Cancer awareness event set at American Legion Saturday

ALBANY, Ga. -- A Sylvester woman, through her own family's experience with breast cancer, is doing her part on Saturday to help create more birthdays.

A breast cancer awareness event is set for 4 p.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday at American Legion Post 512 on Willie Pitts Jr. Road.

The event is being coordinated by Sharon Lyles, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and resident of Sylvester, who has had some experience with breast cancer in her family.

"My grandmother died of it when she was 59, and my mom had it," Lyles said. "She (my mother) got it at the same age my grandmother did.

"I didn't have the experience (of having a grandmother) growing up."

The event, which is free and open to the public, will have a wider focus than just breast cancer, Lyles said. At 5:30 p.m., a balloon release is planned -- for which there will be several colors to choose from for those wishing to dedicate one in honor of memory of someone regardless of which cancer they were impacted by.

"There will be pink balloons (for breast cancer), as well as others colors to represent other cancers," she said.

While this is her first year doing something like this, Lyles said she strives to do something every year in October to raise awareness -- and even wears pink every day of the month.

She has shown no signs of stopping this cause any time soon.

"I have a passion for this, I'm driven," Lyles said. "I don't want to leave it alone.

"I didn't have a grandma growing up. That disease (breast cancer) took her (my grandmother) away from her family. I just turned 50, and to me, I've not had breast cancer, but I've been through other things and I want to celebrate."

On Saturday, there will be opportunities for those to speak in recognition of cancer survivors, as well as refreshments. There may possibly be a candle lighting, Lyles said.

The National Cancer Institute estimates 226,870 new cases of breast cancer in women and 2,190 cases in men for this year. At the same time, 39,510 women and 410 men were expected to succumb to the disease.

"There are a lot of people who don't pay attention to their bodies," Lyles said. "People overlook (the signs), or are scared to get checked.

"If you can't afford it, see what resources are out there (to help)."

Those who choose to make a donation will have the option of doing so at the event. For more information, contact Lyles at (229) 881-0098.