All photos by Alida Zimmerman
On August 19th, 2018, she sent in a LimitLes in Bali application. It was my 31st birthday that day, and I was in Florida celebrating with my family. Everyone was out by the pool while I stayed inside. I clicked to read her powerful words. Tears streamed down my face in awe of this woman I’d never met, and she continued to be very upfront with her diagnosis while sharing her story with me:
I am always looking for ways to help people within the cancer community, and think about new ways to raise money for organizations I have been passionate about daily, as I feel as though I am very fortunate, albeit my diagnosis. I will never say no to trying something new and I am always trying to see the silver lining in everything. I have coined the term “Gauxforward,” a spin on my name, meaning just keep looking ahead. I have learned to accept my past and have gained comfort in truly understanding there are certain things in life you can’t control. But what I can control is how I respond and act. I have decided to use my diagnoses as means to gauxforward and enjoy my life and do it with as much grace and ease as possible.
Despite her diagnosis, her words exuded hope. Hope in her health, hope in fundraising for a cure. I wanted to know her, be her friend and see Bali through her eyes. She was a complete standout, my favorite girl from the get go, and I was ecstatic when she accepted!
Cut to October 2018 and it was time to head to Bali, but not before speaking at The Breasties event in NYC. I immediately went to the bar after I spoke (as you do) and I’ll never forget meeting Margaux for the first time. She came up to me with the biggest smile and said, “Do you know who I am?!” I matched that same smile and said, “Of course I do, Margaux!” and proceeded to give her a big hug. I later learned she wasn’t a big fan of hugs, but I’m really glad I did it anyway. I then proceeded to fan girl in her face for the next 20 minutes, saying I’d see her in Bali in a few days.
Cut to one week later when she was the 1st person to arrive at the Bali villa…massive smile, so excited for the upcoming adventure, so excited for LIFE. We drank coconuts and hung by the pool as the other women arrived. That first evening, it was time for our opening circle. It’s where I wanted to really kick everything into gear. Enough of the where-are-you-froms and how-was-your-flights. We traveled to go deep and connect, so that’s exactly what we did. As I introduced the trip, I then gave it to the woman on my immediate left to introduce herself. I knew this woman would set the tone for the night, and it could go one of two ways: vulnerability OR surface level. As it turns out, Margaux was on my left, and she’s anything but surface level. She didn’t waste time, got right into her story, had everyone in tears and belly laughs all the same. I thank her over and over for setting the tone for that trip.
I’ll never forget how she spoke so fondly of her family, how she shared ALL the snacks, how she was so determined to make it up that volcano, how she showed me her scars, how she carried herself with independence and grace, how she snorkeled in monsoon-like waves, how utterly fearless she was, how she was always thinking of others, how she never made anyone (or their problems) feel less than. That’s who Margaux was.
In our final moments together, I interviewed her on camera. It’s the most powerful 15 minutes I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I found it so moving that I set it up after dinner one night for my guests during LimitLes in Argentina. Margaux commanded the room with her presence and wise words. I will forever show it to anyone who will listen because it’s chock full of so many lessons from her. Even in her absence, we learn. I believe everyone departed Argentina feeling as if they once knew her, like a short yet powerful friendship occurred somehow. She was the link we all needed, a bonding force that undoubtedly watched over and guided our journey south. She has an impact on those who’ve never been graced by her presence and a profound impact on others who were lucky enough to get to know her in the most complete way through travel. I knew I had to share her words with anyone who’d listen…so here’s Margaux’s story:
After a long and courageous fight against metastatic breast cancer, 33-year-old Margaux Untracht passed away on March 16th surrounded by her family. For nearly three years Margaux battled an aggressive form of breast cancer with an unbelievable amount of grace and strength. She was and continues to be an inspiration to all of us.
A few months ago after we’d left the island, my team and I discussed asking Margaux to co-host LimitLes in Bali 2019. That is the kind of impact she made in Indonesia, leaving us wanting so much more. As I sit here writing on a plane at 40,000 ft, I somehow feel closer to her, wherever she is. No matter her whereabouts, I firmly believe she was taken from us for an ever bigger impact that’s far beyond our comprehension. She left us earthside wanting so much more, so we’ll gaux forward with a piece of her inside all of us.