Looking around the showroom floor at Philpott Motors early Thursday morning, it was evident something more than selling cars was going on.
Instead of shiny new vehicles, there were shining faces — a room full of breast cancer survivors, their friends and relatives who had come out to celebrate beating a disease that has claimed so many.
Philpott Motors partnered with the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program to honor those survivors, and to bring awareness to a disease that will be responsible this year in claiming the lives of an estimated 39,620 women, according to the latest data published by the American Cancer Society.
Breast cancer, the second leading cause of death in women, can be beat, as evidenced by the many survivors attending the second annual Breast Cancer Survivor Breakfast.
Survivor Barbara Matthews, 74, of Beaumont attended the event for the first time this year along with her son, 55-year-old Willie Knighton.
“It’s just a joy being here with her today,” Knighton said.
After all, there was a time when she might not have.
Two years ago Matthews was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she credits her healing in part to advancements in treatment, it was her faith in God, coupled with the prayers of family, friends and her church that provided the support she needed.
“I was devastated at first, but thank God I made it through,” she said.
Since her recovery, Matthews has become active with the American Red Cross, volunteering to drive others suffering from the disease back and forth to their medical appointments.
Susan Schultz, 65, of Beaumont, a two-time survivor, was also in attendance, along with her husband, Russ Schultz. 66.
The recently-retired Beaumont ISD second grade teacher was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, then again in 2002.
Her husband is also a survivor of prostrate cancer, a disease he battled and successfully won three years ago.
“You deal with what God gives you and just step up and take care of it,” Russ Schultz said.
From her own fight with breast cancer, Susan Schultz has learned the best cure is early detection.
“You do your self exams If you find something and are not sure, have it checked out. Don’t wait. If it turns out to be cancer have faith that everything will work out,” she said.
In addition to hosting the breakfast, Philpott plans to make a $50 donation for every car sold at the dealership during the month of October, Bob Thewman, Philpott general manager, said.
“Gift of Life” founder Regina Rogers praised the survivors.
“It is extremely touching to come here this morning and see all the survivors. It is a difficult illness because primarily you feel so beaten up from the treatment,” Rogers said. “We feel so grateful on a daily basis for being in a position to help.”