Time to think pink
Pink Sisterhood gathers to promote breast cancer awareness, detection

CONYERS - Some women, and a few men, sported pink boas and scarves Thursday night at the Celtic Tavern in Conyers.

It was trivia night at the Olde Town watering hole, but nothing was trivial about the reason everyone gathered that evening. The event was held in coordination with the "Frosted Pink With A Twist" program to air 4 to 6 p.m. today on WSB-TV.

Though October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the program and its partners look to also raise awareness of both breast and gynecological cancers.

Donations for breast cancer research were accepted at Thursday's gathering, but Holly Sammons of the Celtic Tavern said the night was also meant to remind everyone of the importance of a regular mammography to check for breast cancer.

The group of women organizing the local event is called LIPS - Ladies In Pink Sisterhood. The group consists of eight friends who are easily spotted wearing pink or sporting T-shirts saying, "Save the Ta-Ta's."

"We're the best of friends and we want to grow old together," Sammons said. "The husbands can tag along, if they want to."

The message of early detection was brought home by Betsy Davenport of Covington. Davenport is one of the LIPS sisters and is a double cancer survivor. She survived Hodgkin's lymphoma, which she contracted 30 years ago, and has been a breast cancer survivor for six years.

Davenport said she was dedicated to having annual mammography exams because of her past experience and her family history of breast cancer. Both her grandmother and great-grandmother died from the disease. It was during one of those exams when her doctor discovered a small mass.

"I didn't feel anything, I felt healthy and there really was no indication I had breast cancer before that exam," said Davenport, who is a computer science teacher at Livingston Elementary School in Newton County.

Davenport said it was an aggressive form of cancer. She went through chemotherapy and eventually had a mastectomy. She credited her husband, family and friends as playing a big part in her recovery.

"It was the three F's - faith, family and friends," she said. "I don't know what would have happened if I didn't have that support."

Davenport said she went ahead and shaved her head before she started losing it from the chemotherapy. "I would walk into a restaurant and see all of these bald men, and nobody bats an eye," she said. "When I walked in bald-headed, everything came to a stop and everybody was watching me."

Some of her LIPS friends offered to shave their heads in support, but Davenport declined the offer. However, her group of friends made a field trip of sorts with her to find wigs she could wear.

Sammons, who has known Davenport since high school, said she was the inspiration for the Frosted Pink event.

"She handled it with grace, and she didn't let breast cancer stop her," Sammons said. "She kept on going to work and didn't mope around."

Much progress has been made in breast cancer research since awareness programs started over 20 years ago. Incident rates for breast cancer in women stabilized from 2001-03, ending increases that began in the 1980s.

Still, a woman in the United States has a 1 in 8 chance of developing invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. If gynecological cancers are included - ovarian, cervical, endometrial and others - the chances go up to 1 in 3 women.

Overall, there are more than a million women diagnosed with women's cancers each year. Of the 10.1 million cancer survivors living in the United States today, 5.6 million are women, according to the National Cancer Institute.

For more information on the Frosted Pink With A Twist program and its partners, go to www.frostedpink.org.