South Mississippians Promote Cancer Awareness

Some South Mississippi women affected by cancer are turning their hurt into hope.

A cancer awareness festival was held Sunday sponsored by a group called "Hearts of Hope".

The Shed Bar-b-que Joint was the platform for the Hearts of Hope Cancer Awareness Festival. The outdoor concert and auction was designed not only to help victims of cancer but their friends and family as well.

"I used to call it a terrible disease, to me it's beyond that. It is a world-wide epidemic. It is going to touch every family unfortunately and it almost has already," says JoAn Niceley with the Hearts of Hope.

JoAn is also the owner of JoAn's Hair Studio in Long Beach. She's also a four-year breast cancer survivor. That's what inspired her to start the Pink Heart Fund. A non-profit organization that helps women purchase wigs and prostheses.

"If it's not you, it could be a loved one, a neighbor, a friend. You just don't know when you may need that help and that is why The Pink Heart Funds was founded," says Niceley.

Niceley's dedication led her to Michelle Hirata, an artist who lost her mother to breast cancer three years ago.

"After I lost her, I started on my journey of healing and to make something that was going to make somebody feel beautiful," says Hirata.

Michelle taught herself to how to knit and from that came the now trendy chemo hat.

"When somebody wears one of my hats, they are comfortable. But instead of coming up to the person and saying, oh I'm so sorry you have cancer, they come up to them excitedly and say, oh my gosh where did you get that hat, I have to have one. And that's where the change is," says Hirata.

However, Michelle's talent doesn't end there. She also wrote a poem which local artist Rochelle turned into a song that the women hope will become the national anthem for cancer. Until then, they say they will continue to bring hope, strength and beauty to cancer survivors all over the world.

Sunday's fundraiser raised almost six-thousand dollars. For more information on the fundraiser or to make a donation you can call 452-0001.