Tequila for Tatas: the Purpose, the Cause, the Name

By: Anna Stern

When you think of breast cancer, do you think of pink ribbons and survivors? Because I did, until a friend of mine got sick. I believed that the multimillion dollar breast cancer awareness campaigns were effective and that breast cancer was largely curable. And that may be true for many, many women. But did you know that once breast cancer metastasizes, it is incurable? That the most the medical profession can do for you at that point is to try to slow progression of the disease for as long as possible? And did you know that despite all the funds poured into awareness campaigns and pink ribbons, the statistics of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) haven’t changed because very little funding goes toward research into MBC? I didn’t know it either, until the same friend I mentioned above was diagnosed with MBC. Our women (and men) are dying. To be precise, 113 die every single day. And those numbers haven’t changed in 30 years. It’s time to do something about that.

So, when Erika Cleaver, a project manager at Tri-North, came to me four years ago and said she wanted to do a breast cancer fundraiser in honor of women she knew battling breast cancer and asked if Tri-North would support it, I wholeheartedly agreed. That is how Tequila for TaTas was born. That first year, we raised $2,239, with all proceeds of the event going to METAvivor, an organization dedicated solely to MBC research, awareness, and support. The next year, Tequila for TaTas raised $3,932, every penny of which, again, went to METAvivor.

We are blessed that our very own UW Carbone Cancer Center now has a grant which directly supports research here in Madison, focused on finding a cure for, or slowing the progression of, MBC. So, we switched from raising funds for one very worthy organization to fundraising for a local fund right here in Madison, WI.

Last year, our goal was to raise $5,000 dollars for UW Carbone. We ended up raising $8,300!

Now in our fourth year, we are so pleased that our event is growing. But with growth always comes challenges. We’ve seen a few comments on the naming of our event, and we wanted to take a minute to not only provide background on our event, but also to directly address those comments. In all honesty, when Erika first came to me, we debated some on the naming of our event, wondering if people would be able to see the fun in the name and in the event, or if it would cause offense. We chatted with a number of people, including the women we were honoring at the event, and with their blessing, we decided to go for it. After all, this is an event created by women, honoring the wonderful women in our lives who fought, or are fighting MBC, and raising funds for a worthy cause. And really, as Shakespeare said, “what’s in a name?” We understand the concerns raised by a couple of individuals and we appreciate the input, we truly do. That said, we certainly disagree with any assertion that we are somehow benefiting from the event or that, as contractors, we are not a profession that can host a breast cancer fundraiser. The fact is, Tri-North is a community-minded contractor, with many female employees. We’ve hosted this fundraiser for four years now and we’ve raised funds for worthy organizations. And yes, we’ve had some fun doing it. Any assumption otherwise by folks who have never attended our event is misplaced.

There is a quote I love:

“And every day the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”     -Iain Thomas

The importance of this event doesn’t lie in the name, or the fact that the people organizing it are contractors. For anyone who expressed concern over the event name or the fact that we are contractors, we are truly sorry you felt triggered by the name of our event. But I know in my heart that what is most important are the memories of the women we honor with this event. What is important are the approximately 150,000 women living on borrowed time because they have metastatic breast cancer diagnoses. What is important are the funds we raise from this event and the research those funds support. If you can’t see the fun in the naming of our event, or can’t see past our profession, that’s okay, we understand where you are coming from. Please consider supporting the More For Stage IV fund on your own, because I hope that is also what your heart is telling you is truly important. And if you would like to learn more about the women we honor, please click here to see Erika’s very moving blog post.