When the two-year breast cancer survivor Rita Thomas woke up on her 56th birthday last month, it was the last…
When the two-year breast cancer survivor Rita Thomas woke up on her 56th birthday last month, it was the last one she received a gift.
“Instead of thinking about what kind of gifts should I have for my birthday or who would take me out to eat, I just started getting all these ideas about a breast cancer awareness dinner,” she said.
With a month of planning, the 13-year-old survivor of his friend and five-year survivor, Karen Lester, called the plan to work.
“I sat up in my bed and began to text Karen immediately. I said,” You think we can do this? She said, “I think we can,” recalled Thomas.
The two saw the vision that came to life on Saturday when they hosted their first annual Pink Breast Cancer awareness Luncheon as a way to not only give back, but also provide a platform for survivors to celebrate life, share the journey and educate others about the terrible disease.
Lester said about two years ago, they made T-shirts, collected some women and took pictures. Thomas was moved to do something more this year.
“This was Rita’s view that God put on his heart,” said Lester. “And I took it and ran with it, and it was so good that everyone we asked said yes. Everyone donated.”
Thomas said that lunch was born of a need for support for breast cancer victims and survivors in the local area.
“We do not really have a place where women can come together and cherish each other, love each other, encourage each other,” she said.
“Karen and I want to honor the women in Marshall, Texas who have gone through breast cancer,” says Thomas. “We wanted to do something where people would know that there is a network. You are not in this case yourself.”
Those who shared their testimony on Saturday included 27-year-old Marshall mom and breast cancer survivor Tempestt Olivia Ventura, 45- year-old survivor and music teacher Mary Lou Taylor; and Wiley College’s chair in interdisciplinary studies, Dr Carol Hicks, who is currently reviewing the battle. The Keynote speaker was Hallsville resident and mother of four, Sharon Ventimiglia.
The Gospel Singing Siblings group, Turner Sisters, inspired guests sings a special tribute “Lord You Were Gain Me Through” and 1
0-year-old survivor Wilette Williams blessed guests with a special celebration of the gospel artist Jessica Reedy’s song “Better.” “
“We have space, power and hope in space,” said Thomas when she watched more than a dozen women who stood as who is either survivor or fighting at the moment.
“We do not present our face of sadness, but we present the face of hope,” she said. “It’s about saying what you’re going through that gives (hope) to other people who face what you’re facing.”
Coordinators thanked all who made the day special by donating their time and services.
“We did not really have to pay for anything, but the food, and then the caterer donated his time; the photographer donated his time,” said Thomas and noted the photographer Dale W. Smith and the caterer was her husband Tony Thomas.
Decorator Cecilia CeCe Turner, of Elaborate Designs, also donated his services. Tamika Hill donated cupcakes.
“Everyone we called was under the track” yes, “says Thomas.
She said they were also blessed to book Elks Lodge after receiving so much interest about the event from people who saw the message on Facebook. 19659003] “We had the fire station first; they could only accommodate 55 people. Our response to Facebook was overwhelming; The people said I want to come. I was like God you gave me this vision, so what should we do because we run out of space. “
She said a lady asked her if she ever thought Elks Lodge and things just fell in place from there
” It’s amazing how we are parts of the globe but we experience the same things, “Thomas says about those affected by the disease.
Therefore, her vision for a support group is important.
“People know that there are other people who go through exactly the same thing and we are not talking about it. So that’s our vision for this type of group, “says Thomas. “I’m so excited to see the number of people who came today because we really want to continue this.”
All program participants thanked the coordinators for sharing their journey.
“This Monday I will meet the radiator for the first time and then for the next six weeks I will go through radiation,” says Hicks. “I have prayers going from southern Texas. I have them in Tennessee. I have a lot of prayer warriors, especially here in Marshall, who work to help me get through all this. “
” I’ve just been so lucky that chemo has blown so much, “she said, and thanked her support system.
Taylor, a 45-year-old survivor, was diagnosed when her daughter was 9 years old. On Saturday she praised God for sharing her story in the presence of her family – her daughter, grandson and newborn grandchildren – represents three generations.
“I’m only in tears, but I’ll try to get through it. It has been a beautiful 45 years, “said Taylor.” I am so grateful that I saw the sense of self-control. That’s how I survived.
She said she was only 29 when she felt a hard lump of marble, which led to her diagnosis and her journey to recovery.
“I’m just so grateful for this opportunity to share my story,” says Taylor. “I want you to know that self-control is the key. We need to know our bodies. “
” I am a survivor of breast cancer and I am very proud to say that, for 45 years I have been blessed, “she added.” I am so grateful. I only love life. “
Ventimiglia, diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 34 in November 2016, said her fight was revealed to her, the purpose of her life.
” During my trip, I started my own organization “Team Venti,” said she. “I almost made my own design, brought my own logo, and I made wings because it represents me a protective angel. Many times people think of breast cancer as dead, but to me, my organization is hope.”
“Almost all My profits go to breast cancer families, “Ventimiglia said.
So far, the organization has donated more than 2,000 kronor to families to help them through the Breast Cancer Camp.
” The thing with that I have always said, “What’s my purpose?” ” Ventimiglia shared. “I went to school, Wiley, for criminal justice.”
But, “this is my opinion, to advocate for people who go through cancer, to be a voice and to let people know that’s okay” said Ventimiglia.
She said her trip also led her to sell life insurance now. She has met so many other breast cancer survivors along the way and even has the chance to offer a cancer policy as for security agent to help others.
“My entire trip I put on Facebook to let people know it’s OK to go through things, it’s not the end of the world,” says Ventimiglia. “And for me, to be here, my whole perspective is different. I smile, 24/7. I laughed chemo. That’s how I handle things.”
“I’m grateful and grateful to be here because some people did not do that, “she said and shared her grateful to call the famous clock in May 2017 the end of her scary battle.
” God has given me the opportunity to help others (by) just turn my trial to bless other people, “Ventimiglia said.
” I just praise everyone here, “she said.
She urged people to give up, no matter what trial they face.
” I am a living testimony. It gets better. God will make your trial a testimony, said Ventimiglia, when she closed the Bible verse: Ecclesiastes 9:11.
Thomas thanked Lester to go side by side to make lunch a reality. 19659003] “She was so crucial to doing that,” said Thomas, professor at Jarvis Christian College. “I do not know anyone I’d rather share this trip with and get something born with Karen Lester because she’s such a darling. We worked here together.”
“She’s my inspiration. She inspires me, says Lester about Thomas, her former college professor.