About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

You Ought to be in Pictures!

Yesterday was the big day for the commercial and photo shoot for the 2012 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure.  The organizers asked us to be at the studio (in Hollywood) between 8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Having lived in LA in the past, I knew traffic could be pretty bad. I left my house at 5:30 a.m. It wasn't too difficult-I'm an early riser, and they were going to be doing my hair/makeup. I just made sure my crazy, curly locks weren't sticking out before I left.

I got to the studio right on time. It was on Sunset Boulevard-right smack dab in the middle of Hollywood. I used to live in LA, not far from Hollywood during law school. I didn't think I would get excited, but I'll admit that it was a bit thrilling!  I pulled into the small lot and a man asked me what shoot I was there for. He told me to pull my car onto this ramp thing that would eventually elevate my car so they could park another car underneath. The ramp was at a 45 degree angle. I drive a Honda Odyseey minivan. I tried, but knew there was no way I would do it successfully. I'm a bad parker, remember? He offered to do it for me if I left my keys. As I got out of the car, another man came up and offered to detail my car for $20 while I was at the studio. I checked my wallet and told him I didn't have any cash. He said a check would be okay. He was really nice, assuring me that he was legit and I could ask "Brandon" to check him out. Sure, why not? My car has never been detailed and $20 was a screaming deal.

In the parking lot, I recognized a couple that I had seen at the auditions in La Jolla. The wife was obviously in chemo, since she was bald. The three of us went in together and were met by very friendly people. They led us through the studio rooms and up to the green room. They had a breakfast spread all out for us. In the green room, I recognized a lady named Marcy, whom I had also met down at the auditions. I helped myself to some breakfast and sat down. One of the women working on the commercial made a comment about how she felt she already knew us. They had been watching our audition tapes!  They said this was the largest cast they had ever had-17 of us.  

After more of my fellow cast members showed up, the director came up and introduced himself. Then he took us on a tour of the studio and briefed us on what we would be doing that day. First, was wardrobe. It was just a little curtained off area-almost like the triage in an emergency room. Directly across from wardrobe was the hair/makeup station. They had two artists there to work on us. Then there was the studio where they would be taping us. He said in the morning, they would be doing interviews where he would be getting us to talk about our stories and say certain things, but in our own words. In the afternoon, they were going to get a little more "Hollywood" and have the camera mounted on a train track and have it move around us. Then he led us into another room where our still shots would be taken.

Well, we had PLENTY of time to get to know one another. As they got started, they would call a person or two at a time to go to wardrobe/hair/makeup. Then they would tape their interview, get a tattoo on their cheek and then be sent to photography. So I waited. And waited. And waited. It wasn't a waste though, I met some really amazing people throughout the morning. Women that I had an instant bond with. Who understood the little things. Like hot flashes in the night with a bald head. Hat on/hat off/hat on/hat off. Or like not being able to hold your baby after surgery. Or the fears that we aren't really done with it at all. A few women had their daughters with them. There were two married couples. Everyone had a story, and we had plenty of time to get to know them.  Most everyone there had already done the walk before. I think I was one of only two first-time walkers. We got advice from the veterans and heard about how the walk was. All in all, it was a lot of fun getting to know everyone. It made me pretty excited for the walk next month.

 By lunchtime, I still had not been called, nor had a handful of others. We decided since the caterer had set out food, to eat. It was so yummy! They had a wonderful salad with all kinds of good veggies in it, grilled veggies, chicken picatta, a mushroom ravioli, and a beef dish I didn't get to.  They really fed us well!

After lunch, we continued to wait. Others had already filmed and done still shots. About 5 of us still were in the state as we where when we arrived. At one point, one of the workers came and asked who drove up from San Diego. He had us put our name on an envelope, and then handed us a smaller envelope. There was $140 in it. Yeah! That will definitely pay for the gas, and then some. None of us were expecting to get anything out of it, so we were pretty delighted.

Finally, I heard my name! I had to scramble to give my iPhone to someone to take a "before" shot of me. Geez....with all of the wait time, you'd think I would have taken care of that before!  I grabbed the bag that had my foobies in it and left the green room.

