Team of the Week

Team Red Lipstick

Honoring a sister’s survivorship and the red lipstick she wore before, during and after her battle.

Bhumika Shah’s “beautiful” older sister, Lipsa Sheth, was diagnosed with breast cancer two days before her birthday. She was just 35. Sheth had gone for a baseline mammogram for use after she turned 40. The doctors detected an abnormality, performed a biopsy and determined the tumor was malignant. “I realize this is the story of many women,” said Shah, “but we never thought it would be our story as well. It was a major shock to our family’s system.”

Red Lipstick

Bhumika Shah wearing an "in
celebration" placard with photos
of her sister, Lipsa, wearing her
signature red lipstick.

Shah, family and friends wanted to make a difference in her sister’s fight, yet felt somewhat helpless. Together, they created Team Red Lipstick in 2009 honoring Lipsa who proudly wore red lipstick before, during and after her battle. In 2011, the team had 15 members and raised $4,819. This year, their goal is $7,000.

“My team is amazing!” declared Shah. It’s made up of family friends that the two sisters grew up with over 25 years — true brothers and sisters — as well as Shah’s best friends and their extended families and friends. Many, when asked, said they would not only donate but also race in honor of Lipsa, as well as their loved ones affected by the disease. “There was no way to keep the team exclusive,” Shah explained. “People have asked to join the team out of extreme kindness and the unselfishness of their hearts.” Lipsa lives in Michigan and has never attended the Race. Now that her children are older, Shah hopes her sister will attend this year. “Our goal is to get her and her friends to join us,” she said.

Lipsa’s illness showed Shah how lucky she is. “It’s real. It happens,” she explained. “Breast cancer was a big wake up call to live life to the fullest — to honor your body and your loved ones, because you never know when things can change.” Shah marvels at how her sister stood strong through a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and the complications that come with it, including losing her “long, silky, straight, enviable” hair. Lipsa also “remained the most dedicated mother to her three young girls — never taking a personal pass on being a mom just because she couldn’t get the metal taste out of her mouth or stop being nauseous. In time,” she continued, “ my nieces will truly recognize what a gift their mother is, just as I do today.”

The team has roughly 15 members. They like to run as a group, so given the large number of Race participants, Team Red Lipstick may be nearing capacity. Shah doesn’t actively seek new members, but the team’s motto is “the more, the merrier” and having new recruits each year is a joy.

To raise funds, Shah announces the team on Facebook and also sends out an email solicitation, which provides a link to where and how people can donate. A family friend also hosts a charity bartending event several days before the Race. He donates 10 percent of his bartending tab and 100 percent of tips to Komen Greater NYC. Although the friend cannot get to the Race this year, he still plans to do his bartending stint. When asked about fundraising tips, Shah suggested that people raising money for the Race — “…put a personal message on their fundraising page. It shows a person’s inherent passion and commitment to the cause and their team.”

Her favorite Race memory is the annual team photo. “It marks our achievement and dedication,” she explained. “It also marks survivorship and our love for my sister and all the women and families who are battling breast cancer.”