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June 2012
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Cancer survivors extoll life

By Leanne Fullerlfuller@paducahsun.com

For breast cancer survivors, the national Pink Glove Dance video competition offers a good chance to celebrate.

"It's a big celebration of life and of hope," said Linda Haney, who participated in the video shoot for Baptist Health Paducah's entry Tuesday morning. "And it's good to get together with other survivors. It just brings you strength."

Baptist Health Paducah chose the song "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors for its video, and participating breast cancer survivors each held up a sign noting the best day of their lives. Among the 24 women holding signs, some wrote the day they learned they were cancer-free and others wrote "today" or "every day."

Haney has been cancer-free for five years. She was diagnosed during the ice storm that hit western Kentucky in January of 2009.

"We didn't have electricity for days, you know - some people, weeks - and that wasn't really my biggest worry during that time," Haney recalled. 

Tracy Skinner, another participating survivor, wrote the date of her first-ever baseline mammogram. She said that was the day "they found my lump and saved my life." She emphasized it's important for women to fight the urge to put off their first mammograms.

"I'd never had one before, so you can't ever say, 'Oh, the first one's not going to save me,' because I'm here to tell you it can," she said.

Skinner, who also battled uterine cancer in 2008, went for her first mammogram on March 24, 2011.

"My life changed on this date," she said. "But I look at it as a blessing and not a curse."

Fellow survivor Mildred Jones attended the video shoot with Skinner. Jones said she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, and then again about four years later. Like Skinner, Jones said she chooses to see the positive side of the experience.

"I tell you, it's a blessing. It's really a blessing from God that he took me through all of this. And, you know, I just thank him every day for all the blessings that He has given us and watching us through all of this," Jones said.

Jones said she encourages other women to do breast self-exams and to have clinical exams and mammograms. For those currently facing breast cancer, she said, "Hold in there, because I've made it this long."

Jones and Skinner each praised the number of people who came out Tuesday to participate in the video - both their fellow survivors and the hospital staff and public safety staff from western Kentucky.  Sometimes people battling cancer feel like they're alone, they said, and it's important to show that isn't the case.

"They say one in eight women are going to get it, so even if you don't have (cancer), it's good to come and be supportive of those you know who are either facing it or going to face it," Skinner said. 

This is the fourth year the national video competition has been held. Baptist Health Paducah has participated each year, placing in the top eight videos each year. Video teams in this year's competition are each entered into one of three categories: health care system, stand-alone health care provider and non-health care organization.

The competition raises money for charities chosen by winning teams. According to the Pink Glove Dance U.S. website, the first-place team in each category will receive $10,000 for its charity, second place will win $5,000 and the overall winner will receive an additional $5,000. 

Baptist Health Paducah's video will support the Kentucky Cancer Program's Horses and Hope breast cancer education program. Those who want to help the hospital raise money for the program can vote for the video once a day from Sept. 9 through Sept. 23 at http://PinkGloveDance.com.

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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