Group fights cancer with laughter

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Attitude is everything when battling breast cancer, said the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s Pink Dress Luncheon, an event honoring the roughly 1 in 100 Mississippians who develop or die from the disease each year.
More than 250 participants – almost all dressed in pink – attended the event sponsored by North Mississippi Medical Center’s Spirit of Women at the Summit Center.
It was made possible by a grant from Komen North Mississippi’s Race for the Cure.
“Breast cancer has invaded my body, but it has not invaded my spirit,” said Cynthia Stuart, a breast cancer survivor from Pelahatchie who entertained the crowd with her positive and often humorous outlook on the disease.
Stuart, whose mother died from breast cancer at age 40, said she always knew she’d develop the disease. It was just a matter of when. The moment eventually came eight years ago. Her doctor called with the news one day as she was getting her hair done. It all seemed like a blur, she said.
A few weeks later, Stuart had a double mastectomy. It was Sept. 11, 2003 – the day her “personal twin towers fell,” she joked.
Stuart said she then realized her choices: Either feel sorry for herself or live life to the fullest each day. She chose the latter.
“There are a lot of things I can do without,” she said, “and my tatas are two of them.”
Participants roared with laughter numerous times during Stuart’s presentation, during which she sang, read poetry and invited the women to admire her fake breasts afterward in the ladies’ bathroom.
“The event was fantastic,” said Tupelo cancer survivor Deletha Norris, who modeled Coldwater Creek clothing in a fashion show after Stuart’s presentation.
“The reason I am a survivor,” Norris said, “is because of my attitude.”
Another event participant, Rosemary Comer, said Stuart’s comments provided encouragement to a host of people battling the disease.
“It’s important to make people realize that it’s not always the end of the world to get breast cancer,” said Comer, who volunteers at the Women First Resource Center for cancer survivors. “This whole event was very informative.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.