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Think Pink Luncheon: Speakers urge checkups, early cancer detection

DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / King's Daughters Medical Center Foundation board member and volunteer for Tuesday's Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness luncheon, Kathy Walker, (front) honors breast cancer victims and survivors of the disease before balloons were released from the lawn of the Ole Towne Church.

DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / King’s Daughters Medical Center Foundation board member and volunteer for Tuesday’s Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness luncheon, Kathy Walker, (front) honors breast cancer victims and survivors of the disease before balloons were released from the lawn of the Ole Towne Church.

Maggie Wade shared encouraging stories of love and perseverance at the Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon Tuesday.

October is breast cancer awareness month and King’s Daughters Medical Center Foundation threw a party with 300-plus guests at First United Methodist Church in downtown Brookhaven on Jackson Street. The foundation celebrated survivors, remembered those who have died and talked about the importance of early cancer detection.

Wade shared life lessons that tested her faith, such as when her beloved Aunt Phyllis was losing her battle with breast cancer. Wade said she was a young woman and angry with God about losing a loved one. She talked to her aunt about it. She replied:

“God knew that I could handle it,” she said, “I am filled with so much faith and I have been loved so well. Stop asking God ‘Why?’ and start asking him, ‘What? – What is it that you want me to do Lord to serve you?'”

Wade was quiet for a moment and then said, “When we lost Phyllis, we didn’t really lose her, because what she taught us is always with us.”

Wade encouraged women to get tested early. She shared her personal story of lumps that had to be removed from her breasts since she was 16 years old. She encouraged them to also surround themselves with positive people, especially if they were fighting cancer.

Following Wade was Dr. Michael Peavey of the Brookhaven Surgery Clinic. He is a surgeon and a breast specialist. He congratulated those who were survivors of breast cancer and talked about what goes into having healthy patients.

“There is so much involved in making something work,” Peavey said, “but at KDMC, we really pay attention to the details and the blessing comes back to us when we see y’all fighting the good fight.”

Peavey said he has performed 40 breast surgeries so far this year, and he said his patients deserve some of the credit for the healing process. “You are a big part of helping us – it’s a privilege, an honor and a blessing to help take care of you.”

Dr. Justin Baker, of Jackson Oncology Associates, is a medical oncologist who runs a satellite clinic in Brookhaven once a month. He said his job was not something he could totally detach his emotions and feelings from. He studies each patient’s case files to find the best therapy for the individual.

“Being an oncologist is not easy,” he said, “it seems everyday you have to give someone bad news.” He went on to emphasize the importance of self-examinations, early testing and treatment.

“I pay attention to the pathologies – the type of cancer,” he said. “They all act differently, so it matters toward treatment. It matters how fast the tumor is growing. Another important thing is how many lymph nodes were involved. And, there are three or four types of actions – surgical, radiation, chemotherapy and target-therapy.”

He said the sooner the diagnosis and the approach to treatment is decided, the quicker the healing can begin.

The luncheon closed with a balloon release on the lawn of the Ole Towne Church next door to the Methodist ministry center. Several dozen women with pink balloons bearing the names of loved ones lost and beloved survivors released these symbols of their hope for the cure for breast cancer. With a word of memoriam form KDMC foundation board member and one of the many hostesses for the event, Kathy Walker, the balloons were let go, carrying many prayers with them.

KDMC offers several resources for those whose lives are touched by breast cancer. There is a new “Check on Us, Too” project that assists low-income and uninsured women, age 40 and older in getting tests and mammograms. Contact your physician or Elizabeth Smith at KDMC Performance Center, (601) 823-5282 to learn about how to qualify.

To find support and encouragement talk to the Pink Sisters, a group of survivors that give support to each other; call Carolyn Logan, (601) 320-0302, Janice Wallace (601) 757-4388, or Jennifer Jackson, (601) 669-1500.

Or, to find a way to be supportive and do a little fundraising for the cause, talk to someone in Mississippi Girls for a Cure. They have a 5K run Saturday, Oct. 5, the morning of the Ole Brook Festival. Entry fee is $25 and registration is at 7 a.m. The walk/run starts at 8 a.m. Contact, Margarette Roberson, (601) 695-3392, for more information.