American Cancer Society Sends Cancer Advocates to Washington, D.C

The American Cancer Society named 73 ambassadors to represent local communities across North Texas at Celebration on the Hill 2006, a nationwide event to be held in Washington, D.C. Sept. 19-20 to engage members of Congress in the fight against cancer.

During the event ambassadors will meet with lawmakers to demand that Congress make cancer a national priority by boosting the federal commitment to cancer research and programs.

“Cancer is the most feared disease in America,” said Karen Heusinkveld, Dr. PH, RN from Fort Worth, TX. “In 2006 an estimated 1,399,790 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and 564,830 will die from the disease.”

Celebration on the Hill celebrates cancer survivorship and empowers Society volunteers to become a powerful force in the fight against cancer.

The federal government plays a critical role in reducing the cancer burden in this country.

By reauthorizing the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program states will have more flexibility to reach eligible women who are most in need.

Celebration on the Hill 2006 will harness the grassroots power found in 4,750 communities across the country that host Relay for Life events.

Locally there are 25 relays in the Dallas/Fort Worth area during the months of April, May, and June.

A Wall of Hope is making its way to all of the relays before traveling to our nation’s capitol.

Demonstrating the unity of the entire nation in the fight against cancer the wall will take up four city blocks of the National Mall.

“At the conclusion of the Celebration on the Hill each banner will return to its home community where it will be displayed as a visual reminder that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will always be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated as a major public health threat,” said Lori Soderbergh, communications director of the American Cancer Society of Tarrant/Denton counties.

Tattoos give one cancer survivor flowers of hope that will never fade, said writer Florangela Davila.

“When cancer struck the second time Jackie Floyd looked to the future and envisioned her body one of two ways: curvaceous with mastectomy scars or reconstructed with breasts,” said Davila. “Truth be told she had been proud of her breasts.”

When cancer struck the second time, this time with such vengeance that it sent her into a rage, she chose to have her cancerous breast, along with her healthy one, removed, according to Davila.

“The idea of surgery hung on as Floyd packed up an RV and headed south from her home in Tukwilla, Washington, a Seattle suburb, to Dash Point State Park on Puget Sound,” wrote Davila. “And that’s when she saw it, out on one of her hikes: a huge evergreen that had been heaved from its roots.”

“And I thought we could set this tree back on this stump,” said Floyd. “I thought about my breasts.”

Floyd said she would think there are as many different ways to move through cancer as there are women.

She says this as she lies prostrate, just like that Dash Point evergreen that triggered her journey here, writes Davila.

According to a recent article when Floyd saw that tree at Dash Point and how it had birthed new life as a log she suddenly pictured another choice.

“I wanted to know that I had survived,” Floyd said in the article.

She had no idea, though, if it was possible, and if so what it would look or even feel like because she had never been tattooed before, she said in a recent interview.

She met Vyvyn Lazonga in her Pike Place Market studio, Davila stated.

She learned how a few other cancer warriors also had come to Lazonga for their own tattoos, Floyd explained.

She held onto two fortune cookie predictions: “You will have a long and prosperous life” and “You will have a new look that will do wonders” Floyd stated.

She took a Polaroid of her breasts and tucked it away at home for later, she said.

As she went in for her mastectomy surgery, asking the doctor for a pair of scars as symmetrical and flat as possible she pictured herself in the studio, Lazonga etching something vibrant on her chest, she reflected.

“The loss and the renewal needed to be in the same space,” she wrote. “With every life-threatening illness you think you’ve lost complete control.”
At Lazonga’s studio Floyd lay behind that shoji screen underneath a blue paper blanket for several hours at a time, according to research.

“It’s a flower and a weed and it’s hard as hell to get rid of,” Floyd writes, describing her tattoo.

It took some 15 hours to complete the image that waltzes from belly to shoulder that’s usually well hidden to the world except when she’s at home, according to friends.

Where her grandchildren know all about her journey and ask: “Grandma, can we see your flowers?”

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