OHIO VALLEY — A large group of people who belong to the club nobody ever wants to join recently gathered to raise breast cancer awareness during the Third Annual Walk for Women in Point Pleasant.
The Walk for Women, sponsored by the Mason County Community Educational Outreach Service Clubs (CEOS), raised over $4,000 for the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Diagnostic Fund.
Survivors were given pink carnations and an honorary place at the start of the walk where Marilyn Higginbotham, breast cancer survivor and member of the Pleasant CEOS Club, cut the ribbon. As soon as Higginbotham cut the ribbon, a throng of people in pink filed down Main Street, following the route which took a turn at First St. and rerouted the walkers back to Fifth St. to complete the course.
As the walkers arrived back to their starting place, many didn’t notice two were still walking the course at their own pace, including Higginbotham and fellow breast cancer survivor Anna Dunlap of Leon. Though Higginbotham and Dunlap started the race at the front of the line, it didn’t seem to matter to them how they finished, only that they finished.
Dunlap, a survivor of multiple types of cancers, walked alongside her daughter Dorothy and had to stop a few times along the route. Still, Anna was determined to finish and finish she did even though when she arrived back at the starting point, she had to use her oxygen — reminding all who took a moment to notice, what it means to persevere.
As for Higginbotham, she was accompanied along the route by fellow Pleasant CEOS Club Members Ann Byus and Yvonne Fetty. With Byus and Fetty at her side, Higginbotham steadily made her way along the course. As she walked, she shared she was a 20-year breast cancer survivor. She said when she was first diagnosed, she didn’t want to take chemotherapy but her doctor told her if she didn’t, she’d die. So, she accepted what was in front of her and like so many other women, did what she needed to do to get another day, until those days had added up to 20 years and counting. She is quick to say “praise the Lord” for a higher power seeing her through it all. She also said it was important to talk about breast cancer and get the word out about treatments — spreading the word also spreads the success stories of the women it affects.
Of course, not all stories involving breast cancer end on a happy note which is why the need to find a cure, and raising money for that cure, is essential. Before the race began, walkers heard from Wendy Lilly, founder of Charlie’s Angels, a local advocacy group that promotes breast cancer awareness and raises funds to fight the disease. Lilly spoke to those gathered about her sister, Charlie, who lost her battle with breast cancer and the need to keep pushing to improve the lives of those affected by the disease.
In addition, an invocation from Pastor Boxer Swisher was given and the Kountry Kritters 4-H Club passed out free water to walkers on the route. Also integral to the walk, the assistance of the Mason County Health Department and staff.