Painting the town Pink

Second annual Girls Night Out event raises money for cancer charities

Members of the Camas High School girls’ basketball team supplied pink boas for women who successfully made “baskets” into a trash container. Buy this photo

Women of all ages had a good time for a good cause Thursday night.

Mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and granddaughters attended the second annual “Girls Night Out,” in downtown Camas.

With the theme, “Now is the New Later,” the event was billed as an evening of celebration in support of women and local cancer charities. For a donation of $15 per person, participants were treated to complimentary cupcakes and pink drinks, beauty treatments and neck massages, as well as health tips and resources, art activities and shopping and dining promotions.

The event attracted more than 300 women and raised a total of more than $4,000 for the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Oregon and Southwest Washington and the Pink Lemonade Project, founded by Drs. Allen and Cassie Gabriel, of Camas.

Jennifer Eland talked about how the Pink Lemonade Project provides emotional support, workshops and retreats for cancer survivors and their family members. The project is financially supported by community donors.

Jennifer Kelly, a participant in some of the Pink Lemonade programs, talked about being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33. The mother of three young children described her husband Mike as a “co-survivor.”

Kelly, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, also remembered her sister-in-law saying “lace up your combat boots, and we’re going to fight this.”

A friend of Kelly’s gave her a T-shirt with the phrase “Does this shirt make my head look bald?”

“All you have is your attitude, and you are depending on the drugs to work,” Kelly said.

She endured chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, radiation and a total hysterectomy.

After that, she chose to have breast reconstruction.

“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Kelly said.

She applauded the Pink Lemonade Project, because it recognizes “co-survivors.”

Kelly encouraged the women at Girls Night Out to follow their instincts regarding medical issues, be persistent if they need to be and become educated regarding possible dietary and environmental factors that could cause cancer.

Judy Fornia, a volunteer with the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Oregon and Southwest Washington, talked about some of the “silent” symptoms of ovarian cancer –– frequent urination, bloating and backaches.

They were later emphasized by several of the event planners who danced to the tune of “Macarena,” while pointing to the sites of potential symptoms.

Fornia, an 8-year ovarian cancer survivor, has spoken to medical students so they can become more aware of the vague symptoms of the disease which affects one in 71 women. She is a nursing home inspector who continued to work during her treatment which included chemotherapy and radiation.

Fornia has been in remission since 2004.

“I’m grateful I have this life to live,” she said.

Krista Colvin, of Camas, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2010. She has been to 154 medical appointments since then. They included six months of chemotherapy, 32 radiation treatments, 15 physical therapy appointments and the removal of two breasts and 14 lymph nodes.

Colvin expressed gratitude for the love and support provided by local residents.

“I am thankful,” she said. “My community has not been too busy for me.”

Colvin talked about the importance of doing monthly self breast exams and encouraging friends to take care of their health.

“Listen to your body,” she said. “Take five minutes to book an appointment.”

Cyndie Adams, of Camas, attended Girls Night Out with her sister Jillmarie Holscher, also of Camas, and mother Palma Gigliotti, of Gresham, Ore. In August 2010, Gigliotti was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Adams attended the first Girls Night Out in May 2010.

“It’s so much fun to see women supporting such an amazing cause and having a good time in the pouring rain,” she said. “It’s a blast.”

Shannon Van Horn, owner of Workshed Interactive and a member of the Girls Night Out organizing committee, talked about the variety of activities available that night, as photos of cancer survivors were displayed on a screen behind her. The photos, taken by Lara Blair, of Camas, are in a book “Hope Stories.”

During Girls Night Out, Blair took “girly” photos, with the proceeds providing free copies of “Hope Stories” for recently diagnosed cancer patients at the Kearney Breast Center at Southwest Washington Medical Center, in Vancouver.

“The hospital buys the books for their waiting room too,” she said.

The photo shoots Thursday night raised $460 to purchase new books for the center.

The evening concluded with drawings for several raffle prizes donated by local merchants. Carol Hardin, of Vancouver, was the winner of the grand prize –– a trip to Mexico.

Hardin appeared to be in shock after her name was read.

A few moments later, she said she was numb.

“I’m still shaking,” Hardin said. “It’s wonderfully weird.”

She attended Girls Night Out with her friend Kay Muller, of Vancouver.

Hardin said she enjoyed seeing the shops in downtown Camas for the first time.

“It was really fun,” she said.

Girls Night Out was hosted by the Downtown Camas Association and downtown Camas merchants.

For information about future events, call 834-5445 or visit www.downtowncamas.com.