In Memory of Randi

by

We lost a giant to cancer this week.

Never mind that she was 5-foot-nothing and probably didn?t break 100 pounds soaking wet—make no mistake, when Randi Rosenberg strode into a room on those trademark high heels, she OWNED it.

Randi earned her stripes in cancer advocacy as one of the founders of the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), a groundbreaking organization founded in 1998 to advance research and focus attention on the unique aspects of breast cancer in women under 40?women like her, who had been told that they were ?too young? for a mammogram. Too young for breast cancer. Until, of course, they weren?t.

I met Randi in 2004 at the first brainstorming meeting for what was to become the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance?another groundbreaking organization built around the collaboration of many organizations working on behalf of all young adults with cancer. At dinner the first night, the petite brunette with the million-watt smile walked over and introduced herself. ?Randi Rosenberg,? she said, extending her hand for a confident shake, and engaging me in conversation about our babies. I couldn?t resist her—no one could.

I?m sure Randi had no intention of getting sucked into the grueling work of building another advocacy group from the ground up. After years of tireless leadership, she had moved into a more advisory role at YSC. She was concentrating on her career as a high-powered conference planner and as mom to daughter Alexandra. She had just come to offer advice based on her experience and knowledge.

But, then again, I know she was a sucker for a good challenge.

The next few years passed at lightning speed. As Alliance steering committee members, we conspired and collaborated as the organization progressed. I was running my own non-profit, Planet Cancer, and she was growing her own business, too. We commiserated about being entrepreneurs and working moms, about how to balance changing the world with changing diapers, and how neither of us wanted to give up either of those things.

One day I learned that Randi was a rabid fan of The Who; in particular, of Roger Daltrey. She was also an accomplished guitar player, which I again discovered by accident, as she riffed in my living room one night in Austin. It made sense, really. The advocate and businesswoman had a rock-and-roll heart. That extra charisma, the thing that made people forget her small stature and remember her as a force of nature?that was Randi channeling her inner rock star.

In 2006, she was presiding over the first official meeting of the newly-minted Alliance as its first Advocacy co-chair when she broke the news to me. ?It?s back,? she said. ?Stage 4.?Shortly thereafter, she took the stage to open the meeting and announced her recurrence to the entire room. Not for dramatic effect, or for?God forbid?sympathy, but to illustrate how personal the fight was for her, and how deadly the impact of disregarding cancer in young adults could be.

That was just how she rolled. And you better believe that we all got down to work, and many of us have not let up since. How could we? She didn?t. Not then, and not in the years since.

Until Monday.

We lost a giant this week, and Randi?s absence leaves a gaping void. But in her honor, we can and will continue to fight this terrible disease that has robbed too many of us.

The road is not always clear. But all I have to do is think of Randi and, in the words of her favorite band, ?I can see for miles and miles and miles??

Let?s get going.

38 thoughts on “In Memory of Randi”

  1. Bill Peary says:

    Wow..Tough to read..Thank you for telling us about Randi.

  2. Kerrie says:

    Randi is an inspiration to us all. I hope she got to watch the Who at half-time last Sunday. Thank you for sharing your friend with us.

  3. Eric Lepping says:

    I’d been trying to figure out what group to dedicate my 2010 triathlons to. Since I work on the Tour de Pink with the YSC they were high on my list. The loss of Randi yesterday, coupled with the loss of another friend’s wife this past fall, sealed the deal. Every swim stroke, every turn of the pedals, and every stride will be for the YSC. I’m setting up an Active Giving account to raise funds for the YSC.
    When I’m suffering in training or racing I’ll think of those lost, those saved, and those yet to be diagnosed. Some of our brave women on the Tour de Pink wear shirts saying, “You think pedaling 220 miles in 3 day is hard? Try chemo!” I’ll keep this in mind when training and racing is hard. I won’t be facing chemotherapy, I won’t be facing multiple surgeries, I’ll have a healthy wife at home.
    Everyone fight on! Find a way to contribute to the fight!
    I wrote this post after getting the news about Randi yesterday> http://bit.ly/bRN2l2
    We can all contribute to the fight! Get out there and fight this battle. Some day we’ll win!

