A celebration of courage and life drew a crowd of 60 people Saturday, Oct. 20, as the Navy Exchange at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, hosted a cancer awareness tea for survivors, their caretakers and family members.
Several cancer survivors took the microphone to urge those in the audience to get checked for signs of the disease, stressing that early detection is the key to survival.
Don’t be fooled, they said, by all the pretty pink decorations that come out in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“Cancer isn’t pink, it’s not fluffy and it’s not pretty,” said Norma Creech, operations manager at the NEX and a cancer survivor. “It’s very ugly.”
Ashley Flores, the granddaughter of Dawn Smith-Ferguson, services manager at the NEX, talked about what it was like to lose a family member to cancer. Her father died just seven months after being diagnosed with leukemia, and she wonders if he’d be around to watch her grow up if he’d gone to a doctor earlier.
“If something doesn’t feel right,” Ashley said, “trust your instincts.”
Survivors talked about the importance of keeping a positive attitude and refusing to let cancer take over everyday activities.
“You can overcome what you want to overcome,” said Helen Young of Moorpark, an 11-year breast cancer survivor who was invited to the event by a friend who works at the NEX.
NEX employees gave pink roses to each of the survivors and their caretakers in the audience.
Afterwards, they sang “Happy Birthday” in recognition of each year of survival.
“I think this was awesome,” Smith-Ferguson said as the festivities were winding down. “Now we can start getting excited about next year.”