Oh, the Stories They Tell
About Breast Cancer
By Gretchen Althoff Snyder
The Rye Historical Society, in partnership with Soul Ryeders and their Tie the Town Pink campaign, is recording the oral histories of local residents who have been or are currently affected by breast cancer. Whether you are a survivor, a family member who has suffered, or have a loved one whose life was cut short by this terrible disease, they want to hear your stories.
Throughout the month of October (which coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month), Executive Director Sheri Jordan is available to take oral histories from those residents who have been impacted by breast cancer, then transcribe those histories and preserve them in our archives. This new initiative goes hand in hand with the Historical Society’s increased efforts to document not only the past, but also a living, breathing, evolving history as it occurs right here in Rye.
Jordan, a 24-year breast cancer survivor, has been a longtime supporter of Soul Ryeders and wanted to find a way to document the stories of those who have battled the disease. When Jordan was fighting breast cancer, there were organizations that raised money for a cure, but none that provided the unique practical and emotional support that Soul Ryeders so generously provides to our community.
During a conversation with Museum Educator Akeyla Todd, the idea to record survivors’ stories was born. Unlike traditional oral histories, where a series of specific questions is asked, these histories are more informal and allow the storyteller to share their personal experiences with breast cancer in a way that is comfortable for them. Jordan plans to offer the option of videotaping these histories and will seek the help of RyeTV in that regard. With permission from participants, a future documentary film could become a reality as well.
“Generations from now, people will understand from our detailed, recorded histories the way our community was impacted by this terrible disease,” says Jordan.
Susan Janart, a longtime member of Soul Ryeders and founder of the Tie the Town Pink Campaign, believes the Society’s oral history initiative is a natural extension of Soul Ryeders’ mission to provide much-needed support for those battling breast cancer. By tying pink ribbons all over Rye, Janart adds, the entire community is saying “we are here to support you – we are all tied together in this fight and we are stronger because of it.” Likewise, by taking oral histories of those affected by the disease, says Jordan, we can continue to show our unwavering support and emphasize the importance of sharing these stories not only now, but well into the future.
The Rye Historical Society hopes you will participate in this new program to honor all those who have fought so hard against breast cancer. Call 967-7588 and schedule a time to share your stories.