  4. Thank you Heidi and thank you LAF/YAA. Everything about this is so perfect. We are still so much in our grief that we can’t even see straight to get our own statement out other that on our bulletin boards to our members…and i guess that’s appropriate because that’s what matters at the moment. Supporting each other and letting others carry the load for the moment. We will be there for you when you need us.
    Much love and thanks again…
    ~clux

  5. Anne Chen says:

    Got goose bumps when reading this. Thank you for sharing Randi´s story.

  6. Lee Rosenberg says:

    On behalf of my family, thank you all for the kind words about my sister, Randi. And while she was too tired to watch The Who’s Super Bowl halftime show, I played it for her this past Sunday night on my iPhone. So she at least got to hear one last Who concert.

  7. Carl Larson says:

    she is off to bigger and better things

  8. Alane says:

    Those who know me might be shocked to learn that I am speechless at Randi’s death. (I am not often speechless.) Literally if it had not been for her appearance on Oprah so many years ago, I would not have become active in the YSC. It was that show that spurred me and two other survivors to believe that we needed to start a YSC affiliate here in our hometown. I have met Randi many times since that beginning, at conferences, and meetings, but never got up the courage to tell her how much all she had done for me had truly saved me; changed my life from being an angry “too young for cancer survivor” into an activist, someone given the power to use what happened to me to find meaning in it, and hopefully share that meaning with the rest of the world. Randi glowed. She was cool. She had fire, conviction, and a generous spirit. I wish I had known her better. Thank you for writing this. I’m going to rock to the Who today in her honor.

  9. skippy says:

    Another lost advocate means we all need to redouble ou efforts! Not good enough to go with the flow anymore we must win and continue fighting as Cancer will bite your ass!
    Those in remission need to be vigilant and those in treatment need our help!
    Retweet this to all http://bit.ly/bRN2l2 NOW!

  10. Joanne says:

    I worked with Randi for over 18 years in the direct marketing world and Heidi you couldn’t of said it better – Randi was always up for any challenge, and that is how she rolled. Nothing could stop her and despite what she was going through…she never gave up her hard worth ethic and her strive to do her best. She was an inspiration to me on a professional and personal level….and Randi always lived her life to the fullest. RIP Randi, and look out world…if Alexandra is anything like her mommy….we have a smart wonderful lady coming our way

  11. Alane says:

    I need to make the correction to my above comment. It was not Randi who was on the Oprah Winfrey show; it was Roberta Levy Schwartz. Still, the sentiment and gratitude expressed in my comment remains the same. Sorry for the confusion.

  12. Courtney says:

    I am still crying over the loss of Randi. I met her several years ago at a YSC conference and the last time I remember seeing her (again, at a YSC conference) was with her wonderful husband and her beautiful daughter. Randi was just beaming and so happy to show off her family. Words cannot express my sorrow. Her legacy will always live on through the amazing work she has done for young people with cancer. Hugs and prayers for her family. Randi may you rest in peace.
    Courtney
    Pink Wings

  13. Facebook User says:

    the hard part about reading this is that she was my naighbor!!! and we all loved her so much and i always loved to comeout of my house when i would hear her and Alex in the hallways.
    she will be missed dearly!!!

  14. Facebook User says:

    A force of nature . . . never was this term more aptly used than to describe Randi. She was a real powerhouse, and a truly wonderful person to know. My only regret is not knowing her better. Randi, you will be missed, but I will take this as an opportunity to do what you would do. Advocate, educate, and turn it into a positive. Thank you for your wisdom.

  15. Ginny Mason says:

    I met Randi at a breast cancer conference years ago and was amazed by her energy and dedication. Thanks to her and others at YSC, we have been collaborating in providing information and support to young women diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. Randi’s passing reminds us why we do this work….in hopes that some day breast cancer won’t be a threat and we’ll be out of a job. Thanks Randi…you’ve left an amazing legacy.

  16. Susan Rosenberg says:

    I’m both proud and humbled to call Randi my cousin. She left the world a better place than she found it, touching so many lives along the way. Who knew that little pipsqueak, happy to share her room with me when I visited from college, would become the remarkable woman she grew up to be and leave such a legacy behind.

    We love you, Randi, and we miss you already.

