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Atkins Foundation unveils 'Wall of Hope' display at RMC

BC survivors who's photos are on the KCAF Foundation "Wall of Hope". Back Row-Brenda Edwards, Sandra Tucker, LaVerne Hicks, Cathy Harris, Elly Dalton, Chris Martin, Shelia Ezell. Front Row-Brenda Chupp, Jane Scott, Linda Merryman. Not Pictured-Lynne Oliver. 

BC survivors who's photos are on the KCAF Foundation "Wall of Hope". Back Row-Brenda Edwards, Sandra Tucker, LaVerne Hicks, Cathy Harris, Elly Dalton, Chris Martin, Shelia Ezell. Front Row-Brenda Chupp, Jane Scott, Linda Merryman. Not Pictured-Lynne Oliver. 

CONYERS -- Twelve portraits hang on the wall near the Women's Diagnostic Center at Rockdale Medical Center and each one has a different story to tell but all with the same message -- Hope.

RMC officials and the Kimberley Chance Atkins Foundation unveiled the Wall of Hope display Thursday evening at the hospital which includes portraits of 12 local breast cancer survivors. KACF executive director Brenda Edwards said the intent is to not only honor those who faced cancer and beat it but also to provide hope to others facing the disease.

"You'll notice on the wall it has the name on the photo but there's not a number like a 3-year survivor or 10-year survivor because we know all women have been through different aspects of breast cancer where some have had just radiation, some may have had chemo some may have had a mastectomy," Edwards said.

"There's so many different avenues that women as individuals suffer and experience (breast cancer) individually, but yet we wanted to recognized them as a group who all have the spirit of hope in them in that they are going to continue the fight and are there for other women."

The 12 women represent a wide scope of the community and includes teachers, a financial advisor, RMC employees, grandmothers, aunts and daughters. One Wall of Hope subject recently finished her chemotherapy.

The women are Edwards, Sandra Tucker, LaVerne Hicks, Cathy Harris, Elly Dalton, Chris Martin, Shelia Ezell, Brenda Chupp, Jane Scott, Linda Merryman, Lana Bailey and Lynne Oliver. The portraits will be updated each year with new breast cancer survivors.

Edwards said she believes the Wall of Hope display will have a wider impact and bring awareness to residents on how much breast cancer affects the community. Edwards said she saw examples of that during the time she helped hang the portraits on the wall.

"While I was climbing up and down the ladder people were coming in and looking at it and they were saying 'I know that lady,' or 'I didn't know she had breast cancer,' so it was really neat that these people are going to be recognized as women come in to get their mammograms," Edwards said. "I think that's what we're hoping to do that someone who knows them can say something or commend them or even ask them questions."

The Wall of Hope unveiling was held in conjunction with RMC's extended hours during Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the Women's Diagnosis Center to allow working women to get routine mammograms without losing time from work.

The event was also a kick off of the KCAF's free mammogram voucher program.

The program begins Tuesday and will provide vouchers for a free mammogram at RMC for uninsured and underinsured women in Rockdale County. The county's health department will screen for patients where they will be examined, given information on self breast examination and given a reference to the hospital for a mammogram.

Rockdale County is the first community to use the KCAF's voucher program which is funded through grants and fund raising events throughout the year such as the KCAF's annual tennis tournament in August and chili cook off in October. The foundation looks to expand the voucher program to other communities in the future.