Many survivors attend annual luncheon

In different shades of pink, the Third Annual Breast Cancer Survivors Luncheon held on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, at the Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH) brought awareness while celebrating life and victory over the disease.RPMH Administrator Donna Boatright welcomed the guests for their attendance, followed by an invocation by Gay Nell Cherry. Ms. Boatright also introduced three members of the hospital's dietary staff, who prepared the wonderful meal of three different salads with cookies and sorbet.Others introduced by Ms. Boatright who were in attendance at the luncheon were representatives with the American Cancer Society and the Alliance for Women and Children in Abilene, along with KTXS Television. Dr. Robert Eaker, Marcie Crisp, FNP and Dr. Summer Walthall were acknowledged, along with some staff members from RPMH. Three members from the RPMH Mammography Department, who were the coordinators of the event, were recognized and thanked for their work toward the event. Ms. Boatright then introduced the keynote speaker of the event, someone who has experienced the hardship of living with breast cancer and emerged as a survivor of the disease. Adding to the role of mother, wife, teacher, coach, active 4th & Elm Church of Christ member and helper in the Sweetwater Emmaus community, six-year breast cancer survivor Jill Locklar expressed her appreciation to her husband, two daughters and friends while sharing her personal and emotional experience.Ms. Locklar discussed the common bond among all women with breast cancer — remembering the call of diagnosis. Her phone call came as a 36-year-old, but a visit two years prior of getting a mammogram served as the basis for future mammogram check-ups.Drawing strength from her husband, daughters and church helped Ms. Locklar cope, but she also noted that from the death of her mother two years earlier, she was able to draw strength and courage during her own ordeal. And because of her emotional journey, Ms. Locklar knows her daughters' characters were strengthened as well.In 2005, she found a lump and by July of that year, Ms. Locklar had a double mastectomy. During this time, she was also in transition from teaching elementary physical education to coaching middle school girls. She stated that while the chemotherapy and surgery were at war to steal her happiness, God's grace and her friends helped her to win the battle. Her questions, from that point, were no longer "Why?" but "how" she could use her experience. Citing the Apostle Paul, Ms. Locklar stated that "we all have ['a thorn in the flesh']". She thanked God for allowing her to help others and understand the hurt of those diagnosed with breast cancer from her personal experience with the struggle. Ms. Locklar has also participated in breast cancer awareness initiatives, such as joining a group of friends for a three-day, 60-mile breast cancer walk. The experience proved to be so eye-opening that she will be participating again this year in Dallas in early November.She has also helped in incepting the local Friday Night Fight for the Cure held in October. In its second year, local high school volleyball and football games have helped to raise money for the campaign by selling 1500 t-shirts. Next year's program already has plans to expand to high school golf and tennis.Also, a Pink Dodgeball tournament held in the spring promotes the cause and was a successful event. Stating both programs as a way to go beyond and make a difference, Ms. Locklar thanked everyone for their support.At this time, all breast cancer survivors were recognized. The years of survival ranged from 2 to 43 years — with each survivor thankful for being in attendance, and each survivor received a door prize.One final presentation was made by Ms. Boatright on the Field of Pink, a RPMH Community Outreach Team project headed by Bonnie Garcia. Ms. Garcia discussed how the project began and how memorial stakes were sold for $5 each.The response was great, with 115 stakes sold totaling $725. The money raised was then presented to the representatives from the American Cancer Society, who thanked the hospital and will use the money for patients and survivors.