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Cancer survivors find strength in numbers at annual event
cancer event pic1
Women who have survived cancer for anywhere from one day to more than 30 years proceed down the aisle of Monte Vista Chapel on Tuesday night to the applause of friends and family. The survivors processional was part of Emanuel Medical Centers 14th annual Womens Cancer Awareness Event. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN / The Journal

Emanuel Medical Center and the Turlock community celebrated cancer survivors with an evening of inspiration at the 14th annual Women’s Cancer Awareness event. The evening was headlined by motivational speaker Geralyn Lucas, who wrote the book “Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy.”

The evening started with a procession of cancer survivors through Monte Vista Chapel. The group included women who have survived cancer anywhere from one day to more than 30 years. Cynthia Mattson, an oncology nurse from Emanuel Medical Center, marched with the 30+ year survivor group. She has been a survivor of Hodgkin’s disease for 34 years. She said that last year she met women who were excited to join the 30+ year survivor group in 2011.

“They’re looking to us, and that’s why we keep coming back,” Mattson said.

After the procession, survivors and their friends and family members heard the inspiring story of Lucas’ journey through breast cancer. Lucas was 27 years old and a producer with “20/20” when she found a lump in her breast during a self exam. Lucas had no family history of cancer and credits awareness campaigns with her early diligence. She decided to document the journey through her diagnosis and thus the idea for her book was born. “Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy” was published in 2004 and Lucas became a touchstone of young cancer survivors.

The Women’s Cancer Awareness Event was “sold out” this year. The event is always free, but tickets must be reserved in advance. The event has grown by word of mouth when cancer survivors attend and tell their friends about the event.

Linda Lee of Turlock took part in the cancer survivor procession as an 11 year survivor of cancer. She attended the event last year and decided to come again this year. She brought her friend Soon-mee Lorenz, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy. They both said the event brought them a sense of kinship with other cancer survivors.

“When you have cancer, you can feel like you’re all alone. When you see all of these people you say ‘I’m not the only one,’” Lee said.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.