Bras for the Cause

Residents at Branch Creek Apartments in Athens display themed, decorated bras to help raise awareness of breast cancer, the need to conduct self-examinations and the need to raise funds and support for a cure. The "Bras for a Cause" were displayed Wednesday at the independent senior living facility on South Hine Street.

 

From a best-dressed-in-pink contest to a display of decorated brassieres, Branch Creek Apartments staff and residents made sure to let anyone who passed by know they support breast cancer awareness and the fight for a cure.

The independent senior living facility hosted the event Wednesday, with area organizations manning booths to share information about breast cancer, provide health checks and give away prizes to games like pink patio bingo or help residents design tie-dye masks. Pertha Laster, service coordinator at Branch Creek, said the goal was to give residents a reminder that breast cancer can affect anyone.

"Even though they are elderly, there are elderly women and men who contract breast cancer, so we just want them to be aware in the community here," Laster said, adding the event also gave residents a chance to socialize safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For the event, many residents decorated bras to help raise funds for Pink Elephant Fund, a nonprofit that provides mammogram scholarships to Limestone County residents who might not otherwise be able to afford them and helps support women's health services at Athens-Limestone Hospital.

Laster said there were different themes for the bras, including one with clocks and the phrase "Time Out for a Cure" and another with small puppies and the phrase "Save the Puppies."

Branch Creek Apartments staff

Pertha Laster, left, and Meleah Thomas stand in front of a large information board aimed at providing information about breast cancer to residents and visitors at Branch Creek Apartments' breast cancer awareness event Wednesday in Athens.

"Everybody just came in and put their creativity in, and it just came out so beautifully," she said.

For some residents, it was a chance to share their own breast cancer experiences with others. Carolyn Jones said she first learned about self-examinations through Oprah Winfrey's TV show around 20 years ago.

"She had a female doctor on her show, and she was telling how to check (yourself for breast cancer)," Jones said. "I got in the shower that night, and I did what they told me to do, and I found it. It liked to scare me to death."

Fifteen years later, after winning her fight against the first diagnosis, she was diagnosed again — this time, in her other breast. She fought it, too, and on Wednesday sat with friends as she shared her tale. She was also one of the resident artists who designed a bra for the cause.

She joked that her breast cancer surgeries, among the 21 she's had in her 80-year life, made her feel like an old car.

"They took parts out of me, took parts off of me — all I've got left is an old bumper, and it's got a crack in it," she said.

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