By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Going three rounds for cancer awareness
Annual event celebrates survivors
cancer event pic2
The Art of Life Community Choir, led by Stephanie King, performs at the cancer awareness event at Monte Vista Chapel on Tuesday night. The choir was formed for the purpose of singing in the survivor procession of Emanuel Cancer Center’s annual women’s cancer awareness event. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN/ The Journal

Art and inspiration came together for a women’s cancer awareness event on Tuesday night. The Art of Life was hosted by Emanuel Cancer Center at Monte Vista Chapel as a free public event to raise awareness and celebrate the survivors of breast, ovarian, cervical and other cancers that impact women’s lives.

The evening’s performances were kicked off with a procession of cancer survivors. Women who have survived cancer for one day or longer wore pink feathers, hats, and other costumes in their march at Monte Vista Chapel. They were heralded by a gospel choir which came together specially for the event.

“One of the most powerful parts of this annual event is the survivor procession,” said Pennie Rorex, spokeswoman for Emanuel Medical Center. The headline performer for this year’s event was Nicole Johnson, sketch performer and author of “Fresh Brewed Life.” Johnson performed a one-woman skit she wrote that showed a first-person perspective of a breast cancer diagnosis. Johnson said that although she has not had breast cancer herself, she wrote the skit for those who do.

The skit, “Stepping into the Ring,” was well received by a packed audience at the church. Johnson used a boxing analogy to explain the struggle of dealing with cancer and everyday life. She put on boxing gloves and acted out how cancer can cause anger, and how survivors can lash out at friends and family. However, people fighting cancer are actually fighting despair. Although they may have the disease under control, survivors still struggle to get their lives back to normal and balance treatment and family.

“Disappointment, disillusion and bitterness are far harder to treat,” Johnson said.

She made the audience laugh with her frank discussion about how the loss of breasts can affect a woman’s esteem.

“I never had great breasts, but I had them… they seemed to please my husband,” Johnson said in character.

Johnson has performed at Women of Faith events and gives motivational messages. She gave a speech after her performance that offered “hope for the daily grind.”

“’Stepping into the Ring’ is a powerful look at a woman’s battle with breast cancer,” said Debbie Tuttle, Emanuel Cancer Center’s Breast Health Navigator. “It’s very moving and unforgettable, and we’re extremely fortunate to be able to have it performed by its author, Nicole Johnson.”

Following the Art of Life theme, the event also included a dance performance by two former competitors on “So You Think you Can Dance.” Melissa Sandvig and Will Wingfield performed “This Woman’s Work,” a dance about breast cancer that was performed on the show.

The message of the Art of Life was awareness and early detection of cancers affecting women’s lives. Johnson’s performance was followed by an informational video that explained Emanuel Cancer Center’s breast cancer services. Emanuel offers free breast cancer risk assessment through its breast health navigator services.

Emanuel Cancer Center’s services can be found online at To learn more about their programs, call 664-2434.

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