I was flat on my back at the Pink House for a solid hour yesterday. A bag of sand was anchoring my hips and some zen music was emanating from a phone. My one classmate in this restorative yoga session was next to me, deep into her 30-minute savasana, or resting pose.
I don’t belong here just yet — I’ll be teaching free yoga classes in this space during the summer.
The people who do belong here at the Pink House, home of Carolina Breast Friends, are part of what they call “a sorority you never wanted to join.” The people who do belong here are breast cancer survivors at every stage, from diagnosis, to treatment, to recovery. They treat the Pink House, which is pink in spirit rather than facade, as a second home where they can share their stories of their cancer battle, as well as inspiration along their journey.
In April alone, the Pink House received 28 new survivors, whether they arrived for a weekly yoga or Reiki class, for a scrapbooking session, to pick out a free wig or breast prosthesis, or to join a wellness meeting with a featured speaker on a topic like breast reconstruction. There’s even a young survivors group of women under the age of 45 who gather the first Thursday of every month to cover topics from co-survivorship with children to reproductive issues.
The house has a buffet of programs on its calendar, as Krista Barry, Director of Programming & Volunteer Management, puts it. And the organization has no tie to a particular religion or hospital, although it stands mere blocks from Carolinas Medical Center Myers Park.
“We stand alone and we serve our survivors,” she said.
All it takes is a walk through the front door for a breast cancer survivor to see that she’s not alone in this city — walls on the first and second floors are lined with black and white photos of other survivors.
A shelf in the dining room (aka the Library & Computer Research Center for print and electronic resources pertaining to breast cancer) carries Inspiration Jars for women walking in the doors for the first time. The jars are filled with slips of paper featuring inspirational quotations and the name, email address and diagnosis year of a breast cancer survivor who is ready to act as a mentor.
Carolina Breast Friends was the vision of Kristy Adams-Ebel, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 32. She established the nonprofit in 2003 to unite women in all stages of breast cancer survival, three years before losing her own battle to the disease.
The Pink House, formerly the Dunaway house, was purchased in 2010 to house the nonprofit.
And the butterfly symbol is everywhere — on coasters, on the wallpaper in the first floor powder room, on the sign out front, on their special cocktail recipe on the kitchen counter.
It’s a symbol of rebirth, Krista told me. It’s a symbol of nerve-wracking transformation, starting in one form and evolving into something stronger. Something beautiful.
Carolina Breast Friends Pink House: 1607 E. Morehead St.
Photos: Katie Toussaint