Inaugural breast cancer walk aimed at helping battle

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, October 21, 2017

The morning started with some Zumba.

The roughly 30 men and women who gathered at Halls Ferry Park for the inaugural breast cancer walk organized by the Believers of Faith Cancer Organization lined up and danced to get themselves warmed up. And then they walk.

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Eight-year survivor Carolyn Butler, who organized the event, walked for herself and all those she has supported and continues to support during their own fight.

Widower Jeffery Crawley walked for those who couldn’t any longer and in memory of his wife, who had lost her life to breast cancer only two months before.

Angila Parson, who has been surviving every day since 2010 when she was diagnosed with the disease, walked to support those who are fighting the disease as an example of strength.

All those gathered had stories of how breast cancer had impacted their lives through a diagnosis of their own or that of a friend or family member who had fought the disease. For one Saturday morning, they were all united by a common cause, and together they walked. 

“This walk came together because the community has been asking for us to have a community breast cancer walk for several years,” Butler said. “We’ve always supported the Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Jackson, we’ve supported the Relay for Life and walks for other organizations, but we’ve never held a walk with our organization ourself. The community has been asking for us to do a walk here.”

The event was held Saturday, Sept. 30, and included not just the walk, but also a family fun day with games, food and fellowship.

“We have people here from Terry, we have people Ridgeland and Jackson and also local residents,” Butler said. “Just to see the outpouring of love and support from local residents and the surrounding communities, because we do support surrounding communities as well, means the community is coming together to support those that are dealing with cancer. Not just breast cancer, but other cancers as well.”

The walkers were joined by Vicksburg native Mary “Cookie” Pierce, who now lives in Del Rio, Texas. She attended the walk all the way from Texas along with her brother-in-law, Horace Dixon, the chaplain for the group.

Pierce had just finished treatment the Wednesday before the walk and before the Zumba warm-up she was draped in a boxer’s robe and given pink boxing gloves to wear symbolizing her ongoing fight against the disease.

She then walked the lap around the park along with the rest of the participants.

“It is huge,” Butler said of the impact coming to events like the walk can have. “Support from your community, your peers, church members, it helps you get through as a survivor. Having that support mechanism is a huge way of getting through as well as spiritual support. It helps you get over the bridge of surviving.”

Parson fought the disease in 2010, but although her fight itself is past, to her, every day is a testament to her survival and a chance to support others who are going through the same battle.

“It means everything that is dear to life,” Parson said of being able to support others fighting the disease.

“Because being a survivor, it begins the day that you get diagnosed until the day the Lord calls you home. Every day is survivorship and to come out amongst people that are just getting started on their survivor journey, it means a lot to let them know that there is somebody out here that knows what they’re going through and somebody that will be there for you in your time of need no matter what it is. You’ve got some support in your walk and your survivorship.”

Crawley was one of those there for support, but even though the pain of losing his wife was still raw, he was also there to support others and lend them his strength.

“Two months and a few days ago, my wife died from breast cancer,” Crawley said. “If I can help any kind of way with this just being here if they need me, my wife died and I want to support this. I am going to support it any way I can.

“I am still hurting, but just being a part of this and seeing these people, some of them are breast cancer survivors and I lost my wife to it, I feel home with these people. I feel a part of them.”

Believers of Faith Cancer Organization supports those going through cancer by helping them financially if they are in need, going to appointments with them, helping them with wigs and more. Butler said she hopes to make the walk an annual event for the group.

“I could have it no other way,” Butler said of the ability to support others through their treatment. “I feel honored that God spared my life and for me to give back to others that are going through, I would have it no other way than to give back.”