EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It was a gathering of college classmates and friends from the old neighborhood.
But the backyard party was also part of one woman’s effort to help those fighting a familiar battle.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 30 years old and seven months pregnant,” said Lara MacGregor, the party’s guest of honor.
Along the way, MacGregor found hope in one small gesture.
“A friend of a friend sent me a box of scarves and a note that said ‘you can do this,’” McGregor said.
“I wore them throughout my treatment, and when I was finished, I asked her if I could get her address to send them back. She said just find someone else that could use them and I gave them to a young woman I had met from Pittsburgh.”
But she didn’t stop there.
MacGregor, a Whitehall native and Hope College graduate, found a new mission in life.
“I started Hope Scarves as a way to create that opportunity for other people facing cancer,” MacGregor, who now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, said.
Seven years later, Hope Scarves have been shared with over 13,000 people in every state and 24 countries.
But it’s about more than providing a piece of comforting headwear.
“Every Hope Scarf carries a story from someone else who has faced cancer,” she said. “Their words of encouragement and lessons they’ve learned —they want to pass that on to someone else. That’s what makes a Hope Scarves so special.”
The organization hosted its first Michigan Colors of Courage fundraiser in East Grand Rapids.
The goal of the Saturday night event was to raise $50,000 to provide 350 Hope Scarves and help fund the Hope Scarves Metastatic Breast Cancer Research Fund.
Earlier in the week, scarves were delivered to both the Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center and Gilda’s Club in Grand Rapids.
“I can’t change the fact that I have cancer, but I can control the way I react,” she said.
She chose joy over fear.
“And making an impact over the worry and the anxiety that living with stage 4 breast cancer brings,” MacGregor said. “We’re choosing love and friendship.”