The Dazzle Me Pink luncheon and fashion show fundraiser, organized by the Wise Regional Health Foundation, never fails to astonish.
Members of the community show up in throngs to the annual event, held at the Decatur Civic Center. Their donations to Mary’s Gift and Women’s Health Services at Wise Regional, through the live auction, raffle or pledges, help provide free mammograms to underserved women throughout Wise County.
At this year’s event Wednesday, monetary donations may have taken a backseat to a bold move on the runway by Sylvia Elenburg of Bridgeport.
Representing Wise Regional Health System’s Bridgeport Auxiliary and modeling clothing from Bealls, Elenburg whipped off her wig as she made her way down the runway, exposing a bald head speckled with tufts of hair – a sign of regrowth.
“I wanted it to be encouraging to ladies who have gone through this or are going through this,” the breast cancer survivor said. “Life is beautiful, and hair is just a minor thing.”
Elenburg was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2013.
“It was very sudden and out of the blue,” she said.
After detecting an abnormality in her right breast, she scheduled an appointment with her doctor in Bridgeport, who sent her to a specialist in Denton.
After a series of tests, doctors found traces of the disease in both breasts.
“They told me to find a good oncologist so I started seeing a doctor at UT Southwestern in Dallas,” she said.
In late October, Elenburg began an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. She underwent treatment every three weeks and would have a PET scan after three cycles.
“The first scan was extremely encouraging, showing the treatment was effective,” Elenburg said.
But the second PET scan at the end of March delivered even greater news – after just six months of treatment, Elenburg is cancer-free.
“It was a whirlwind,” she said. “It just happens out of the blue, and you go through all the different emotions – shock, fear of what’s going to happen.
“But if you have faith in God and you surround yourself with loved ones, it’s pretty easy to stay encouraged.”
For now, she continues every three weeks to undergo maintenance therapy, an intravenous procedure she lightheartedly refers to as her “booster shot.”
It’s that sense of humor that helped her along the journey – and inspired the wig-removing move at the fundraiser Wednesday.
“I did it to celebrate the good news and hopefully encourage ladies who are facing or have faced this battle,” she said. “For some crazy reason, we get all caught up in losing our hair. But it’s such a minor issue.
“Being courageous and having faith is the main thing,” she continued. “Hair is a small byproduct that’s really not that big of a deal.”
Courage, on the other hand, is huge.
“We were all so thrilled that she had the courage to do that,” said Michelle Stone, WRHS foundation director. “That lends a touch of what we’re there for … for the survivors.”
At the event, which was in its fifth installment, organizers revealed a check in the amount of $41,011. However, Stone said additional donations came in after the event, bringing the total to $42,000.
The amount is less than last year’s record-setting total of $62,013.
“But we had a $25,000 donation that put us way higher,” Stone said. “Year after year, this community takes care of its fellow members. I’m so thankful for that.”