At halftime of the Penn State Lady Lions game against Wisconsin Sunday afternoon, it seemed as though Penn State’s school colors were not blue and white, but only pink.
Hundreds of survivors took to the court to wave pink pom-poms, dance to Kathy Sledge performing “We are Family,” and, most importantly, celebrate defeating breast cancer together at the 9th annual Pink Zone game.
Each held a placard with a number on it, noting the amount of time spent breast cancer free. Some measured the time in years: one in attendance was cured for 51 of those. Others marked the time in days. Elsie McClain, of Cassville, held a sign that read 34 years. She was diagnosed when she was 39, and was told if she had a year of chemotherapy she would live another five years, she said.
“It just goes to show that it’s something that can be beat with a lot of togetherness, family love and the grace of God,” McClain said.
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She was one of 730 survivors in attendance Sunday, the most ever for the event, Executive Director Miriam Powell said. The event also raises money through ticket sales, donations and other means. All proceeds benefit breast cancer charities, organizations and facilities with a focus on education, prevention, diagnosis and treatment. More than $200,000 had been raised by Sunday evening with more coming in, Powell said.
It was McClain’s fifth time at Pink Zone. She likes events like the one on Sunday because it brings survivors together, and that kind of encouragement and support is crucial, she said. She attends a monthly support group in Huntingdon, called the Pink Ribbon Support Group, and she traveled with them to the Bryce Jordan Center.
Shelby Shoemaker, of Huntingdon, heads the group and is a 13-year breast cancer survivor. The choice of song was perfect for those who have lived through breast cancer, she said.
“We’re just there to support each other,” Shoemaker said. “We’ve been there, done that and understand each other.”