When Sheri Kromrey faces the crowd at a breast cancer memorial next week, she plans to tell the truth.
“I had a lump in 2010 and I ignored it. I didn’t let the doctor check my breast, because I was afraid” she said. “My mom had breast cancer and I was afraid — I didn’t want to face it.”
Then on Dec. 6, 2011, Kromrey awoke with an excruciating pain in her breast, she said, and about week she received her diagnosis: stage-3 breast cancer.
The Gardendale woman said she hopes her speech will influence some people to get their mammograms, but many in the crowd at Memorial Garden Park on Sunday will already know to do so, as they will have come to honor or remember a loved one who suffered from breast cancer.
That’s why Kromrey’s story won’t merely be a warning but an offering of solidarity and encouragement. She plans to talk about her path to recovery in the last year (Kromrey was cancer free at her check-up in July and has been since). And she’ll talk about a favorite book, Kris Carr’s “Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor” which offers ways “to feel whole and pretty” after surgery.
At the Pink the Park breast cancer event from 3 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 7, people touched by breast cancer will gather to raise awareness of the disease and money to help those who suffer from it. A sister ceremony at Wadley Barron Park in Midland will happen at the same time.
The American Cancer Society sponsors the events annually, and it is selling pink flags to commemorate a loved one who survives breast cancer or who has died from it. They sell for $25, and that money will pay for prosthetics for local women after their lumpectomies and mastectomies, said Elisha Moberly, the cancer society’s community manager for initiatives in West Texas. (See the breakout to learn how to purchase a flag).
The program that provides the breast prosthesis served 74 women in Ector County from September 2011 through May 2012, according to the most recent statistics available, Moberly said.
At the event, survivors will be presented with their flags, then plant them in the park themselves, Moberly said.
Lorita Kelley, a “patient navigator” for breast cancer at Medical Center Hospital, will read their names. Patient navigators, part counselor and nurse, help breast cancer patients process their illness and treatment, said Jackie Freeman, a patient navigator at Odessa Regional Medical Center who will read a poem at the event.
Survivors will also walk around the lake at Memorial Gardens.
After a moment of silence, the names of people lost to breast cancer will also be read, Moberly said. Then friends, family members, event volunteers or breast cancer coalition members will place their flags for them.
Kromrey said she plans to buy flags for her mother and for a recently diagnosed friend in Midland. Plus another for herself.
PINK FLAG INFORMATION
- How much?: $25
- Who benefits?: Local woman who need prosthetics after breast cancer surgery
- Where can I get one in Odessa?: People can buy flags at Odessa Regional Medical Center, Medical Center Hospital, and The American Cancer Society at 811 Central Drive. Check or money orders are preferred. Credit cards will be accepted too. Buyers will fill out a form that includes information about who their flag honors.