The women were the winners chosen at the ninth annual Surviving to Share banquet at Coosa Country Club.
Redmond Regional Medical Center, along with other local sponsors, hosts a contest in which cancer survivors tell their stories of hope and inspiration, pain and perseverance. Three winners were celebrated at the banquet, along with their families and caregivers.
The winners didn’t know they were chosen until their stories were read out loud at the banquet by Lisa Smith, executive director of the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau.
DeBerry’s story emphasized how blessed she felt, despite a cancer diagnosis at age 34. She wrote of her treatments and particularly the fact that she will have to remain on chemotherapy for the rest of her life. She did not attend the banquet.
“I cannot say that I am sorry that I have cancer. I know God has a great plan for me,” she wrote. “I’m able to slow down and enjoy the small things. I refuse to say ‘why me.’ Why not me? I am no better than anyone else. I have great doctors and nurses and I have learned patience and I have great caregivers. God has carried me through this journey and I have been so blessed.”
Anderson’s essay celebrated her six years as a breast cancer survivor and praised the Surviving To Share program.
“I now realized that hope is one of the greatest gifts we have been given,” she wrote. Surviving to Share is our hope. What you can give carries no price tag but its value is priceless. We cling to it when the future looks uncertain and praise it when things turn out better than we could have imagined. Hope is the foundation on which we build our dreams and aspirations.”
Erwin’s story focused on her journey and used her essay to encourage other women to hope and to fight.
“I have to say that I find my strength in God’s word and through the support of my wonderful family and friends,” she wrote. “You see, I am just another one of the many women who chose to fight and become a survivor. I only want to be an encouragement to anyone who needs to know they are not alone. I choose to see each day as a gift.”
Aside from the three winners, three honorable mentions were also awarded to Thresia Williams, Gina Cook and Betty Aycock.
All six award recipients received gift bags and bluebird houses. The winners received gift baskets and prizes including a stay at Barnsley Gardens.
As a special addition to this year’s event, two additional awards were presented.
The Pansy Dorling Award was given to Diane Miller, who the committee felt has been a role model, resource and an advocate for other women with breast cancer.
Another very special award given was by the North Georgia Chapter of Medals 4 Mettle, a nonprofit that facilitates the gifting of medals that have been won by athletes in marathons, half-marathons and triathlons, to children and adults battling life-threatening illnesses.
Dawn Lambert was the recipient of a Medal 4 Mettle.
“The committee chose her because of her incredible story,” said Medals 4 Mettle’s North Georgia chapter coordinator John Crowley. “She’s a three-time breast cancer survivor and has been a caregiver for three family members who have died from cancer.
Crowley said Lambert’s medal was won by a local runner in a marathon which was a fundraiser for breast cancer research.
Read Sunday’s Roman Life for the complete stories by all three winners.