The Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program honored nearly 150 breast and prostate cancer survivors from Southeast Texas during its annual Valentine Survivors Celebration on Thursday, Feb. 10, in the Parkdale Mall Garden Court.

The event, which was sponsored by TOTAL Port Arthur Refinery and emceed by Fox 4 News Director Angel San Juan, recognized the strength and courage of those who have fought valiantly in the battle against cancer.

“The Survivors Celebration makes me appreciate my diagnosis because I didn’t know what to do with it,” said “Gift of Life” mammography screening client, Susan Dimaline, who was diagnosed with breast cancer following a free “Gift of Life” mammogram and provided access to treatment in 2010. “Now, I know I’m part of something larger, and it’s very special to me.”

TOTAL’s critical assistance, both individually and through its partnership with BASF FINA Petrochemicals, LP in Miracle Match for Life, has made available more than 900 free mammograms and helped extend the lives of 22 individuals who were diagnosed with breast or prostate cancer through “Gift of Life” screenings and provided access to follow-up care.

“It is great to be a part of a program that does so much good in the community,” said Randy Sonnier, who, along with Gail Labath, represented TOTAL. “You can see by this event just how many people are impacted by the ‘Gift of Life.’”

Guest speakers Beverly Perry, breast cancer survivor, and Larry Beaulieu, prostate cancer survivor, shared their heartwarming stories of hope and healing.

A “Gift of Life” volunteer extraordinaire and former Volunteer of the Year, Perry is a dedicated supporter and is always willing to give of her time and talents to the program’s services.
“The ‘Gift of Life’ is in the business of making survivors,” Perry said. “Eight women were diagnosed last year and, like me, they will become survivors. That is something that they perhaps wouldn’t have had without the ‘Gift of Life.’ If you want to feel better, if you want to help others, please go to the ‘Gift of Life’ and feed your soul. Perhaps the people who are diagnosed behind us will have it a little better than what we had.”

Beaulieu, KFDM Channel 6 General Manager, understands the critical role the “Gift of Life” plays in our region and is an advocate of the program’s outreach that encourages early detection through prostate cancer screening and education.

“My experience made me realize how vital and important early detection can be,” Beaulieu said. “I would encourage early detection and, I might add, frequent testing. It’s because of this that I am a one-and-a-half year survivor.”

Honored as “Gift of Life” Sweethearts were Charline Dauphin, Sallye Keith, Aileen Larson, and members of the Live Positively Campaign (Parkdale Mall staff members, Barbara Spell, Jana Gray, Gwen Berry, and Kurt Lundgreen). Also recognized for their commitment to the organization were TOTAL, the Beaumont Professional Firefighters Local No. 339, Capital One, Capital One Trust Department, Mid-Life Crisis Band and Philpott Motors.

The celebration culminated with a balloon release and the uplifting song, “Walking on Sunshine,” by Mid-Life Crisis Band members, Jennifer Parker, David Perkins, Antonio LeBlanc and Mickey Shuffield. Guests enjoyed refreshments from Beaumont Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Blue Bell Creameries, L.P., Chick-fil-A Parkdale, Great American Cookies, H-E-B and Rao’s Bakery. Other participating merchants include Bath & Body Works, Bealls, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Butch Hoffer, Dillard’s, JCPenney and Macy’s.

For more information about Survivors’ Celebration, call the “Gift of Life” at 409-833-3663 or toll-free 877-720-GIFT (4438).