Before wardrobe/hair/makeup
Getting made up

Another survivor and I made our way down the ramp to wardrobe. They had already decided what we were to wear. There was a rack of clothes with a picture of each person on a hanger with a top already on it. (The pictures were dreadful!) I was a bit dismayed to see a plain grey T-shirt on mine. The other lady was also disappointed. Her top was light pink, a color she did not think suited her.  My grey shirt was actually from the Gap. They added a pink running ribbon on it to make it look more "Komen-y."  I decided to wear the foobies since the plain grey T-shirt tended to the masculine side. It looked too boyish with me being flat. What was worse was the pants. They needed everyone in grey, since black pants made everyone look like they had no legs at all against the black background. She handed me a pair of long sweat pants that turned out to be too baggy. I asked if they had a smaller size, but since we were nearing the end of the wardrobing, there wasn't much choice. Besides, she said they were only going to be shooting from the waist up.
In the end, I was okay with the grey shirt. Pink tends to make me look more flushed, and after makeup, I think they grey was just fine.
Before the photo shoot

Makeup was fun. I just sat there and followed directions. Close your eyes, open them, look at me, look down. Easy enough! I was a bit bummed she didn't try to do anything with my hair. Some of the ladies with longer hair got a neat style job. She just sprayed it a bit and said I was done.

After that, I took a seat on the couch downstairs along with my new survivor friend Michelle. She was in the same situation as me. We hadn't done anything, and by now, some people were completely done and being told they could go home. By now it was around 3 p.m. We were wondering if they weren't going to be doing interviews with us, since it was our understanding that in the afternoon they were going to be doing the moving camera thing. Whatever, I figured. I could do everything and then have it all end up on the cutting room floor. Besides, I had the same "experience" of the day that everyone else had, and nothing could take that away.

Michelle and I were told to go for the photo shoot. We sat on a couch and looked through a binder of photographs that presumably had been done at the studio. Quite an impressive collection! Lots of magazine covers, lots of celebrities had been here doing just what we were about to do.

Pretty soon, I was told to go in. The photographer asked me my name and put it onto his laptop. Then he led me over to the area where he would be taking the pictures.  This part was fun. I didn't have to say anything. He would tell me to look a certain way, cross my arms, smile, etc. One of the hardest things was when he would say "look proud." For that, I just imagined myself beating cancer. Literally, physically punching it in the face. Conquering it and moving on. Take that!

After the photos, I went back and sat on the couch to wait for my turn for video.  By then, another new friend, Nancy, had come down. We sat there and sent friend requests to each other on Facebook while we waited. Nancy wasn't too pleased about her hot pink polo shirt they had her in. (She really did look good, though!)   As we waited, we said "see you later" to another set of new friends-Tom and Jennifer. They were the couple that I had seen in the parking lot. They are newlyweds. She was diagnosed a few weeks before their wedding last Spring. As Tom put it, reception place cards didn't seem so important after that!

Then I was called. I went into the area where there was the camera mounted on a train track.  The wardrobe lady followed me in and tweaked my T-shirt. Sure enough, they weren't going to be asking me for my "story." Oh well.  Two camera guys and the director climbed on the moving contraption. I was told to stand on some tape outlined like feet on the ground and look ahead at an "X" on the curtain in front of me.  I was supposed to look ahead the whole time, but shift my focus from either the "X" ahead of me, or the camera lens as it rolled in front of me. He said we were trying to capture the spirit of the 3-Day. The movement of thousands of people coming together for a cause. As they filmed, he would feed me lines and have me repeat them. He would have me say things in different voice tones. Soft, louder, to almost shouting. Some of the lines were:  "Together we will end breast cancer forever";  "Join us" "It's a movement of thousands" "Join us so no one has to go through what I went through." "What I went through." It really kind of fun, but sometimes I had to fight off smiling. After all, I was supposed to be this tough, driven person.

Pretty soon, it was over. I was probably doing it for about 10 minutes. I got hugs from the director and a lady from Komen that organized it all and was told I could go home. I went back into the waiting area, changed back into my own pants (they let us keep the tops), and said "see you later" to everyone. Most everyone there will be walking in San Diego next month.

I found my car, which looked fabulous. I went back inside and gave the lady at the reception desk money for the car detailer. I later felt bad that I didn't give him a huge tip. $20 to detail a van is a gift. But I was stressed about the traffic getting home and didn't think about it.  That guy blessed me, to be sure. He did his good deed for the day.

The commercials are supposed to start airing on January 1. They will run on TV as well as be used for the promotional material on the 3-Day website. It will be interesting to see how they put it all together.  One guy told us they would send us the ad before it ran. I can't wait to see it. It will be even more impacting to me, since now I know so many of the personal stories of the women who are in the ads.  I sure hope they leave a snippet of me in. But even if they don't, it is going to be good because the cast was an amazing set of people.

1 comment:

  1. Super cool! Look forward to seeing the commercial.