“Breast cancer is part of you. It’s like going to college or getting married or working at NBC,” said Hoda Kotb, breast cancer survivor and co-host of the fourth hour of NBC’s the Today show.
A stranger sitting next to Kotb on an airplane empowered the journalist to share her survival story with others as she did Friday night at the We Think Pink Banquet hosted by The Augusta Chronicle.
“Don’t hog your journey. It’s not just for you,” she said.
During breast cancer treatment, Kotb learned to cherish time and the things loved in life. New courage helped Kotb to ask her boss at NBC for a promotion.
“If I hadn’t have gotten sick, I know I wouldn’t have had the guts to ask for this job,” she said. “The way you spend your days is the way you spend your life. If you want to change your life, if things are going badly, you just change Monday, then you change Tuesday.”
About 500 breast cancer patients, survivors and supporters gathered for the fourth annual event downtown at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center. Kotb ended the night by singing and dancing to the song It’s a brand new day by Joshua Radin, a song she listened to on difficult days of her treatment.
See more than 500 photos from Friday night's We Think Pink Banquet at spotted.augusta.com.
Proceeds from the night benefited The Lydia Project, an organization that began in Augusta to support women with cancer. A $5,000 check plus earnings from a silent auction during the event will help the non-profit provide rent, utility and prescription assistance to those unable to afford the basic expenses of cancer treatment.
Pam Gilmer attended the banquet in remembrance of her mother who died of pancreatic cancer and friends who have survived other forms of cancer.
“I don’t know too many people that haven’t been touched by cancer,” Gilmer said. “It’s about the camaraderie and to support all those who have been affected.”
Robin Sullivan thought she was handed a death sentence when the doctor diagnosed her with breast cancer in 2008. Three years later, she attended the We Think Pink dinner with family members and friends to prove that cancer is not life’s end.
“I’m quick to tell people I’m a cancer survivor. There are miracles that happen and they’re hope,” Sullivan said.
After a mastectomy and eight rounds of chemotherapy treatment, doctors told Sullivan the cancer has a 15 percent chance of returning.
“We’re celebrating that I’m cancer free. I think of it as 85 percent chance of not coming back,” she said.”