Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Robin Maynard - Harris


In 2005 Robin Maynard-Harris's mom, Libby, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Both of Robin's grand parents were also diagnosed with breast cancer. They had mastectomies, chemo and then lived really long lives. So they thought, "OK Lets do this." Her mom had a mastectomy, chemo and then eight months later as they were finishing up treatments,the doctors saw a small spot that they were concerned about and they wanted to do a 4 month checkup. When they returned they said it looked like the spot had grown on her lungs.

Robin took her mom to Moffit Cancer Center for a second opinion. She paid more attention to what the doctor was doing rather than what he was saying. He said, "Do the things you want to do." Robin said, "Can we talk about this for a second? What kind of time frame are we talking about here? " Her mom wasn't concerned as much about a time frame. Robin insisted, "Well I am, so you can leave the room or do you want us to leave?" The doctor said to her mom, "On average a woman in your condition can live a long time." Robin said, "A long time for an oncologist and a long time for a daughter are probably vastly different." He said, "3 to 5 years." Her mom joked, "Well good, there is nothing average about me." Robin was devastated by the 3 to 5 years.

On the drive back from the doctors Robin asked her mom what she wanted to do with the time she had. Libby wanted to go on a cruise to Alaska. Her mom lost her job at the American Cancer Society  do to "Inabilities to fulfill her duties due to cancer treatments." That is a harsh and angering irony. Robin was justifiably angry about the American Cancer Society. Her mom said to her, "I taught you how to live and now I am going to teach you how to die. You can't be so angry.  You need to do something positive." Libby died just 6 weeks after the 4 month check up. She never got to take that trip to Alaska. Right before she passed, she insisted that Robin get a mammogram. They found an early stage of cancer and she had a lumpectomy the same year. Her mom had saved her life.

Robin founded Libby's Legacy right away. The goal of the organization was to send stage 4 cancer patients on that trip to Alaska and to advocate for them when they lost their jobs which would mean no insurance. In 1983 when they moved to Florida, Robin got in a mini bike accident, and almost lost her leg. Her mom said she could no longer ride. Before Libby passed, Robin said, "You know mom, life is short." Libby relented and said "You can get your scooter or motorcycle." So, Robin got 2 Vespas and a Harley Davidson. To raise money for Libby's Legacy she started an event called Scooters for Hooters which raises money for Libby's Legacy which has started giving mammograms as well. In 2008 about 53 services were given away along with 1 cruise. In 2009 125 services were given and they diagnosed their first patient. Her name was Zenaida.

Zenaida worked for Orange County as a temp and she made too much for medicaid and not enough for insurance. Robin took her all over and couldn't get her help. She was blown away. She had 19 pages of notes. She called the American Cancer Society and they did nothing. She went to the hospital and they said, "You know we can't." She called  all over and couldn't get help. After 3 months of not succeeding, she was sitting at her desk at the sheriffs office and realized that this was a sign that she needed to do more to bring about change. She resigned, handing in her two months notice. Her last day was the day Zenaida had her double mastectomy. Now 9 years later Zenaida is a regular volunteer for Libby's Legacy.

The Women's Center of Radiology is just a block from Pulse. They have given away over 7000 breast health services where 141 women and 1 man were diagnosed. 189 children have a mom because she doesn't have hers. !0 cruises have been booked to Alaska. Scooter for Hooters has raised almost a million dollars in 10 years. They are starting a new event called Treasure Your Chest which will be a scavenger hunt on Wall Street. Another event will be called Florida Squeeze Um. They do fun things that involve drinking and fun along the way. The 10th Scooters for Hooters fundraiser had to be canceled in the wake of Pulse. After the shooting the Women's Center had to close down for 10 days because Orange Avenue was shut down for all the FBI vehicles as they  processed the scene.

Pulse used to do fundraisers for Libby's Legacy. They did a poker tournament there. Robin danced there. Had the shooting happened 10 or even 5 years earlier, it could have been her or her friends or anybody she knows. The beauty of Pulse was that everyone was welcome. One of Robin's best friends and all her sorority sisters who are straight as can be, were there the Friday night before the shooting. Woman can dance and there is no one hitting on you. It was an open club for everyone. It was such an open and loving club, not just for men, or women or Latins. It was all inclusive.


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