The reason Diane Miller Brown led a walk through Pembroke on Saturday morning was both simple and pure.
It shows she and other cancer survivors are still here.
“It shows we’re still in the fight,” said Brown, a retired counselor diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. “And it shows that just because you’re diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t mean you’re going to die with cancer.”
The word she used to describe how she felt when she was told she had the disease was one often used to describe the destruction left by storms or wars. Devastating.
“It was devastating when I heard the ‘C’ word,’ Brown said. “But with faith, and a lot of support, and by following doctor’s instructions, I beat cancer.”
And that, and COVID-19, led she and 29 other survivors of various forms of cancer to gather together at Dubois Square in Pembroke and walk together – albeit with social distancing and other pandemic protocols in place -- for approximately 45 minutes, escorted by members of the Pembroke Police Department.
For them, Brown was grateful.
“I’d like to thank Chief Bill Collins and his police officers for all their special assistance in making sure we had a safe walk,” she said.
Ordinarily, the walkers would be in Savannah and part of a larger event, said Brown, a counselor who worked 24 years with the school system and also worked for Gateway. But the COVID-19 pandemic led her and her fellow survivors to stay home this year to “give cancer the boot.”
And that resulted in the realization that Pembroke should have its own walk, one that includes survivors of all cancers, Brown said.
“It’s important to keep it in the community,” she said. “Next year we’ll start organizing it earlier and get more publicity about it out, and make it bigger and better with more people participating.”
In the meantime, Brown’s walk Saturday may serve as a reminder for others to look after themselves.
“Get checked,” she said. “Definitely get checked and ask your doctor questions. Look out for yourself so you can be here to take care of others.”