Benefit battles breast cancer

Friday, August 17, 2007
Renee Powell (left) and Tamara Smith (right) are co-hostesses of the 12th annual Horizon of Hope Program to be held Sunday at Peoples Bank. The afternoon will feature cancer survivor Debbie Rogers as guest speaker. The program is sponsored by Longaberger Basket Company. (T-G Photo by René A. Capley)

Sunday afternoon is for reclining, reflecting and basically catching up for the week ahead.

"This Sunday afternoon," said Tamara Smith, the co-hostess of the event, "is for awareness, education and spreading hometown support to those with cancer."

The Horizons of Hope is an annual event in Bedford County. Begun over 12 years ago, the afternoon event brings awareness of breast cancer with community-based speakers. Sponsored by the Longaberger Basket Company, the event nationally has raised $12 million since 1995 for cancer research.

"We've had a number of survivors throughout the years to speak to our audience," said Renee Powell, co-hostess. "The afternoon is fun but there are also some tears as the speakers shares her story."

Debbie Rogers is this year's speaker.

"In March 2006, I was diagnosed with breast cancer," she said. "It didn't start with a lump but with a very heavy, full feeling. I want women -- and men -- to know that it isn't always a lump that lets you know there is something wrong.'"

Rogers said that breast cancer is not just a female disease.

"My uncle and my aunt both died of breast cancer," Rogers said. "My uncle did not have any idea what was wrong with him until it was too late to do anything to help him survive."

Rogers said there is hope behind every cancer story. Hers is filled with angels she feels were placed in her path.

"I had a wonderful doctor who was there for me but now I don't know where he is," she said. "He seems to have disappeared like an angel."

Her laughter is bubbly, and though she was also diagnosed with lung cancer following her breast cancer diagnosis, she is upbeat and full of praise, not just for doctors and hospitals, but for the people of the community.

"My church family (Shelbyville Mills Baptist) has been wonderful to me," she said. "They have been there with prayers, food, gifts and flowers. But more importantly, they have just been there for me."

For the event, Longaberger Basket has designed collector's baskets.

"Each year, the company designs a different Longaberger Hope Basket, said Powell, who is a director of the home consultant-based business. "Longaberger also includes educational literature as well as information about mammograms and breast exams."

"Mammograms are a simple way to combat this disease," Rogers chimed in, "and knowing how often to have one is so important. My mistake was that I went too long between my exams."

Presently Rogers is on chemotherapy and is doing well.

"I am doing a chemo study program," she explained. "Every three weeks I go in for a session but the Vassin that I am given only takes 30 minutes to be administered instead of four hours."

Because the medicine is considered a "study," she is not absolutely certain she is taking the drug. However, doctors are 99 percent sure she is because of the side effects and the scan improvements.

"There is a significant weight gain on this drug," she said, "as well as marked protein in the urine. I have both so it's pretty safe to say that I am using the drug -- and that it is working based on the scan results."

The program is a two-year study so Rogers still has about 18 months to go before she ever knows for sure, but in the meantime, her grounding is in God.

"This is just a little bump in the road," said the Pampered Chef home consultant. "This is my witness tool that He has given me so it's not about what He can do to bring me through, it's about the way I take the steps of the journey."

The Horizon of Hope program will be held Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at People's Bank. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.

"It's a wonderful time to spend with our friends and family who are going through cancer, survivors of cancer or simply remembering those not with us because of cancer," said Smith.

"This is something you do for yourself," said Powell. "With education and research, we want to pave a way so no one else is a cancer patient."

For more information on the event, contact Renee Powell at 580-3185 or 437-2248.