcy within all of the treatments that are going to come your way, whether it’s surgery, drug therapy, chemotherapy, or radiation. You can’t just say “Ok! whatever, I’ve got to run this company” or whatever you do and ignore what’s happening to you.
Breast cancer patients are becoming younger and younger. Women need to listen to their own bodies, commit to getting regular check-ups and mammograms. Cancer can occur in a seemingly healthy and fit person. I had never been overweight, a smoker, a heavy drinker nor had I been seriously ill, broken a bone, hospitalized, or even had a cavity. I ate mostly organic food and had been practicing yoga for over fifteen years when I was diagnosed. Even though breast cancer did not run in my family, nor did I have the BRCA gene, I was always very diligent about fitness, my yearly health check-ups and self examinations but it took an extra set of hands, that of my loving partner Ron, to discover the initial lump. It then took a sonogram to spot it because I have always had very dense breast tissue and tumors aren’t always detected with standard imaging like a mammogram. A sonogram has saved my life, twice! Another important factor for women to realize that I realized, is the damage that can be caused to my body, by my inability to handle stress in a truly holistic way.
Even though I was present in my body, it became so evident to me how much stress I was internalizing. Stress causes inflammation in the organs and cancer loves inflammation. In the world today, we are all aware of cancer. Through education and kindness to others and to oneself, we can heal ourselves. My cancer journey has been a true gift of self-actualization and letting go of the things that no longer serve me. I loved my natural breasts, they looked fabulous, and I was often asked if they were real, but hey, they got cancer so there was absolutely no hesitation in my decision for a bi-lateral mastectomy. I feel like my original breasts got early retirement for a job well done.
You need also to know your boundaries and set your limits. Listen to your body and surround yourself with a loving support group. Don’t ignore your body, and surround yourself with a loving support group.
Ron is one of many, he’s a fantastic partner to be with, he’s very patient. What people don’t realize is what the partner goes through. I don’t like to think of myself as a “patient,” I’m just a person having this experience. It’s really hard on the partner, really hard on the family members. It’s extremely hard on people with children, the children are scared. They don’t know what’s happening. It’s really important to talk about it and not hide it.
Sometimes that’s incongruent with some people’s personalities, they’re very closed up and don’t want to talk about it. It’s about being selective with whom you speak about it to with people on a personal level. It’s important to find therapy in that.
PERHAPS TO SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE TYPES OF PEOPLE THAT YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE BEEN AROUND IN THE FIRST PLACE. DOES HAVING A CANCER DIAGNOSIS MAKE IT A KIND OF FILTER FOR PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOR?
Not really, you hope people are already living their lives like that. You will learn very fast who can deal with it and who can’t. You don’t want to be the only person at a party and everyone be like “Oh – here comes cancer girl.”
Sometimes well intentioned people will tilt their heads and say “how are you feeling?” You can tell they’re really not ready for the answer. You can tell, if their eyes glaze over…but that’s life in general. We always someone to say “I’m fine.” To ask someone who has had a cancer diagnosis “How they are” is a loaded and exhausting question. Whether it’s well-intended or not, do they really want to know the anwer? It’s sometimes very detailed information. Email updates to a group who cares is sometimes the best way to communicate with those who really want to know. “This many rounds, this many days apart, this is the city, this is the hospital,” that type of thing.
At dinner when you sit down, you wonder what else you would be talking about if you weren’t a cancer patient. So having to repeat yourself when they really don’t want to know the details. Maybe a better question would be more specific, like – “You feeling good today?” Or “When did your treatment start?” or “How long is your treatment. People don’t know how to act or feel and they want to help you and don’t know how.
LET’S TALK ABOUT MUSIC, YOU’RE GOING TO BE A BRIDE, AS WELL AS BEING A CANCER SURVIOR. IS THIS GOING TO BE REFLECTED IN YOUR MUSIC?
I’m always writing, usually always trying to record. Life in general if you’re a cognizant and you’re aware of your surrounds, life is always changing. You don’t need a cancer diagnosis to enrich your songwriting.
I just finished writing and recording a song with Barrett Yeretsian, a fantastic young producer, he co-wrote Christina Parri’s “Jar of Hearts.” He’s been a songwriting partner for the last two years in addition to John Oates. It felt really good to break away from this medical madness and do what I was born to do and what my passion is. I also think I was born to be this voice, for Brides against Breast Cancer.
MARGO REY – “TEMPTED”
People use different words for it, I don’t know, but life has led me to this position and I’m very honored to hold it, and I want to take care of it.
WHAT EXACTLY WILL YOUR DUTIES BE?
I speak about my story, I create awareness, what it’s like, how you can help. I talk about the importance of how it’s not about just to having your medical treatments and checkups, but that you have to heal yourself with a mind-body connection before this kind of diagnosis happens.
It’s important to bring these services to people across the country. I have signed on as co-chair with my soon to be husband Ron White. They’re doing a $5 million expansion, it’s called the “Say I Do” campaign. Those funds will help create a national online network of more than a hundred affiliates.
It includes programming and training for the organization, because someone has to train the people who train the patients and the family members. There are online cancer-related services, it also funds self care videos and other programs. They will be nationally distributed.
I’m also there to raise awareness for the texting campaign, by texting the word “brides” to 85944 you can donate $10 to Brides against Breast Cancer. Do it as many times as you like.
Our biggest fund raiser is actually a week or so after my wedding, it’s on the weekend of October 31st, and Sept. 1st. It’s a black tie gala in Sarasota Fl.
Buy a ticket and attend, or not attend, give your ticket to someone else. Ron and I will both be performing, as well as my brother Alex Reymundo, who’s a very successful comedian.
I will also be touring with the Tour of Gowns telling my story and sharing love and hope.
WILL YOU BE SELLING YOUR GOWN AS WELL?
I most definitely will be. I mean, what are you gonna do with that dress? Might as well donate it and make somebody happy. We tend to hold on to “things” – why not just move on? In addition to making another bride happy, she found it, it fits her she got it at a great price – all that money goes to providing wonderful services. Most bridal gowns just end up sitting in a closet.
HOW WOULD SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN DIAGNOSED BE ABLE TO GET HELP?
It’s as easy as getting on the website, www.CenterForBuildingHope.org and find an affiliate, or if they can visit the center in person in Sarasota, FL. We are also very excited to announce a partnership between CFBH and Moffit Cancer Center, which is located in Tampa Florida. This collaboration brings together two world-class providers of mind/body cancer support, one is a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of all forms of cancer and the other is a leader in information, education and programs supporting those undergoing cancer treatment.