The Beautiful Journey From Why Me to Why Not Me

Angelle Albright had every reason in the world to say “why me.” Angelle was just 38 years old going through her second round of chemo treatment for the most aggressive form of breast cancer when she had to evacuate her New Orleans home during hurricane Katrina. While cancer was wreaking havoc on her life, the hurricane destroyed many of her family members homes.

Her physician husband and her doctor sat her down to break the news, she was not going to live. She recalls  telling a church member, “I can accept that God would take me, but why would he take the mother of my 3 children.” She felt strangely comforted by her friend’s response. “They’re not your children.”

But she did survive due to a miraculous drug described in the movie Living Proof in which Angelle serves as extra. She now believes, “Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. Somebody upstairs is using me to do good. If that’s why I was kept here, than I’m up to the challenge.”

A Calling Toward Entrepreneurship

When her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer five years later, Angelle felt compelled to ease what she could of her sisters pain, not start a movement. She wanted her to be able to “focus on her healthcare not her head ware.” They began to help others and Chemo Beanies was born.

Angelle’s mission is to help women with cancer “take the burden out of baldness” and to stop dying from vanity as they delay or avoid necessary treatment. Her footnote message is equally powerful: find the possibilities in every circumstance, and DO something to make a difference.

With no business degree, Chemo Beanies was recognized in Walmart’s Get On The Shelf contest, received a major grant from Chase, and additional support from Google.

Her sister and other family members partner with her in the business which they have defined on a clear set of core values. Helping women always stays at the forefront over profits.

A few examples:

Although it would clearly be cheaper to have the sewing done overseas, it’s all done in the US. “We didn’t want to enslave women somewhere else when we were trying to free women here.”

All designs are named after real women. When I told her of my mothers situation, she asked for her name. “Some day there might be a design that will feel just right to be named Jean, and I’ll remember this conversation.”

The picture above was taken at the airport when Angelle spotted a woman wearing a beanie and introduced herself. Her eye’s glowed and she shared the is story of “connection.”

In addition, Angelle hand crafts chemo beanie bridal veils for free when brides reach out, and this year they’ll donate 3000 beanies to needy patients. “It’s important for women going through this to feel graceful.”

Her sister, hand folds each beanie with love and prayer.

Finding Good In Suffering

When I asked Angelle what advice she’d give to people in the midst of unthinkable tragedy she shared:

  • Know that everyone is suffering in some way
  • The best good comes from suffering- take yours and do some good
  • Take action- just wishing things were different will keep things the same
  • Think REALLY big
  • Get outside your comfort zone- take some risks

Angelle knows the cancer could return, but for now she’s living each day to leave an important legacy, and is a powerful example of resilience, possibility and the power of dreams.

Posted in Employee Engagement & Energy and tagged , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. Great story! I too am a cancer survivor. At diagnosis almost exactly 5 years ago, the type/staging, etc, gave me a 40% chance of surviving 5 years (I passed the 4 year survival mark on 3/1). The side effects from my chemo were very different. I only lost about 60% of my hair (a brilliant stylist kept everyone from knowing that). My most significant side effects were peripheral neuropathy & cold sensitivity. It hurt to pick up silverware in restaurants, for example, because the metal was too chilled from the air conditioning. I couldn’t drink anything cold. I was using napkins to hold flatware when a friend created flatware holders for me (crocheted) & a case that I could easily carry the holders around. I can also attest that finding solutions to the issues you encounter are liberating. Opening up about your experience is also helpful. You find many others who may have encountered something similar who can help you or your story helps them in ways you never expect. Thanks for sharing Angelle’s wonderful story.

    • Joy, Thanks so much for sharing your journey. I am so glad to see your vibrant recovery. I know many folks who’ve gone through cancer who describe the deep feelings of loneliness and isolation. I so believe in the sharing of our stories and finding what may be the just needed connection.

  2. Great story Karin! Thank you for sharing. I love the transformation from why me to why not me?.. It is so powerful to find purpose in the pain.

    Joy – I love knowing your story as well. Maybe flatwear holders are the next Chemo Beanies!

    • Chery, Thanks so much. I met Angelle walking across the parking lot at the National Speakers Association conference this week. We connected instantly. There is such inspiring beauty in true purpose.

  3. Thank you for sharing this inspirational story, Karin!

    It is true that by just wishing with no action, nothing will change. Angelle is an extraordinary leader who knew what her purpose was and decided to make a difference. I am in awe of her.

    Joy, your story is beautiful and I feel so lucky to connect with you and grow with you.

    Thanks Karin!

    • Terri,
      I am in awe too. Thanks so much as always for being such an important member of the LGL community.

  4. Herman and Candelaria Zapp’s childhood dream was to drive around the world. They’re doing just that in a 1928 Graham-Paige car with virtually no money.

    I met them at the NY State Fair about seven years ago. I asked Herman what the people in NY thought about what he was doing. “They say I’m crazy Steve!” I followed up with “So what do you think of that?” Herman responded slowly, with a lower voice, and a smile saying “Millions of people have dreams but they never go after them. I’m living my dream. Who’s the crazy one?”

    Why not them?

    • Steve, GREAT story. Thanks for providing another powerful example.

  5. This is sooooo awesome!! I attended an entreprenuer conference last year, and everything you said is RIGHT ON!
    I am in the middle of battles (all separate) #11 and #12 cancer – I have been battling for 41 years and because of research, entrepreneurs, and people who think outside the box, encourager’s and more I am still here, and still fighting. I am working on Book 2, a sequel to Loose Screws and Skinned Knees (Amazon/Kindle) and blog at
    Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks so much. You’re journey sounds so challenging and inspiring. I really appreciate you sharing with us.

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