Positive thinking is a good fit
Two weeks ago on a sunny Saturday morning, October 11, in the midst of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jacqueline Ann Pimentel of Edgartown tried on a $3,995 Ralph Lauren wedding gown. It fit perfectly.
In a promotional Cinderella-style give-away, Lisa Pyden and Meaghan Esposito, owners of Tulle, the Edgartown bridal boutique in Nevin Square, offered to give the designer gown to the first woman it fit, and Ms. Pimentel was the first person to walk in the door, at 10:10 am.
As an emotional Ms. Pimentel put on the Ralph Lauren dress and the zipper glided effortlessly, her friend Carol Koser expressed what a special blessing the day was. "This is very generous. Everything is falling into place for this lady. Today is her day."
The 58-year-old Ms. Pimentel had just finished her second week of chemotherapy for a five-centimeter tumor in her breast. It was 20 years ago that she first dealt successfully with breast cancer.
Photos by Tamar Russell
This past August Ms. Pimentel went to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston for her annual exam. The radiologist along with her oncologist, Dr. Steve Come, reported she was fine. No change. But she felt a change, similar to the feelings she had experienced 20 years ago, so an MRI and ultrasound were ordered.
"I knew enough not to face it alone," Ms. Pimentel said. "I invited Nancy, my funniest girlfriend, to come with me. She cracked jokes, cried with me, and hugged me whenever I needed it," she says.
It was a good decision, because when the ultrasound results were presented, it was discovered that there was an "area of interest," and a biopsy was taken.
"Dr. Come told me to relax, and that a mass didn't always mean cancer. He calmed me right down. I then said to Nancy that I was ready for a magic carpet ride - let the gifts begin," an expression that demonstrates Ms. Pimentel's positive attitude.
But there were cancer cells in the tumor and the lymph nodes. "I felt myself enter into the valley, but the wagons circled quickly," Ms. Pimentel said. Her doctor pulled together a team that wanted to see her that same week. Chemotherapy was started to shrink the tumor's size.
When Ms. Pimentel told the doctors that she couldn't start treatment yet because she had planned a trip to Le Tignet, France, she recalls, "My doctor said he wanted to renegotiate the trip. He said, 'I want you to go to France for the rest of your life, not just for two weeks.' I asked him how this had happened since I had a good healthy routine and a great diet. I then decided to name the tumor the 'Wicked Witch of the Breast,'" she says with a laugh.
Ms. Pimentel made an even more concerted effort to remain positive. She hired Ms. Black, a wellness coach from her networking group, Women on Fire, and began to view the experience as an adventure. She began massage, Reiki, one-hour daily meditation, and started a white light project.
Many of these things she had practiced before. However, she views this new challenge as a "gift that she can use as an educational tool to share with others. The whole experience for her is like a college, a place to learn new things, including how to wrap scarves into turbans to cover her now bald head. She even plans to start a foundation for prevention when the ordeal is past.
Ms. Pimentel also believes in the power of manifestation - if one puts out their intention into the universe and works toward a goal, positive things will happen. This is how the wedding gown saga began.
She decided in June that she wanted to be married when this is over. "I started to cut out pictures of dresses that I liked and went to Tulle to find a dress. I found my dress. Then I got negative, and I thought, 'Who wants to marry someone bald from chemo? It will never happen.' So the Friday before the give-away I decided to amp up my request to the universe. I had seen the invitation on the door, but thought nothing of it. Saturday I dressed up and went to put a deposit on the dress I had chosen. Lisa suggested I try on the give-away dress and I won!
"The journey has been exciting. You have to be positive," says Ms. Pimentel. "I was in such a fairy tale on Saturday. When this is all over, it is my intention to get married."
"It is better than if some young girl had come in [and won the dress], saying... I'm getting married in June," Ms. Pyden says. It is a comment both Tulle owners confirmed in their online blog: "We are just so blown away, to have the outcome of this contest turn out this way... just as much a blessing to us, to have met her and experienced her inspiration...."