In January, I was invited to attend the 15th annual You're Beautiful! Luncheon and Style Show, celebrating local cancer survivors and benefiting the American Cancer Society.
Gene Meador invited me to sit at her table at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center. Meador's son and daughter-in-law and their company, Meador Nursery, are one of the underwriters for the event.
Local cancer survivors modeled that day, and they did so with spunk. The men and women who walked the runway inspired the audience to applaud wholeheartedly.
It was a joyful event marking the survivors' tenacious journeys. I was sitting where I could see the models as they bounced off the runway. Yes, I did say bounced. I felt such joy for them.
Close to home
As I watched the models that day, I became unexpectedly emotional. I couldn't help thinking of my own family's cancer story.
My son-in-law, Kevin Hale, was diagnosed several years ago. Doctors delivered the devastating news: At age 35, Kevin had Stage 4 brain cancer.
His cancer came without much warning. He had gone to buy a Christmas tree for our daughter, Kati. Several times, he had to go back to his truck to rest before finally purchasing the tree.
He had an excruciating headache.
As he and Kati tried to decorate the tree that evening, Kevin's headache became so severe that my daughter and his parents took him to the emergency room.
Much later that night, hospital personnel told my daughter and Kevin's parents that he had a tumor — a mass in the frontal lobe of his brain. They missed the inoperable one in the back of his head.
Long story short: A local pastor who had a similar diagnosis shared his story with Kati and Kevin. Within a week, Kevin was at the oncologist who had treated the pastor, and the next day he was at Baylor Oncology in Dallas, in surgery.
He received wonderful care. And as a "grammy," I must add that he and Kati welcomed a miracle baby girl in April of 2015, while Kevin was still in chemotherapy.
I’ve witnessed so many miracles through Kevin and baby Nellie. I’m smiling as I write, though, and am grateful. The tumor in the frontal lobe is gone, and the inoperable one? It has shrunk, and there is no blood flow to it.
There are so many who have supported Kevin and Kati through Kevin’s journey: supervisors, co-workers, precious friends and family, just to name a few. He still has MRIs to make sure the cancer has not returned, and he is very careful with his diet.
Never underestimate even small deeds of kindness you do for someone who is facing a giant. Kind words mean so much. Knowing when to give the patient space is important. Cancer is not a fought alone. It takes family and friends to get through each day.
Healing with help from others
I learned recently of a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She avoided telling many people. When her plan to have breast reconstruction didn’t turn out as planned, she was devastated. She had planned to go right back to work as soon as she could.
Being unable to wear the typical prosthetic breasts soon after surgery — and wanting to go on with her life — the woman was happy to discover an organization called Knitted Knockers.
Knitted Knockers are special, handmade prosthetic breasts for women who have lost a breast. The soft prosthesis is comfortable, beautiful and when placed in a regular bra, takes the shape of a real breast.
Volunteer knitters provide these free to women who request them. Knitted Knockers can be adjusted to fill the gap for breasts that are uneven, and easily adapted for those going through reconstruction by simply removing some of the stuffing.
The website provides the patterns to knit or crochet the prostheses. Women can also request a knocker in the size and color they want. In addition, a “how to” guide can help knitters to start their own Knitted Knocker group in your area.
And if you don't knit or crochet, you can make a donation to help volunteers buy the yarn.
Of course cancer is devastating news. But there's a lot of help available. Denton’s You’re Beautiful Luncheon raises money for local patient services, research, education and advocacy.
There are many other organizations and brave cancer survivors who coordinate their efforts to support research for a cure.
Every cancer patient is a hero. It goes without saying that every person in the medical field who works with cancer patients is a hero, too.
How grateful we should all be for these kind folks.
PAM RAINEY is a longtime Denton resident and a former real estate agent who has helped many seniors make decisions about living arrangements. You can reach her with suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 940-293-3117.
FEATURED IMAGE: Thirteen-year-old Kodi Tutt poses for the crowd. The 15th annual You're Beautiful Luncehon and Style Show featured cancer survivors as models for the purpose of raising money for the American Cancer Society. The event celebrated local cancer survivors and remembers those who have not survived., Friday, Jan., 26, 2018 and Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center in Denton, Texas. Jake King/DRC