By the numbers
• 41 percent of Liberty County women have not had a mammogram within the past 12 months
• 42 percent in Long have not
• 9.7 percent Liberty County late-detection rate
v125 women diagnosed with cancer each day
• 548 AD the first recorded mastectomy performed on Theodora, Empress of Byzantine
Sources: Komen Coastal Georgia and the Liberty County Health Department
Thursday night’s sunset over Liberty County was a puff of cotton-candy clouds, a fitting backdrop for the second-annual Hinesville Farmers Market Go Pink Night.
Attendees donated more than $380 for breast-cancer research and treatment, and several market vendors pledged to donate a portion of their profits to Komen Coastal Georgia, according to HDDA program assistant Katrina Barrow.
“Tonight’s turnout has been really great,” Barrow said when the group had raised $200. “We’ve already doubled what we made at last year’s fundraiser, so that just shows that Go Pink Night is growing, and support for Susan G. Komen is growing.”
Pasta vendor FraLi Gourmet owner Lisa Marra got into the survivor spirit with a pink dress and wig.
Marra, who is almost three years cancer-free, displayed a montage of pictures to mark her journey, including running several Susan G. Komen Races for the Cure in Savannah.
She said she beat cancer by changing her diet and eliminating free-radicals. The dietary changes were a catalyst for Marra’s pasta line with her husband Franco. It incorporates health-boosting elements like roasted peppers, beets and spinach.
While Marra is glad to see that alternative treatments are beginning to get attention, events like Go Pink Night are important because they start conversations.
“When I first was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was, fortunately, by myself, and I took it on myself — I had no one else to fall on … I started looking up the ways that you could beat it, the survivors that beat it, the different techniques that work. And I just got hope and hope and hope and I went from there.”
Performers also carried the message of hope.
Bradwell Institute cheerleaders rallied the crowd, and Bradwell students Leah Hayes and Ayonna James performed uplifting songs. Jessica Sittle performed a soulful rendition of “Proud Mary,” and Leianne Haney played acoustic guitar.
The cause also was the focus of the Hinesville Area Arts Council’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” exhibition, where shoes were paired with facts provided by the Liberty County Health Department.
“People seem to think it’s neat. They like the idea and they’re actually reading the facts,” HAAC Chairwoman Leah Poole said.
“Some of them are the ones that you hear every day, and then some of them aren’t, like red food coloring causes breast cancer,” Poole said. “I think those stick out to people a lot more.”
Outside, representatives from the Liberty County Health Department, Fort Stewart Public Health Nursing and Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Coastal Georgia affiliate had information about resources.
Komen Coastal Georgia will get Thursday’s donations. This year the organization granted $30,750 to the Liberty County Health Department for breast screenings and mammograms as part of its programming.
Coastal affiliate coordinator Beth Desloges previously said 75 percent of funds raised locally go to local cases and 25 percent go the national nonprofit for research.
The Liberty County Health Department also spread information about the federally funded Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, which provides exams and physicals for uninsured women older than 40 who meet income criteria, according to representative Angela Gunter.
The program treats about 30 women each month, she said.
Public-health nurse Stephanie Martin urged women to conduct self-examinations.
“The reason we do these breast exams is, you need to know your body. If it changes, you’re going to be the one to know,” Martin said.
Not all lumps are worrisome, Martin said. Frequent caffeine drinkers will have lumps in their breasts, but women should watch for symmetry.
“If you feel something in one breast, feel the exact same spot in the other breast. If they’re the same, then it’s OK. If it’s different, then there’s a concern,” she added.
The health officials dubbed area natives Tracy Allen and Natascha Sillik “pink warriors” for their involvement in the cause.
Allen and Sillik both have personal connections to breast cancer and decided to donate their time and talents to selling crafts and baked goods. They donated all of the proceeds to the cause, Sillik said.
Vendor Flatland Farm raffled off a pink Snuggie, with proceeds to benefit the fundraiser, which also is a close cause to owner Theresa Morrison and her 10-year-old daughter Seraphina.
“My great-grandma has cancer, but she’s in New York,” Seraphina said.