By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor
This Monday, Oct. 1 was Relay for Life of Plant City’s Kickoff party. The First Baptist Church of Plant City was buzzing with supporters, caregivers and survivors all ready to raise money, organize teams and fight back against cancer, a disease that about 12 million Americans battle.
The honorary survivors this year are Angie Rollyson and Autumn Parrish, two sisters who were diagnosed with cancer this year just months apart. Their grandmother, Martha Hodge, was also diagnosed this year.
It’s an understatement to say this family has had a rough year. Long nights in the hospital, chemotherapy treatments and painful surgeries became new family activities. But through all the tears and fears, the family has survived by supporting each other and keeping their faith in God.
Parrish’s story particularly struck me.
On April 24, Parrish woke up with swollen lumps in her neck. The next thing she knew, she was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of lymphocytes, a type of cell in the immune system which are located in lymph nodes in the throat and underarms.
Parrish is just 21-years-old.
I’ve never lost a family member to cancer. Unbelievably, I haven’t known many friends or even acquaintances with cancer. There’s really only two people in my life that have dodged cancer; My grandfather and myself.
My grandfather survived lymphoma twice. That’s why during a checkup for a sore throat in high school, my doctor asked me about my tonsils. The left side of my tonsils was freakishly large, I mean completely swollen. They could have been a sideshow in their own circus.
I don’t exactly remember when they first became swollen. Since I could remember I always had sore throats and tender tonsils. From my perspective, my giant tonsils helped me sing in the shower, make the elementary school honor choir and rock karaoke.
My doctor immediately set me up to get them taken out, along with a couple of abcesses, a collection of pus that forms near an area of infected soft tissue, in this case next to my left tonsil.
They tested the abcesses and tonsils for cancer. I chose not to think about what the results would be. Instead I focused on recovering from my tonsillectomy by stuffing my face with ice cream and being positive.
The results came back clear. I did not have lymphoma. I had dodged cancer.
Of course my story doesn’t even amount to Parrish’s amazing tale of survival. She’s had to undergo heavy doses of chemo. She’s had to see her family members fall to the same disease she was battling. She’s had to watch her mother’s heart break.
Parrish is now in remission. A success story. And now she is healthy enough to fight cancer in a different way; Walking the track overnight during Plant City’s Relay for Life on April 19, almost a year since she was fist diagnosed.
"Mean Girls" fashion coincidentally supports breast cancer awareness
October is breast cancer awareness month, symbolized by pink, and a new tradition is taking place today among all those who are fans of the 2004 comedy, “Mean Girls.”
Written by Tina Fey, the movie was geared at poking fun of high school cliches. Lindsay Lohan stars as Cady, a new student who grew up with her family of zoologists in Africa and has been home schooled all her life. She meets three popular girls, known as “Plastics,” who rule the school.
The “Plastics” have a particular dress code. They can only wear jeans on Friday and their hair in a ponytail once a week.
“On Wednesdays we wear pink,” Karen, one of the “Plastics,” said.
This has spurred a whole generation of trendy fashionistas and bloggers to post pictures on Twitter, tumblr. and Instagram of themselves and followers dressed in pink on Wednesdays.
But another quote has been pulled from the movie. In one scene, Cady is asked by her crush, Aaron, what day of the week it is in class.
“It’s October 3,” Cady responds.
And so, "National Mean Girls Day" was born.
"National Mean Girls Day" won’t fall on a pink Wednesday for another six years. This has created an internet sensation this year, sparking fans of “Mean Girls” to embrace the trend and support not only their beloved movie, but breast cancer awareness month as well.
I supported my fandom for "Mean Girls" and my even bigger idolization of those who have fought, survived or fallen from breast cancer by wearing a pink pencil skirt to work today.
And all those wearing pink, whether it's today or the rest of this month, look so "fetch."
Relay for Life Sign Ups
Visit relayforlife.org/plantcityfl or call Joanie at 813-713-8876.
For more about Plant City’s Relay for Life and sisters Autumn and Angie read "Plant City laces up for Relay for Life" in the Thursday, Oct. 4 edition of the Plant City Observer.