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Line of strength: Survivors paint town pink

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, October 14, 2017
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Painting Crew

PAINTING CREW – Brenda Scott (center) joins other survivors in painting a line down Main Street in Decatur Friday morning. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Shortly after the horn on the Decatur fire truck sounded, Brenda Scott sat the end of the paint roller onto Main Street.

With Scott pushing forward, the Valentine pink paint brightened the dingy asphalt. Scott kept the roller on the street for several feet before passing it off like a baton to the next survivor to take over the painting down Main Street. One by one, survivors of breast cancer and supporters rolled the brush the length of the block between State and Trinity Streets.

“I can’t put it into words. It’s heart-warming how this community comes together,” Scott said, who is celebrating her 24th year as a survivor. “It’s amazing what they do to honor the survivors and the ones we’ve lost.”

It was the 15th year for Scott to join her fellow survivors to “Paint the Town Pink.”

“I drive my grandkids over to see it every year,” Scott said about the pink stripe.

Decatur started the celebration in 2002 as part of AVON’s Paint a Pink Line Across America.

“Decatur was the first and only city in Texas to do it that year with AVON,” said Decatur Main Street Manager Frieda Lasater. “It’s a fun way to raise awareness and celebrate survivors.”

Gathering Strength

GATHERING STRENGTH – Breast cancer survivors and supporters join to celebrate “Paint the Town Pink” Friday on the Decatur Square. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

While starting the painting, Scott proclaimed that her 89-year-old mother was 34-year survivor. As the line made its way down the street, she told her own story of surviving cancer.

“I was 33-years-old when I was diagnosed,” she said. “It was very scary.”

She credits the support of family, friends and other survivors for getting her through.

Judy Rawle took her turn rolling the brush to celebrate her 16th year as a survivor. She was 36 when diagnosed. She looks back to her battle as a “blessing.”

“My breast cancer gave me more time with my dad. He was my support through it,” Rawle explained. “It was a blessing in disguise because I got more time with him.”

She said she lost her father to another form of cancer soon after.

Forming a Line

FORMING A LINE – Margaret Anderson takes her turn painting a line down Main Street Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur’s Debbe Whitley is celebrating her ninth year as a survivor. Her victory changed the direction for the nurse’s career. She now works with cancer patients at Wise Health System.

“I give chemo now to patients. I know what it’s like to be a survivor and as a nurse to give care,” Whitley said. “It was after I was diagnosed that my oncologist asked me to come work for him.

“This is a celebration of life. When you are first diagnosed, your first thought is that I’m going to die.”

Whitley said when she was diagnosed at 50, she had just started caring for two grandkids.

“They were my reason to live,” she said.

As the line made its way down the street, the ladies pointed out the hope that it symbolizes.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t seem that way when you are going through it,” Scott said.

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