  17. Jere Carpentier says:

    Heidi and family, I did not know Randi until reading your story. Your heartfelt story is helping many of us to know of her and her work. I am so sorry for your loss and of someone you so eloquently describe as a “giant”. That is the vision I am left with. We need more giants.

  18. What a really fantastic tribute and piece of writing.

    Thank you.

  19. Matt Turse says:

    I never met Randi however I grieve her loss. As a young man diagnosed with cancer at the age of 30, I have made it 10 years and every day a battle. I know Randi fought her butt off and is still a “survivor” in my mind. Lets find the cure to this misery that claims lives that it shouldnt be allowed to claim.
    Randi’s family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  20. The impact she had sounds amazing…and will continue to inspire many, including myself… my thoughts are with her family and friends.

  21. Rob Rosenberg says:

    Just back from the funeral service for her, such wonderful things said, and all true.
    She was amazing, and helped me with my own cancer bout, when i needed it.
    The world will miss her spirit and all the good she did.
    Miss you and love you, cousin.

  22. Guido & Masako Amati says:

    We have no words to express our sorrow….she is in our hearts.

  23. Eric Faber says:

    To those reading this. please consider helping to remember Randi and your love ones lost to this horrible disease and make a difference by riding the 2010 Hershey’s Tour de Pink co-founded founded in 2004 by Randi’s partner Matt Purdue and cancer survivor Lisa Frank. A four day tour from Hersey, PA to NYC and raises money for the YSC (www.youngsurvival.org) for which Randi was an original founder and former president on top of her work for Livestrong.

    Info on 2009 Tour de Pink is here and the info for 2010 will be coming soon.

    http://www.youngsurvival.org/tour_de_pink/index.html

  24. Sue Taggart says:

    Randi was a rare soul, one who could inspire and lead with a heart full of love and compassion. Leaving her mark as she leaves this life – only the good die young – her passion for life will be her indelible memory. Rest in peace Randi – just raise a little hell in heaven, the world needs more feisty angels…..

  25. when i met randi at YAA i was blown away by her sparkly, bright, beautiful energy…
    and when she shared her recurrence with the group i was blown away by her strength, courage and openness…
    she truly made a difference on this earth and in the lives of many.
    that is inspiration.
    rest in peace, grrrrrlfriend.

  26. Thank you, Randi, for the tremendous inspiration as we continue to rise up in the fight against young adults cancer. You will be missed, but never forgotten. God bless,

  27. Carol Sienche says:

    I met Randi at a ?Closing the Gap? meeting. It brought together the smartest, most passionate, dedicated young people you could ever imagine — to make a plan to help other young people with cancer. So, of course Randi was there. And of course I met her! She was magnetic and just plain fun; she drew me in. Randi got us to laugh and think at the same time… showed us what purposeful living looks likes. Her stories were so real and grounded that I can still remember the details.

    As we caught up at conferences over the years, I always loved hearing about her daughter and family ? she was so passionate about Alexandra. When she told us that cancer has returned, I was frozen in time. But not Randi — she kept going and I listened to this young woman move forward and talk with such strength and energy. There was always the enthusiasm, about life, where she was going, and what she was doing with and for others. It really was always about others for her…

    Now, wow? I hold my breath. Then I close my eyes and she?s right here with her ?can do? spirit and contagious energy? encouraging me on. So I do what mortals do and thank God that I had the chance to have walked a few steps with such a spirit as Randi?s. She?s just an angel that left the party ahead of us, that?s all!

  28. tom obryan says:

    glad i got to read about randi she will be a lottery pick at gods gate being the fighter she is my daughter is 41 and has been fighting hodgins cancer for several years and like randi she never complains i have cll and have been lucky so far cancer sucks and i pray god for a cure soon

  29. Bill Ostar says:

    Lee,
    It was a beautiful post, and poem and so descriptive of who Randi was as a person. Am sure her accomplishments will be remembered by many. My condolences to you, your family and mother on her loss.

