CC NAACP chapter hosts Pink Pep Rally



Rachell Hargelrode, staff writer

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Anita Maxwell, a breast cancer survivor of nine years, attended the Pink Pep Rally here at Columbia College and literally kicked off the event. A kickball, representing cancer, was rolled towards her and Maxwell kicked the ball to symbolize her kicking cancer. After that empowering symbolism, Maxwell was kind enough to share her story with me.

“I was diagnosed at 40 years old with stage two breast cancer. It was a long nine months with chemotherapy because it damaged my lungs and kidneys, it really took a toll on my body. I had to have a double mastectomy which means I had to remove both breasts.” When asked how breast cancer affected her mentally Maxwell said, “Losing your hair was very hard because your self esteem can get so low, but I had good family support along with a great group of doctors, seven in total.” Maxwell continued to explain how important a good support system is in situations like hers. She said she would not have gotten through it without her family and doctors.

Columbia College’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were the organizers of the Pink Pep Rally, which commemorated Breast Cancer Awareness month on October 27th, 2018. The event was held in Godbold Gym and the area outside the gym. There were food trucks and various businesses with products for women. There were also different school organizations such as Diversity Peer Educators, the Education Department, and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) to help raise awareness of breast cancer prevention and support those who have survived or are going through treatment or have family members with breast cancer. Others attended to advocate for breast cancer awareness.

Linda Alston, an NAACP member here at Columbia College attended the event and was helping run a game booth. When asked if she had a special connection to breast cancer awareness Alston said “I was in tenth grade when I got a mass in my left breast. I went to the doctor, and they took a mammogram. I had a benign tumor in my left breast. Had the tumor not been benign, I would have had breast cancer.” That experience inspired Alston to advocate for education on check-up exams and breast cancer for women who do not take it seriously. Alston stated, “It’s important for women to educate themselves about their bodies and their health and pay attention to warning signs. I advocate for women to go get check-ups even if it does not relate to breast cancer.”

Wacoal Bra Specialists Tammela Tucker and LaMorris Boyles represent Belk Columbiana at CC’s NAACP Chapter’s Pink Pep Rally.

Belk, the department store at Columbiana Mall, had a booth manned by LaMorris Boyles and Tammela Tucker, both Wacoal Bra Specialists. Their booth was filled with undergarments, specifically bras, perfect for this event. As bra specialists, they want women to know the importance of getting sized for bras at least once a year because eight out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra.  The ladies also explained that although they do not have a special connection to breast cancer, Wacoal donates $2 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation every time they size a woman for a bra. Belk holds an event called “Fit for the Cure” twice a year to raise awareness and money for the foundation. Boyles and Tucker promote breast cancer awareness by encouraging every woman to look for warning signs and have regular check-ups.

“My goal now is to educate women about the two types of breast cancer,” Maxwell said  “Women must remember to do their own exams when they are in the shower. If they feel anything that is not supposed to be there, then they need to go get checked out.” She also gave advice for women who are fighting breast cancer and the aftermath of it. “You are still a woman even without your ‘tatas,’ and good support is what helps you heal.”

It was a difficult journey for her, and Maxwell still struggles with issues related to breast cancer. She said it is a never-ending fight, but she would do it all over again, if it meant another woman would not have to.

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