Thursday night local breast cancer survivors and their loved ones gathered to honor the staff of the Newton Medical Women's Diagnostic Center, volunteers of the NMC Auxiliary and each other.
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, members of the NMC Breast Cancer Survivor Support Group pose for photographs taken by Kimberly Brown and Expressions Photography. The portraits are displayed in the windows and store fronts of downtown Covington Merchants along with a brief story of each survivors' journey from diagnosis until the present.
"I truly hope our beautiful faces of hope will continue to raise awareness not just in the month of October, but year round," said Lisa McWilliams, WDC manager.
Kay Goff, support group facilitator and director of the Hope Boutique, introduced the speakers of the night and Libby Adams, who sang inspirational songs. Adams said she was not a breast cancer survivor but her father is a cancer survivor.
"If you try to go through this battle without faith," she said. "I don't know how on earth you could do it."
Annette Nash delivered a powerful invocation and Covington Mayor Kim Carter and County Commission Chair Kathy Morgan read and signed a joint proclamation declaring October Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Covington and Newton County.
Three survivors in the support group spoke to the audience about their diagnosis, treatment and lessons they learned along the way.
Jeanette Perry urged all women to perform regular monthly breast self-exams.
"Don't take life for granted," Perry said. "Examine yourself, love yourself."
Trish Baker encouraged women and men diagnosed with cancer to be their own best advocate and learn everything they can about their disease and their treatment.
"My favorite motto then, which is the same now, is that you have to laugh in order not to cry," Baker said.
Nevada Moss' daughter Cindy Savage succumbed to her four-year bout with cancer on March 27, 2007.
"It was exactly six months later that I received my stage 1 diagnosis," Moss said.
Moss and her daughter were active participants in Relay for Life before their diagnosises, but now as a two-year survivor Moss said the event has taken on a whole new meaning. The theme of this year's Relay is "More birthdays."
NMC CEO James Weadick, also a cancer survivor, called the names of the women pictured in the Portraits of Hope as Williams and Goff handed them pale pink roses and hugged them.
"This is picture-proof that cancer is not a death sentence," Weaddick said.
Survivor Katherine Johnson encourage all in attendance to donate to the NMC's Hope Boutique which provides hats, wigs, prosthesis, counseling and more to cancer patients. She said all the money donated to the boutique stays within the county.
"We have a choice in life," Johnson said concluding the program. "We can choose to just make the journey or to make a difference."
Gifts to Newton Medical Center Auxiliary for equipment, the Hope Boutique or scholarship fund may be made in honor or memory of a loved one. Send checks made payable to NMC Auxiliary to Newton Medical Center Auxiliary, Gift of Love, 5126 Hospital Drive NE, Covington, Ga. 30014.