Jean Mackie has often felt powerless in the face of breast cancer. She has witnessed the disease take root in many friends and five years ago she never would have imagined it would take the life of her friend Racheal (for whom Runway, SoCal began). When speaking about Rachael, Jean lights up saying, “Rachael was just plain fun. The world was robbed. She was kicking it and then suddenly, her life was done.”
Indeed Rachael’s untimely death was compounded when another of Jean’s closest friends faced her own breast cancer battle. Both Rachael and her boyfriend help to put on Music Mends Minds, which is a sing along in LA for people suffering from Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Parkinson’s. Jean notes they could never pull it off without her “sisters,” Myra and Helene. Myra herself is a breast cancer survivor and Helene faced her own battle, fraught with complications, during lockdown.
For Jean, the number of women she knows facing breast cancer feels astounding. 18 years sober from alcoholism (“my recovery is first and foremost what I am most grateful for”), a skin cancer survivor and having donated a kidney last year, Jean marvels at how far medicine has come and what it is capable of, but she is emotional when she expresses frustration at how “the big C” continues to ravage lives. She jokes that her skin cancer was direct result of “me baking my a** on my NYC rooftop for years,” but breast cancer seems to hit those who are seemingly healthy and take care of themselves.
The entirety of it seems unfair, but it encourages Jean to take part in anything she can to honor Rachael and those who are facing the unimaginable battle: “anything I can do to support those going through this is what I’ll do.”