The Biloxi Town Green on Saturday was transformed into the “town pink” for the Making Strides of the Mississippi Gulf Coast cancer walk.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
And perhaps it was mere a coincidence that Kool and The Gang’s anthem “Celebration” was playing loudly throughout the park as Ruth Payton of Vancleave discussed her life as a cancer survivor.
It’s a real blessing because I had a friend and a niece that got cancer and they didn’t make it.
Breast cancer survivor Ruth Payton of Vancleave
She was enjoying her time in the survivors tent, eating a complimentary breakfast and talking with other survivors of the disease that kills more than 40,000 women annually.
“I have been diagnosed with breast cancer twice, once in 2004 and then it came back in 2011,” she said. “But I’ve been cancer free since 2011.”
Payton said early detection helped save her life.
“I had a mammogram when they found the cancer the first time,” she said. “I had to have a laminectomy and then six years later, I had a double mastectomy.”
She said she hard a hard time with the radiation doctors used to treat the cancer.
“It changed my life,” Payton said. “They treated me with too much radiation and it scarred my left lung and I live with a lot pain in my left side, but otherwise I’m doing OK. It’s a real blessing because I had a friend and a niece that got cancer and they didn’t make it.”
The 5K run/walk started on Lameuse Street and circled to the IP Casino Resort, then participants crossed the finish line in front of Sal & Mookie’s.
It was a crisp morning with temperatures in the 50s and plenty of sunshine, making it an almost ideal day for the walk, which was led by breast cancer survivors.
More than 1,100 people on 216 teams raised about $40,000.
For those who decided not to walk, there were food vendors and activities.
Although the next Gulf Coast 5K may be a year away, the American Cancer Society is already looking for volunteers to help out.
“We always need volunteers for our events,” said Lillie Willis.
You can volunteer by contacting Willis at 601-520-4740 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.