“Gift of Life” and TOTAL Celebrate Survivorship for Valentine’s Day
Beaumont, Texas – Love was in the air as the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program honored more than 200 breast, prostate, ovarian and other gynecological cancer survivors at its annual Valentine Survivors Celebration at the Parkdale Mall Garden Court on Valentine’s Day.
“The National Cancer Foundation defines a 'survivor' as anyone living with a history of cancer from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life, and we come together today to celebrate the courage and determination that have made each of you a survivor,” said “Gift of Life” Board President Nell McCallum Morris. “We have learned that in the fight against cancer, we must be ambitious, fearless and united, and the ‘Gift of Life’ is dedicated to continuing its mission of saving lives.”
The event, which was generously sponsored by TOTAL Port Arthur Refinery and emceed by Fox 4 News Director Angel San Juan, recognized survivors who have fought valiantly in the battle against cancer and also paid tribute to individuals and companies whose efforts fortify the program’s cancer initiatives.
“We are proud and honored to be a part of an organization like the ‘Gift of Life’ that impacts so many lives throughout Southeast Texas,” said TOTAL Port Arthur Refinery EDMS Project Manager Gail Labath. TOTAL’s critical assistance, both individually and through its partnership with BASF FINA Petrochemicals, LP in Miracle Match for Life, has made available more than 1,000 free mammograms and helped extend the lives of ten women who were diagnosed with breast cancer and navigated through treatment.
Guest speakers were Jane McBride, an eight-year breast cancer survivor; Norma Forey, a four-year ovarian cancer survivor; and Donald Taft, a 15-year prostate cancer survivor, who each shared their personal stories of hope and the importance of early detection through lifesaving screenings.
A talented author and columnist, McBride has been an inspiration to Southeast Texans by publicly sharing her breast cancer journey to increase awareness. Additionally, McBride is a dedicated “Gift of Life” volunteer and has served for two consecutive years as co-chair of the “Gift of Life” breast cancer survivor project, BRA-vo! Applause for the Cause.
“I am so pleased and honored to share my story with you all because I want you to know how much you are loved and supported by the ‘Gift of Life,’” McBride said. “This program was started as an act of love, and everything it does continues the mission of saving lives.”
A strong advocate for men’s health, Taft has been an instrumental part of the “Gift of Life’s” Prostate Cancer Support Group Steering Committee and has devoted countless hours volunteering at the program’s prostate cancer screenings and educational outreach programs.
“Thanks to the ‘Gift of Life,’ we have a support group where men who have faced prostate cancer can get together and share our experiences, and that is very important,” Taft said. “This organization has so much to offer and does so much good in the community. I’m proud to be involved.”
A long-time supporter of the “Gift of Life,” Forey was inspired to share her courageous battle with ovarian cancer after participating in a Sidney “Chief” Dauphin Educational Outreach Program held at their company, Talon Insurance. Forey was pleased to learn the “Gift of Life” expanded its mission to include the Julie Richardson Procter Ovarian Cancer Educational Awareness Initiative, which provides extensive educational outreach pertaining to ovarian and other gynecological cancers for high school seniors, adult women and medical professionals.
“The ‘Gift of Life’ offers so many resources, such as vital educational cancer outreach materials and support groups, and from my personal experience with the disease, I am positive the program’s new information on ovarian cancer will make a significant impact,” Forey said. “Southeast Texas is blessed to have an organization like the ‘Gift of Life’ that meets so many diverse needs, and if I can help one person by telling my story, I will have made a difference.”
Honored as “Gift of Life” Sweethearts were Charline Dauphin, Sallye Keith and Aileen Larson. Also recognized for their commitment to the organization were “Gift of Life” Medical Network supporters and Mobile Mammography Van and Breast Cancer Initiative sponsors (see attached complete listing).
“It makes me feel great to see so many survivors happy and having a wonderful time,” Dauphin said. “I feel blessed to be a part of this event.”
In acknowledgment of the “Gift of Life’s” significant milestone of having provided more than 20,000 free mammograms since 1994, the organization made a surprise presentation to the 20,000th mammogram recipient, Elaine Landrum, RN.
“The best decision I ever made was to go to the ‘Gift of Life’ for my mammogram because I had so many wonderful and compassionate people care for me,” Landrum said. “Please help, support and sustain this program in any way you can.”
The celebration was highlighted by an uplifting musical performance from vocalist Stacey Savino and heartwarming testaments of hope as each participant came to the microphone to proclaim his or her name and years of survivorship.
Guests enjoyed fun door prizes and lunch from Chick-fil-A Parkdale, Beaumont Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Blue Bell Creameries, L.P. and Great American Cookie Company.
Last year, the “Gift of Life” helped extend the lives of 18 women and four men who were diagnosed with breast or prostate cancer and navigated through treatment. Since the program’s inception, nearly 200 individuals have been diagnosed with breast or prostate cancer following free “Gift of Life” screenings and provided access to treatment.
Applications are currently being accepted for free “Gift of Life” mammograms and prostate cancer screenings. To find out if you qualify, please call the “Gift of Life” at (409) 833-3663 or toll-free (877)720-GIFT (4438). Appointments are necessary as space is limited.
For more information, call the “Gift of Life” at (409) 833-3663 or visit giftoflifebmt.org.
You can view the list of sponsors here.
Photo 1: Guest speakers, Norma Forey, an ovarian cancer survivor; Donald Taft, a prostate cancer survivor; and Jane McBride, a breast cancer survivor; each shared their personal stories of hope at the "Gift of Life" Survivors Celebration.
Photo 2: The "Gift of Life" Executive Committee extends its heartfelt appreciation to Survivors Celebration sponsor TOTAL Port Arthur Refinery, represented by Gail Labath. (Left to right - The Revd. Dean Calcote, Marty Craig, Connie Szuch, Linda Domino, Gail Labath, Alberta Jones, Nell McCallum Morris, Dora Nisby and Regina Rogers).