  30. Laurie Logan says:

    A friend of mine just told me via email about Randi. I am, like everyone…shocked. Randi was a complete inspiration to me. She was a true professional in an office setting and knew how to have a good time like the time we shared a house in Fire Island! She was so much fun. When I met her at m first “real” job on Long Island, I used to go home and talk to my family about her. I felt as if she knew more about a business than the folks running the company. She used to have a little saing posted on the wall to her cube…”if you can’t be good, then be careful.” We used to laugh about that all the time. When she took a position in the city for a direct marketing conference company ( I too am a direct marketer)she called me to tell me about working in the city and how I would like it. She inspired me and before I knew it, I was on the LIRR…since 1989! We both went to another company together after that. I followed her lead…she was great! I ALWAYS remember and again, I used to joke with her , how she would answer her phone. You could hear silence in the office and then a striking, strong, authoritative voice saying, RANDI ROSENBERG as she would answer her call. That is how I always greeted her…Hi RANDI ROSENBERG. She was just a dynamic person and I am sure she was a spectacular mom as well. She used to call me REDSTA ( I have red hair) and that too always brought laughs. As life went on, we all take different paths so at times I lost touch with her but like so man that are dear to us, their names come up from time to time. I actually asked my friend who told me about Randi’s passing a question back in the late fall. It was a direct marketing question and he told me that I should “ask Randi.” We all went to Randi. I am so sad this rainy morning, very sad. My memories of her will help me continue and as much as she helped make me a stronger person in a professional lfe, I would also like to pass those strong traits I learned from her down to my daughter one day. Thank you. Laurie

  31. david levenstein says:

    i am an old friend of Randi, actually more than a friend. we dated on and off many many years ago and i have thought of her many times and my memories of her are filled with love. we met when she was still in college at cw post. she was a cocktail hostess and i was the caterer at a temple on long island. any one reading this and knew randi during that time knows who i am and how she and i felt about one another.. “the one who got away” even though years passed by and we found love with other people, i always thought of her..that is just a small impact of what she meant to me…and this is years before cancer. i am home today and i was curious about w hat she is doing and googled her and found this article…i am in shock and sad. i am lucky that to have known her and will always love her..and she always knew

  32. Donne Kampel says:

    I just read about dear Randi’s death. Randi was a wonderful person who, along with her husband Matt and daughter Alexandra, had a very special relationship with my parents, Kate and Hy. Randi and my mom shared a special bond and when Mom died in October of 2008, Randi and Matt stood by our side at the funeral and said very touching things. Randi, Matt, and Alexandra even visited my father at his nursing home, visits he will never ever forget.

    I am very sad for Matt and Alexandra and for us all who lost a wonderful individual. But in my prayers, I believe that Randi is now in heaven with my mother, sharing stories and laughing again. This thought helps to heal my heart a little bit.

    Donne

  33. Beth Heller says:

    I had the distinct pleasure of taking Randi’s marketing class at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional studies in May 2009. Though I only knew her briefly, I am truly saddened to hear of her loss these many months later. Randi had undeniable passion for her profession, cancer advocacy and life. My heart goes out to her family, friends and especially her little girl, Alexandra.

  34. Robert Antidormi says:

    I had the opportunity to know Randi during her brief work stay in Toronto and subsequently in Manhattan over 17 years ago. I have, only just days ago, been made aware of her passing and have been moved by her inspiring and dedicated campaign for the past 12 years.
    On behalf of my family, our sincerest condolences to her entire family and all of her friends. It is amazing how we are shaped by the blessing of people who enter our lives.
    In memory of Randi, I have written these humble words below:

    Miracle of Reunion
    Sea breeze feathers the wild mare?s raven hair.
    White tides unfurl all remembrance the azure abyss endures.
    Eclipsed moon reveals all gathered footprints upon the ancient shore.
    As waves return to their place of heart to gaze upon the miracle of reunion, –
    We remain the current in the hold of your embrace.

    August 24, 2010
    Robert Antidormi, Toronto

  35. Rose says:

    How sad I am to read about Randi, I came across this information by chance and cried when I read that she died. I knew and worked for her and her family as Alexandra first baby nurse/baby sitter. And even though we have not spoken since I left it broke my heart to hear that she died.
    Words cannot express how sorry I am to Matt and little lady Jane that was my name for Alexandra, I am sure she is growing up to be just as beautiful as I remembered her.
    I will keep you both in my thoughts and prayers.

  36. Andrew says:

    RIP my friend and loml, not a day goes by without me thinking of you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *