AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
This Mother Is No Tiger,
She’s A Genuine
HERRELL J. ASTON,
a highly successful plastic surgeon on Manhattan’s fashionable
East Side, is chairman of the department of plastic surgery at
Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. He also teaches at the
New York University School of Medicine and Institute of
Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.
One day Dr. Aston, a
widower with three grown sons, went on a blind date. She turned
out to be Muffie Potter, a tantalizing gorgeous divorcee.
By the time they got to
Madison Square Garden, for a Barbra Streisand concert, he
was convinced that he wanted to spend time with this woman.
"Hold on a minute,"
Muffie said. She was reluctant only to date and have a good
time. "I intend to be a mother one day and if I don’t do that I
will consider myself a failure."
Muffie and Sherrell
married. After six failed pregnancies Muffie got her wish. Six
years ago they welcomed twin daughters into their life,
Bracie Potter and Ashleigh Tatiana.
In March the American
Cancer Society of New York honored Muffie Potter Aston at
its Mothers of the Year 2011 Award Luncheon at the Plaza Hotel.
The second honoree was a prominent cancer surgeon, Dr. Freya
Dr. Aston related with
much pride how Muffie blended gracefully her social life and
philanthropic endeavors with her deep devotion to motherhood.
"Muffie’s been a hands-on
mother," he said. "The happiest times of her life are when she’s
with the girls. They come first in her life. When she comes late
to an event, it’s not to be fashionably late. It’s because she
makes sure the girls are fed before she leaves home. Muffie is
not a tiger — she’s a lioness."
Aston was accompanied by
Bracie and Ashleigh as he presented the Mother of the Year Award
to his wife.
"It doesn’t get any
better than that," Muffie said.
"Motherhood is a
heartfelt battle to achieve. It did not come easily. But I would
do it all over again. It’s an incredible journey. Like all
mothers, we’ve altered our lives in innumerable ways. It has
never been a sacrifice. Rather, it has been an endeavor that is
indescribable in its capacity to bring joy, and compelling in
its nature to evoke the strongest of emotions to behold."
Muffie often tells her
kids she loves them.
"We know, mommy."
"How do you know?"
"Mommy, you keep telling
us every day."
"Well, girls, your mommy
is going to continue to tell you that I love you every day no
matter how tired you may grow of hearing it, as I will never
grow tired of saying it."
Through Ashleigh and
Bracie’s curious eyes, Muffie rediscovers even the most simple
things all over again. "I am enthralled and awestruck at the
things my daughters do and say," she said. "They get me to think
about things I’ve never thought about."
One night lying in bed
together, Ashleigh and Bracie (three years old at the time) said
they had a very important question. They wanted to know if
heaven lay above or below the planetary system.
"I was quite surprised by
the existential nature of the question and I said, well, girls,
I believe heaven would probably lay above all the planets."
At this point they said
"phew!" and "thank goodness." They said they were relieved that
heaven and the angels were above all the planets, so that the
angels would not get caught in the asteroid belt between Jupiter
"I kissed my daughters
and told them not to worry about any more asteroids for tonight.
I realized that night that my girls would teach me as much or
perhaps even more than I could ever teach them.
Muffie’s parents, Dr.
John and Tanya Potter, are very proud of their
indefatigable daughter, granddaughters and, of course,
son-in-law. Her father was chief of Oncologic surgery at
Georgetown University, where he founded the Lombardi Cancer
Center. Currently he is the founder and director of the United
States Military Cancer Institute in Washington.
Her mother was the first
chairperson of the volunteer fundraising efforts for the
American Cancer Society’s Washington chapter.
Continuing the legacy of
her family, Muffie is a board member of the Society of Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the corporate chair of the
Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala Steering Committee.
An dynamic philanthropist, Muffie is a champion of many other
charitable and humanitarian causes.
Model Patti Hansen,
wife of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, and a
bladder cancer survivor, presented a Mother of the Year Award to
her doctor, the preeminent Freya Schnabel. An Alpha Omega Alpha
graduate of the NYU School of Medicine, Dr. Schnabel is
professor and director of breast surgery at NYU Langone Medical
"I met Freya ten years
ago," Hansen said. "I needed surgery and I decided to put all my
trust in her. We grew into a relationship that will last a
lifetime. Freya is a single mother of two girls. She loves
music, but she loves my husband’s music best."
Dr. Schnabel said, "What
keeps us going is that our children and the next generation will
make it better. They provide that optimism that keeps us going."
David Patrick Columbia,
editor of the