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Luncheon benefits Boutique
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Members of the Newton Medical Center Auxiliary held a luncheon Tuesday to benefit the Hope Boutique — a unique service that provides prosthesis, wigs, turbans, pressure pillows and more to breast cancer surgery, chemo and radiation patients.

Started five years ago by cancer survivor and NMC volunteer Kay Goff, the boutique has assisted more than 300 patients.

"Right now, I’m doing more counseling than anything," said Goff.

According to Goff, the recession has caused more families to use the boutique. Job losses mean a loss of insurance, which renders many patients unable to pay for necessary care let alone extras such as scarves and wigs.

"Young survivors pop on a ball cap and go on with their life," Goff said. "But, if a lady is past 55, then she probably doesn’t like to go to church without hair."

Luncheon guests were treated to a fashion show put on by cancer survivors who belong to one of the two NMC support groups. The ladies wore outfits provided by the Cinderella Shop — a consignment shop that benefits NMC — and jewelry from the hospital’s gift shop, The Wishing Well. The women’s personal stories of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery are featured in shop windows of downtown merchants as part of the Portraits of Hope annual project.

Lisa McWilliams, director of NMC’s Women’s Diagnostic Center, said that while national rates of breast cancer occurrence are going down, Newton County’s numbers remain slightly higher than Georgia’s rates of occurrence.

"So we are getting there," McWilliams said, "but we still have more work to do."

Cancer survivor and volunteer Katherine Johnson urged guests to perform monthly self-exams and encourage their loved ones to do the same.

"It’s important that you love yourself enough to take care of you," Johnson said.

Goff said that patients are not alone in their journey to recovery and said the support groups that she helps facilitate are not sad affairs. Each session begins with the question, "what did you celebrate this month?"

"A cancer diagnosis strips away what we think to be important," said Johnson, "and shows us what truly is."

For more information or to donate to the Hope Boutique, Cinderella Shop or NMC Auxiliary, call the hospital’s volunteer services office at (770) 788-6553.