Fighting Cancer on the Pink Runway



Geeta Sugandh

Geeta Sugandh

A Daughter Remembers:

To My Mom, Geeta Sugandh, in Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month! #PinkRibbon

I grew up in a home where we spelled out the word “b-r-e-a-s-t” if we had to refer to it. Really conservative. Dad loved his job and mom was our center. Yes, she worked to feel great about her identity perhaps (I can only guess) but she focused on the kids and worked 3 miles from home. She was our universe; honestly, I just deferred to her opinion when I needed one – I just figured she had lived longer and was smarter about where I should be going – all good stuff.

In an effort to stay true to our culture we stayed true to mom… or rather I stayed true to mom. I don’t like to speak for my sister, Tina, who has her own take on our family I’m sure.

I’m the elder of two daughters. We grew up in Jersey. Boston to DC feels like home to me because of,  my musical, entertaining family that traveled the Eastern Seaboard through the 90’s bringing joy and culture to Indians in America. Needless to say I know how to #BringIt when I have to – thank you NJ!

My mother, the center of my universe, was vigilant about our family’s health. We were vegetarian, we were gym goers, we “hydrated”, everything Prevention Magazine said to do.


Tina Sugandh and Seema Sugandh with their dad at the Pink Runway

Tina Sugandh and Seema Sugandh with their dad Kanhaiya  at the Pink Runway


Losing a Mother, Pinking the World in her Memory…

With zero family history my mom had an irregular mammogram in the Spring of 2000. She was in the midst of moving to California to be with her future grandchildren and incorrect reads happen often, she was told, so she put off her repeat… for over a year.

It grew to stage 2B.  She did chemo and radiation after her mastectomy. Brave and positive, “It’s bringing our whole family together daily!” Always the silver lining! Then it came back in 2008.

I love her. I miss her to this day. I am not as puritanical as her. Yes, I do the organic veggies but Honey, I have a clean Belvedere/water when I need it (60 calories people – lower your estrogen) (monthly at the Club and I look forward to it – I believe strongly in “Write drunk, edit sober” – so I write once a month – for us goody-two-shoes truth telling is hard and this is the truth).

Is this offensive yet? I’m trying to channel my Facebook friend Shekhar (Kapoor – what other Shekhars have you heard of?)

I grew up on the stage! Strap on “a Coke and a smile” and make it the night of your audiences lives! Sometimes we were good. Sometimes we were really good. While my mom sang and sang well (she and I were obsessive about our vocal ornamentation), my dad was “the hype man” (this is a nickname given by our Twisted Sister, Marc Copely type band friends we ran into while my sister’s stellar career with Disney, etc took off). After her High Honors Biology career: “Dad, I just can’t do that Med School thing yet!”. In classic Dad support, he replied, “Well you’re a success at whatever you do, so give it a year!” … and Disney signed her.

Dad loves to this day to generously share the healthy fantasy/joy that Hollywood/Bollywood/Music is… and oh man is he good at it! My conservative mommy friends now get a smile on their face when referring to him and call him “a riot”. That’s preppy for “fabulous”! Thank you for reading my ramblings.

That disgusting Cancer took my mother out 7 years later. She said, “Well at least because I was healthy I gave it a good fight.” Not in those words. She was far too kind and generous to use the words “fight”. But I’ve learned since then it is a fight and she fought valiantly and honorably until the end.


If  You’ve Got Anger in Your Life, Point it to Cancer!

Here’s what I need ALL of you women reading to do: Do your monthly self-checks, and get your annual mammo. We can catch Breast Cancer at Stage 1, cut it out with minimal chemo, and make it extinct! If you’ve got anger, anger in the gym, anger in your life, point it at cancer. Let’s make that piece of garbage disease extinct!

It is not taking out any more moms on my watch! I co-founded  and our goal is to educate about Breast Cancer and what to do after you are diagnosed. We fund mammograms. We talk about reconstruction options. We have developed a family of warm-hearted women and families and welcome more every year – and I hope everyone reading can attend a #PinkRunway!

I love us! We are a family of women, dads, children, savvy people from all walks of life who have been affected by this and want women to be empowered so we can make cancer extinct!

With love and gratitude and the insistence that you get your moms and sisters to not only prevent this but to detect and cut it out – but mostly with love and generosity and kindness and gratitude -as I try to be like my perfect mom,

Seema Sugandh





About Author

an exercise physiologist and nutritionist turned social media strategist and philanthropist. Her vocal chords produce a sweet and magnificently wholesome voice. Her performance is frequently rewarded with thunderous applause


  1. Lavina,
    Once again you wrote on such an important issue facing our society.
    Bringing awareness and education re: prevention of cancer is extremely important in our community. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I am requesting all of you to support programs for Breast Cancer prevention and education. Together we can make a difference!

  2. Hi Indu, you are right – it’s a very important issue but one often seeped in silence. Many Indian-Americans still don’t talk about it. If only they did, more people in the community would be encouraged to take early measures.

  3. Seema, I’m sure you’ve inspired a lot of people by sharing your story. This is the best tribute you can pay to your mom.