Valdosta Daily Times

October 6, 2013

Pink Party celebrates survivors, early detection, positivity

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — When Lawanna Barron was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, she started searching for other women who had been diagnosed.

“When I was diagnosed, I didn’t know anybody who had been through it,” said Barron.

“She realized that we weren’t sharing our stories,” said Cassandra Sampson. “She wanted to create a forum to talk and celebrate.”

One of Barron’s sorority sisters told her about a Pink Party she had hosted in Atlanta and Barron, along with her sorority Sigma Gamma Rho, organized a Pink Party in Valdosta last year, bringing together cancer survivors and friends and family of cancer survivors.

It was such a success that Sigma

Gamma Rho did it again this year, hosting its Second Annual Pink Party Saturday morning at 306 North.

“We want to increase awareness and early detection,” said Sampson. “But we also want to talk about what do you do next?”

This year, they asked guests to bring wigs with them to donate to the Pearlman Cancer Center at South Georgia Medical Center.  

“A woman’s body image is directly affected,” said Bridgett Young, Pearlman director. “How you look affects how you feel. Losing your hair is a dramatic part of chemotherapy. Every time you look in the mirror, you’re reminded. It can be hard to move on.”

The donated wigs will give chemotherapy patients more options, allowing them to find a wig they’re comfortable with that fits their personality.

Events like the Pink Party help survivors and their families find a community that understands what they’re going through, something that can play a big part in a cancer patient’s recovery.

Just ask Omie Jean Haynes. She saw a vast difference in her sister, Minnie, after she found a community of cancer survivors to discuss her battle.

“She was so destroyed when she got the news,” said Haynes. “But when she got to see other people, see the community, it really strengthened her.”

“Everybody is where they are in this journey,” said Barron. “It’s a coming out. You’re meeting other people who have gone through the same thing. We have to celebrate life. God has blessed us to be alive and we have to give that love back to other survivors. It takes everybody.”

Barron, Sampson and the rest of Sigma Gamma Rho want to make the Pink Party an annual event for years to come.

“We want to get it established as a non-profit and have it supported through the community every year. Instead of focusing on negativity, we have to focus on the positive, on early detection and survivorship.”