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Gift of Life, Philpott team to honor breast cancer survivors

 

NEDERLAND — Looking around a glass-enclosed room full of pink-clad women, Sherry Hutchison described herself as a “newbie.”

About six months had passed since she was declared cancer-free, and on Tuesday, in the packed Philpott Motors showroom, Hutchison, 63, was in good company among those who had beat the disease that affects about one in eight U.S. women during their lifetimes.

Like her 72-year-old sister Patricia Clark, who came to Nederland with her sister to participate in the annual Gift of Life and Philpott Motors Breast Cancer Survivor Breakfast, others in the room could claim more years cancer-free.

“I’ve got 16 ½ years cancer free, and am amazed at how far the treatment has come,” They’ve done so much with my sister that they could not do when I was in treatment.” Clark said.

Each year, The Julie Rogers Gift of Life and Philpott Motors team to recognize the courage, strength and spirit of those who have survived breast cancer.

“This occasion is not only enjoyable, but it touches all of our hearts,” Regina Rogers, Gift of Life founder, said. “It is beautiful to see all the survivors in this atmosphere of love, faith and hope. This is a moment in time four us to applaud our survivors and also remember those who have succumbed to the disease.”

Mary Williams, 47, of Beaumont; Jacqueline Reno, 51, of Beaumont; and Shelia Stelly, 53, of Cheek, have much in common.

The trio of friends are all from the tiny community of Cheek, where they attended school; they are all around the same age, and, perhaps most bonding, are all survivors of the disease that is expected to claim the lives of 40,290 U.S. women in 2015.

“We are all from Cheek, but we branched out. We’ve all had breast cancer,” Williams, the most recent to join her friends in the survivors circle with five years cancer free, said.

“It is awesome to be alive,” Reno, a 15-year survivor, said.

Stelly, a 28-year survivor, was the first to be diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 21 years old.

At the time, Stelly’s doctor was amazed she had the disease at such a young age, and started her on a round of chemotherapy, she said.

“Back when I first got started, the chemo they gave me made me so sick,” Stelly said. Today, through advancements in treatment, Williams did not have to under go the side effects that her friends did, she said.

Though treatment has advanced, Williams said the best medicine is her two friends.

“These two right here, Jackie and Shelia, they are my recovery,” Williams said.

This year was not the first time the trio attended the breast cancer survivors breakfast.

“We’ve been several times and are just grateful for the Gift of Life because they gave us the gift of life,” Williams said.

E-mail:sherry.koonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews