Local dance event aids cancer survivors

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Three cancer survivors received checks after the Blessed Body and Fitness gym’s second annual fundraiser “dancing for a cure” on Sunday.

According to Blessed Body and Fitness owner Pamela Whitlow-Holloway, two survivors received a $500 check and another received a $100 check.

The goal of the event is to spread awareness and raise money for cancer survivors with the $10 admission fee. Though many community members couldn’t make it out to the event, Holloway said the event received enough donations for the checks.

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Though last year focused on breast cancer, this year’s motto was “whatever color cancer sucks.” Holloway encouraged visitors to wear the color that represents any cancer that they chose. Many wore pink for breast cancer, including Team WHIP Founder Narfunda Ross. Holloway wore a rainbow tutu.

“I’m so excited about this event. It’s dear to my heart because it’s so much been going on and so many people hurting so much,” Holloway said during the event. “We need to spread awareness. We need to encourage one another. We need to keep praying for one another.”

Representatives from Team WHIP (Working to Help Those in Pink), Operation Wipe Out, Equitable Neighborhood Initiative and other healthcare advocacy groups came out to support the event.

Ross, a 15-year survivor of breast cancer, encouraged the group of dancers to participate in the Wisdom Study at University of Alabama at Birmingham. The study is working on looking for a cure to triple negative breast cancer.

“With breast cancer, we don’t have a cure yet,” Ross said. “We’re far-fetched from having a cure. But what we as individuals can do is take part have heard it is called The Wisdom Study.”

Those interested in participating can sign a release allowing the study to use their medical records for research.

Eastside School nurse Sarah Bryan spoke about Operation Wipe Out, an organization advocating for HPV vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer.

“Sadly, cervical cancer has the highest rate of mortality deaths,” Bryan said. “We are third in the nation for highest rate of mortality deaths from cervical cancer, and cervical cancer is special because we have found a way to almost 100% prevent it, and that is with your HPV vaccine.”

Bryan said the Alabama Department of Public Health offers free screenings for HPV. People can receive the vaccine up until the age of 26.

“I love this community,” Bryan said during the event. “This community has some of the best women I have ever met in my life.”

According to Outreach Testing Coordinator Michelle Mitchell at the Unity Wellness Center, HIV is only detectable by getting tested. The center offers free screenings and programs for treatment for HIV and AIDS.

“HIV is something that we don’t talk about anymore, but it’s still around and the numbers are still going up, especially in Chambers County,” Mitchell said. “The only way to know that you have HIV is to do testing.”