San Diego Life: By Brandon Herna
ndez • Photography by Martin Mann
She's A Crafty Survivor
Last autumn, Ingrid Qua found herself just lying in bed. On a lark, she decided to give herself a breast exam. To her surprise, she found a lump. Qua called her doctor, who said, "You're young ... it's probably nothing." They scheduled an appointment a month out. Four weeks later, she was diagnosed with an aggressive breed of breast cancer and put on the fast track to a complication-ridden mastectomy, followed by a harsh regimen of chemotherapy.
Before that, Qua's claim to fame was converting her business, The High Dive in Bay Park, from a Bud bar to one of San Diego's hottest craft beer hideaways. Nowadays, suds are not the only focus of her business. She's also started up Chicks For Beer, a unique nonprofit organization that aids individuals who've been touched by cancer.
Many may have crumbled or cowered under similar circumstances. But Qua decided to take charge of the situation. After her mastectomy, rather than wait for her hair to fall out, she held a sold-out fund-raiser at The High Dive. She auctioned off the chance to take a pair of clippers to her raven locks — for more than a grand. Proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
That evening, talking with fellow breast cancer survivors, she realized she could make a difference just by being herself.
"In some ways, cancer has been the biggest blessing because it's enabled me to become a much stronger person and very self-assured," says Qua. "People say, 'I can't believe your positive attitude,' but when you're faced with something like cancer, it's how you choose to deal with it that decides whether you're going to take control of the situation or let it take control of you."
Qua's fund-raiser made her a cult hero. Ingrid's One-in-Eight is a collaborative beer brewed with donated ingredients by local brewers Ballast Point and Coronado Brewing Company. Proceeds from that namesake brew are also funneled to Susan G. Komen.
Earlier this year, Mira Mesa-based Green Flash Brewing Company dubbed a Belgian pale ale "Treasure Chest," with monies going toward helping establish Chicks For Beer as an official nonprofit.
Qua acknowledges everyone who has helped her make a difference.
"People think making a difference has to be a big thing, but sometimes the smallest thing you do makes the biggest difference," she says. "People say 'seize the day,' but that doesn't mean going to the ultimate extreme. If you're able to run to the top of the mountain, seize the day that way. If you're able to walk to the top, fine. But even if you're only able to get out of bed to see the mountain, be sure to seize the day."