Church recognizes survivors, caregivers

A Blackville church honored survivors of breast cancer and domestic violence.

The health and wellness ministry of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church hosted its 5th Annual Fight Like Champions Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Awareness Luncheon on Oct. 14. This year’s theme was “Love is Making Sure No One Feels They Are a Burden”.

“You never know how something affects someone until it hits you,” said Chasica Hampton, the head of the health and wellness ministry. She is also a three-year survivor of cervical cancer and has two aunts who have also been impacted by cancer.

The event began five years ago after a former pastor asked Hampton to head up the event. Fifteen people attended the first year, but the event has grown every year since. The luncheon originally focused on breast cancer awareness, but domestic violence awareness was added two years ago after Hampton realized how South Carolina had been number one in the nation for the number of domestic violence cases. The state is now number five.

“Everyone forgets about purple (color of Domestic Violence Awareness Month) in October because pink is so big,” said Hampton.

Sabrina Early, who is a “breast cancer overcomer”, was the featured speaker about breast cancer awareness.

“There’s a need to educate women and men about breast cancer,” she said. “Early detection is the best protection.”

She encouraged those in the audience to not ignore signs like she did when she experienced pain under her armpits. Her cancer was discovered in the late stages and had spread to her lymph nodes.

“Don’t take your health for granted,” said Early, who used to work for the American Cancer Society but now works for The Aiken Standard. “God will give us signs. When your body starts to talk to you, listen.”

She was bed-ridden and couldn’t even stand at one point during her battle. She endured a lot of chemotherapy and radiation, as well as extensive physical therapy and surgery, but is now in good health again and can walk.

“What the devil meant for evil, God turned around for good. If I can help somebody, then my living will not be in vain,” said Early, who organized the Aiken chapter of the S.C. Witness Project, which raises awareness about breast and cervical cancers.

Early also encouraged people to utilize the free screenings offered through the Best Chance Network.

The church gave away chemo bags to current cancer patients. The bags include bottled water, snacks, activities and other items to help during treatment. Second Baptist Church of Barnwell presented a monetary donation to Pilgrim Rest, which Hampton said would fund chemo bags for next year’s event.

Jessica Coach and Nami Johnson from the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons were there to provide information and resources in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Johnson spoke about how survivors of domestic violence can obtain legal protection from their abuser in the form of orders of protections and permanent restraining orders, as well as restraining orders from harassment and stalking. The Cumbee Center provides these and other services free of charge.

Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist presented money as well as candy, household goods and hair products to the Cumbee Center to assist with various projects and programs. Wal-Mart in Barnwell provided some of the donations.