Let’s Talk: Breast Cancer and the Pink Agenda

Marisa Lee Bolssen

Marisa Lee Bolssen

It’s October! The weather is changing, the leaves are turning and this month we support and recognize those battling breast cancer. Breast cancer affects the lives of many. There have been some great advancements in the research and search for a cure but there is much more to be done. Every 2 minutes someone is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Hanky Panky continues to be a proud supporter of The Pink Agenda. We are happy to celebrate their 10 years of Raising Money, Raising Awareness and Raising Hell.

Marisa Lee Bolssen, one of the founders of The Pink Agenda was kind enough to give us a little insight into what the organization is all about.

How did The Pink Agenda come about?

When I was 22 and about to graduate from college my Mom, who had MS at the time, suddenly became very ill. A few months into her illness we learned she had Stage 4 breast cancer and the pain she was in was due to the cancer having traveled to her bones. It was devastating. I took a year off after college to help my parents manage her diagnosis and then moved in NYC in 2006. One night after an episode of Gray’s Anatomy where they showed what someone’s insides look like from cancer, I knew I need ed to do something. I’ve always been good at throwing parties and told some friends I thought we should throw a party for breast cancer. Thankfully, they all agreed and the rest is history. We were barely 24 at the time and our ignorance definitely worked to our advantage!

Marisa Lee Bolssen & her mother at The Pink Agenda's first gala, 10 years ago

Marisa Lee Bolssen & her mother at The Pink Agenda’s first gala, 10 years ago

What is its mission?

The mission of The Pink Agenda is to engage a new generation of philanthropists in the fight against breast cancer. We work to ensure that fun and philanthropy are not mutually exclusive and our events are accessible to a younger demographic. We believe raising money and awareness about breast cancer from this demographic is the best way to guarantee we see a cure in our lifetime.

You take a more fun approach to charity events, why is that?

We were young when we started and we knew young people wanted to have fun. Why not have fun with us, for a good cause? If you’re going to go out and spend money anyway, at least now your Friday hangover will have a good deed attached to it!

How do people get involved with The Pink Agenda?

Currently, the organization has events in NYC, Atlanta, Boston, and DC that folks can participate in and if interested there are local leadership councils in each city that folks can join as well. If you don’t live in one of those cities and want to fundraise in your area, you can visit www.thepinkagenda.org/fundraise. We also always accept donations and folks can contribute here: thepinkagenda.nationbuilder.com/donate.

Where does the money go and who does it help?

Our funds primarily support breast cancer research through a special partnership with the world’s premier breast cancer research entity, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. To date, The Pink Agenda has raised over $2 million for breast cancer research. Additionally, through a partnership with Giuliana Rancic, each year we grant a number of wishes for women battling breast cancer through her FAB-U-WISH program.

I know you lost your mother at a young age. What advice do you have for anyone going through that right now?

That’s a tough one. First, figure out what you need to do to have no regrets when you do lose your mother. I felt like I did everything I could have for her when she was alive and I ensured she died the way that she wanted to. Those two things gave me a lot of peace after she died. Second, I would say try to sort through what you need as you’re dealing with a dying parent and afterward. I don’t think I was mature enough at the time to realize how damaged I was from losing my mother at a young age. It takes a lot to come out on the other side whole, so try to figure out what things will help you heal.

Marisa Lee Bolssen & her mother

Marisa Lee Bolssen & her mother

So the gala…what’s your favorite part? Mine is the bidding because people get so passionate about it and of course I get to see you. 😁

 My favorite part of the gala by far is getting to give out an award with my mom’s name on it. Because she’s dead I don’t even see her name anymore so getting to see it on a plaque and give it to someone who is doing work that makes them worthy of honoring feels pretty great.

The Pink Agenda is in alliance with BCRF and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute‘s Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer. Please take a moment this month, visit The Pink Agenda and show your support.

The 10 year anniversary gala will be held this Thursday, October 5, 2017 in New York City. Tickets are still available.

-Stephanie, Visual, Social and Philanthropy Coordinator

About Hanky Panky

Over 30 years ago, in 1977, designer Gale Epstein created a hand-made lingerie set for her friend, Lida Orzeck, crafted out of embroidered handkerchiefs. The original designs were the inspiration for the company name, Hanky Panky. Blending traditional with modern glam looks, Hanky Panky is a fashion favorite of countless celebrities.
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