By Michaela Gibson Morris
TUPELO – A year and two snow storms later, nurse and breast cancer survivor Lillie Shockney finally got her chance to tickle Tupelo pink.
Shockney is a registered nurse who was set to come to the 2013 Pretty in Pink breast cancer awareness lunch when a winter storm derailed air travel.
Ten inches of snow threatened her second trip, too.
“When I saw there was a winter storm warning in the northeast I was sweating bullets,” said Liz Dawson, director of NMMC Community Health, which organizes the Spirit of Women events.
But Shockney, who serves as the administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center in Baltimore, made it to Tupelo at 3 a.m. Tuesday, in time to have the 172 women who came to the 2014 Pretty in Pink luncheon howling over tales of breast prostheses that didn’t stay put and her then-12-year-old daughter’s suggestion that they put her amputated breast in a pickle jar.
From a family friend, Ms. Bertha, who survived metastatic breast cancer decades ago, Shockney learned three key lessons:
• Have a good oncology team;
• Be optimistic as long as it’s realistic;
• Laugh every day.
“Ms. Bertha was 35 years ahead of science,” Shockney said, noting research has shown that laughter, in fact, stimulates the immune system.
There were serious moments, too, as Shockney talked about her cancer journey. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer before she was 40. She had a cyst removed from her right breast, and the doctor recommended getting a baseline mammogram. The mammogram found suspicious areas in her left breast that turned out to be cancer.
“I do believe the mammogram saved your life,” Shockney remembered the surgeon telling her.