Last month, the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate family lost a dear friend, Barbara Zeid. With our June Pink Ribbon of the Month, we celebrate Barbara’s life by sharing her legacy with all of you. Like our namesake Susan G. Komen, Barbara continues to be a survivor in this world, for she has touched and helped save thousands of lives through her twenty-one year relationship with Komen.
So many words can be used to capture the very special role Barbara played in the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate family. Supporter. Philanthropist. Advocate. Activist. Sister. Visionary. However, there is one that stands out above them all: survivor
Barbara was a survivor of breast cancer, but she was also a survivor in life – and she embraced every challenge that came her way as fuel for her activism in the breast cancer movement. While others may have stepped back and said, ‘I can’t. I have my own troubles to worry about. You’ll have to find someone else.’, when it came to our cause, Barbara always said, ‘I will. We can. We are all one family in this fight.’
The Affiliate’s journey with Barbara started at the very beginning – twenty-one years ago when a handful of people set out to organize the first Komen Race for the Cure in Philadelphia. Barbara was a true visionary, not willing to settle for just holding an event, but believing in the Race as something much more. She embraced the Race as the start of a movement through which women would find strength, families would find comfort, and communities would find confidence that our world no longer had to be ruled by breast cancer.
A nurse at Albert Einstein, and raising a family on her own, in those early years, Barbara still found time to come into our offices every day of the week, and often on weekends. At times, struggling to make ends meet, she never accepted a penny of pay, and frequently donated to the cause. From typing (yes, on an actual typewriter!), to stuffing envelopes, to ‘taking to the streets’ to help promote the Race, in Barbara’s eyes, every task was a critical one – and nothing was beyond her willingness. As the Race and The Affiliate grew, so did Barbara’s energy for our work. However, even as tremendous as her ardor was, even that was far outpaced by her extraordinary love for the women – past present and future – for whom we pursued the cures. Her daughter, Lori, summarizes it beautifully:
“Mom loved family and dedicated herself to charitable causes in a true Florence Nightingale manner… she always touched the lives of others in positive ways without ever asking for, or expecting, a thing in return.”
That love – unconditional, unceasing, uninhibited by any challenge – is the legacy left to us by Barbara Zeid. Here, we share just one page from a full story of her life of giving back, making a difference, and both thinking and doing to revolutionize our community’s breast cancer movement. In doing so, we hope all who read this can embrace the lessons Barbara taught us, and in some way – big or small – honor her by perpetuating her spirit in our own activism.
It was clear when facing hardship in her own life, Barbara found comfort in Susan G. Komen for the Cure… in empowering others to overcome their own challenges. In doing so, Barbara provided comfort and shelter for thousands against the darkness of breast cancer. The Affiliate is forever grateful that Barbara’s light will continue to shine on our mission and in our lives.
Beloved mother and grandmother, Barbara is fondly remembered by her daughter, Lori, her husband, David, and their children Marc and Jason; and by her son, Randy, his wife, Tracey, and their children, Regan and Rhett. In her memory, Barbara’s children share the following special message, which she left to them.
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when the day is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways.
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like to the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun,
of happy memories that I leave when life is done.