Frannie McBrian, Walking in celebration of her mother, Betsy Hetzler
Frannie McBrian first walked in Runway for Recovery as a 17-year old. She walked for her mother, Betsy Hetzler, and Betsy’s mother, Frannie’s grandmother and namesake, Sarah “Sally,” and the brave battle the two women went through. Luckily, Betsy will be walking again this year as a survivor, but both will be walking in remembrance of Sally who sadly lost her life to breast cancer. Fast forward nine years and Frannie, 26, is walking, again in the 10th year of Runway for Recovery. This time, it will still be for her mom and grandmother, but Frannie has also been dealing with an equally scary and unfamiliar situation of her own.
This past January, at the age of 25, Frannie and her boyfriend found a lump in her breast and ever since has been going through a battle for answers in hopes of making an informed decision. Her two biopsies have been negative, though the first reading inconclusive. The last 8 months has been chalk full of unknowns, inconclusive findings, and a slew of emotions. While as of now there is NO cancer, which is the best possible outcome, Frannie’s family background and high-risk label have presented themselves much earlier than anticipated.
Frannie says “Though it’s not cancer for now, this journey has brought with it a new, unexpected emotional battle ; a battle I always knew I may come to fight one day, but I never expected it to come so early – at such a young age. As a child, I grew up watching my mother fight cancer. Flashbulb memories take me back: crockpot meals brought to us by neighbors, sitting warm on the front porch ; my father, brother, and I nestled in the big bed she spent most of her time in, reading stories and drinking tea ; hospital gowns ; the smell of baby powder. To this day, I can almost taste the fear of death upon my tongue. I did not know if my mother was going to make it. Though I could not fully comprehend what a “stage” was and I could not speak the language of doctors, I knew that what I felt was heavy.
This January, I relived those memories again, though this time, I sat myself down in my mother’s bed and thought of what the future held for me. But really, this young? It can’t be. I knew I stood a good chance of ONE DAY, but never NOW. A roller coaster ride it has been, quite certainly, but one that has also taught me lessons I cherish and hold close, as I learn how to navigate the waters. I would be HONORED to share a snippet of my personal background, and now experience, facing breast cancer and its reach. Every person who will be in that room for the show has a strong soul and a brave heart. I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to share the stage with such inspirational individuals. Thank you so very, very much.”
“I am not currently diagnosed with cancer, but it’s not as black and white as that in my case. The what ifs and the looming “when will I be told that ‘this time, it’s cancer’?” have now become familiar passengers. They don’t consume me, but I find myself drifting back to these questions. The uncertainty is the most difficult piece for me.”
Tomorrow night, Frannie will take the stage, on her 1-year anniversary with her boyfriend who “really has been my strength when I’ve lost it temporarily through all of this, and I don’t know what I would have done without his support. He’ll be up there in the front row, supporting me (and EVERYONE) just as he has since I first went to have the lump looked at back in January.”
There are so many women with Frannie’s story. Young girls as well.
Her participation in Runway as a young girl and now as a 26 year old who has gone through this is the reason why we want to create a network for young women.
We can’t wait to cheer Frannie and her fellow models on tomorrow night and are honored to have such a brave, inspirational, and strong young woman with us.