Not my bra cup because I wear the right size bra, thank you very much. My inspiration cup. Here is just one story I heard yesterday when I attended a lunch at the Cornell Club yesterday.

Mary Ann Wasil Nilan founded the Get in Touch Foundation to preempt the development of breast cancer by encouraging girls to get to know their own bodies. You can read part of her story here. What wowed me was the step she took after receiving a negative mammogram and ultrasound on February 5, 2004. When the radiologist told her over the phone (while eating a sandwich) not to worry and to check back the following year, Mary Ann went straight to a surgeon who discovered that her breasts were packed with cancer that had also spread to her lymph nodes.

I don’t know about you, but I would have accepted the indifferent radiologist’s diagnosis. I’m a Don’t-Rock-the-Boat, Head-in-the-Sand type person who thinks that ignorance is bliss and defers to the experts. I’m still processing the lessons learned from Mary Ann’s talk yesterday, but here are two that stand out for me:

(1) Trust yourself. Too often my gut has told me something that my head has rationalized away, only to discover that my gut was right all along. We all have stories we can share about this (and that I would love to hear from you). From what I understand, it takes practice to listen to yourself. Mary Ann’s experience encourages me to keep practicing. She trusted her gut enough not only to go for a checkup immediately after discovering a lump, but also to go for a second opinion.

(2) Know your value. Some of us don’t like to be a bother to others, or we ignore our own needs while focusing on the needs of everyone else. However, there’s a big difference between being a self-centered diva and simply taking care of ourselves. Each of us has immense value, and anything of value deserves to be protected. When we decide to protect what is valuable, we find the courage to inconvenience others if necessary.