There was a wild time in Old Snellville on Thursday, Oct. 25. Angela Benton, Beverly Rutledge, Dr. Tracey McElveen and Jason Martin are familiar faces to all of us who are dealing or have dealt with cancer treatment through Radiotherapy Clinic of Georgia on Presidential Circle.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, RCOG invited all its BC patients to a Ladies Night Out. About 60 women and a few very brave men attended.
Margaret Murphy, Regional Director of Operations of RCOG, was the hostess supported by an outstanding cast. Scott Lynch handled many of the arrangements and was the go-to person for the evening. Beverly Rutledge, Office Manager, and nurse Angela Benton, my personal angel during my time under the gun, pulled the party together and Dr. Tracey McElveen, RCOG‘s radiation oncologist, choreographed the fashion show. Local writer Cheryl Copeland was the testimonial speaker. She is as funny in person as she is in print. The delicious food was catered by Lindsey Payne of Lindsey’s Culinary Market.
You don’t know what celebration is until you get a group of women who have beat breast cancer together. Throw some food and wine into the mix and you have a party.
Who was your surgeon? How did you find it? What kind? What degree? What do you have left? When did you finish treatment? Standard questions at all social gatherings, right? Those are pretty typical conversation starters for BC survivors.
Eight women met on Wednesday night for a rehearsal of the fashion show on Thursday. We just happened to be the first people who called in confirming we were attending. The fact that we were possibly the eight craziest women who had been through the center had nothing to do with it. We weren’t chosen for any other reason. We had such a good time learning to “walk this way” under Dr. McElveen’s supervision that the building was rocking.
I am sorry to report that Dr. McElveen’s attempts at teaching us all the Dior Turns wasn’t a great success, but we all strutted our stuff pretty well anyway!
I have to mention that the eight of us were provided some clothing and accessories from Peter’s Patch at the Avenue. Lisa worked with each of us individually to choose our outfits. KD, Austin and Dawn from Salon 124 did our hair and make-up the night of the festivities. I don’t think those three young women were prepared for us. After all, we should have been nice little middle aged ladies. HA! The make-overs were fun, but the best was the laughter among us all.
When you have been through what we have, you can walk buck-nekkid (that’s naked for those of you who are not familiar with the local language) down Highway 124 and not care. It might scare the hell out of the drivers, but it doesn’t faze us anymore. There is new meaning to “Tough Titties” after breast cancer. We got ‘em and we know how to laugh about them.
Patsy Reeves introduced herself with, “This is how much hair you grow in a year. Can you do anything with it?” Jackie Allen, an X-ray technician at Eastside who is currently dealing with treatment for the Big BC, chose “Brick House” as her song for the fashion show. She hilariously told us stories and taught us new dance steps. Kathy Slaton danced her way down the red carpet as every person stood in awe.
Elizabeth Urbanski is a parapro with the special needs program at Brookwood High School. She completed her radiation therapy only a few days ago. Elizabeth and I shared several common interests, including the same type and treatment of breast cancer and work with special needs children. She wore gorgeous pleated palazzo pants with a grey asymmetrical sweater that all of us wanted.
Susan Little, who has had a double mastectomy and reconstruction, is one of the Eastside nurses that holds your hand (and your sanity) while you are being prepped for surgery. She knew every one of us and laughingly told us that none of us remembered her. She said we were too scared, too overwhelmed with what was happening to know who was holding our hand. Her song was “Walk This Way.” What an appropriate song for someone so vivacious who held all our hands as we prepared to meet the surgeons.
Elvira Rinderer, originally from Cuba, made the United States her home in 1959. Elvira’s song was chosen for her. What was it? “Elvira”, of course. She had never heard it until rehearsal, but trust me, she put the fire in your heart with her rendition down the pink runway.
Jill Cunico was the closer to our fashion show. “I Will Survive” was her song. How fitting as Jill declared herself the winner of the Cancer Trifecta. She has beaten two cancers and now is dealing with leukemia. I promise you, she hasn’t given up. I wish you could have seen her dancing with Jason Martin, who works at RCOG. None of us were sure what his official job title is, but we all agree that he should be kept around to just pretty up the place!
As Jill’s choice of music says, “I Will Survive.” All of us that night had faced breast cancer and been through treatments and surgery. We have made it days, weeks and years and we know that hearing,” You have breast cancer", takes your breath away. We also know that our own fortitude, support from our loved ones and daring new science will breathe life into our future.
Survivors—you can bet your tough titties on it.
Many thanks to the sponsors of RCOG Ladies Night Out:
Eastside Medical Center
Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia-Snellville
Lindsey’s Culinary Market