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Pretty in Pink event pays tribute to breast cancer survivors, supporters

Breast cancer survivors and cancer survivor supporters in the Picayune area laughed and cried at the annual Pretty in Pink event Thursday night.

The night consisted of a speech by a doctor and a breast cancer survivor — who is still battling the deadly disease — and a fashion show consisting of Highland Community Hospital staff, family members and friends.

Dr. Alfred Johnson was the guest speaker who covered breast cancer diagnosis, surgical options and reconstructive options during the course of the event. Johnson is the general surgeon at Highland Community Hospital.

After Johnson spoke to the crowd Kim Melancon gave her survivor testimonial to the crowd of how she was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, brain tumors. To this day she is still battling cancer, she said.

The survivor focus was dedicated to the breast cancer survivors in the audience, which included Azalea Butler, Patricia Meek, Myrtle Taylor, Lucille Cittadino, Kim Melancon, Clara Spriggs, Miriam Van Scater and Sarah Strickland.

To lighten the mood the event also featured a male fashion show. The participants were all good sports and dressed in pink outfits, some flashy and some funny. Participants in the fashion show included James Turnage, Tony Gonzalez and Shane Melder from the Radiology Dept. at Highland, Bryan Stevens who is CFO at Highland, a mystery guest who is related to someone at Highland, Ricky Badon who is from the Admitting Department at Highland, Steve Grimm who is an administrator at Highland, Mark and Joseph Thorman who hail from Gulf Coast Home Care and Reggie Brown and Donald Combs who are relatives of Tonia Brown who is the Respiratory Director at Highland.

The event was held to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation which funds breast cancer research. The event Thursday night at the Knights of Columbus was the third annual fund raiser for the cause. However last year, because of Hurricane Katrina, the event consisted of only the silent auction held at each Pretty in Pink event, said Pam O’Flynn Director of Radiology, Cardiology and Safety for Highland Community Hospital.

Each year the event has been growing and raising more money, with the exception of last year which raised the same amount as the prior year with only a silent auction, O’Flynn said.

“It seems like it is growing and I’m glad that it is,” O’Flynn said.

Now that Forrest General has taken over the hospital in Picayune and it is non profit, O’Flynn said the hospital can begin looking for funding to perform mammogram screens for uninsured women among other funding, O’Flynn said.

O’Flynn would like to thank the corporate sponsors who helped make the night a success, which includes Knights of Columbus who donated use of the hall and a check for $500, Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary who donated $200, Bank Plus who donated $250 and Nexcall Communications (Nextell) who donated $300.

O’Flynn would also like to give special thanks to the following staff for helping to put the event together; Amy Esslinger, Debbie Green, Tonia Brown, Misty Toruno, Shirley Bertolasi, Jamie Abbott, Miranda Parker, Michele Alexander, Thana McSwain, Fran Thomas, Shelley Smith, the Radiology Staff and the Dietary Staff.