Horizon of Hope
AMY ZUBEK/TIMES NEWS Organizers of the Fifth Annual Horizon of Hope luncheon gather around a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon, made out of Longaberger measuring cups, to show their support of Jessyca Fredericks, center, who is currently battling breast cancer and was this year's recipient of the luncheon's proceeds. Organizers are, from left, Michelle Milisits, Danette Troxell, Beatrice Schafer, Ellen Counterman, Deb Oswald, Jessyca Fredericks, Angela Buckles, Donna Hall, Christine Serfass, Farrah Greenszweig, and Kelly Fenstermaker.
The Fifth Annual Horizon of Hope luncheon, held at Jim Thorpe Memorial Hall on Sunday, brought mothers, daughters, and friends together to help raise money for a local woman who is battling breast cancer.
This year's luncheon, which was organized by the Woven Friendships Branch of Longaberger Home Consultants, had the highest number of attendees ever with 105 women and children filling the banquet hall to support Jessyca Fredericks.
The luncheon also serves to raise awareness of the most common form of cancer in women.
Fredericks, 30, of Palmerton was diagnosed with breast cancer on May 27. This is the second year the group designated the proceeds to go to a family to help cover medical expenses that are incurred as a result of this disease. Before that, all proceeds went to the American Cancer Society.
The day was perfect as participants gathered to enjoy a meal, listen to inspirational words, take part in a Chinese auction, and help the fight against breast cancer, which affects more than 200,000 women annually.
Danette Troxell, branch leader, opened the luncheon with a short welcome speech and thanked all the companies and donors for the Chinese auction, which was how the day's proceeds were raised, a successful one. She then introduced Bonnie Myers, who said a prayer over the luncheon.
After lunch, Troxell introduced guest speaker Michelle Huk of Lehighton.
Huk, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34, spoke about her battle against the disease and how she overcame the trauma of not feeling like a woman. Huk had a mastectomy to remove one of her breasts as a result of the cancer.
At the time of her diagnosis in 2006, Huk was a newlywed, having been married only 10 months. This ordeal, she felt, was not something her new husband, Michael, should have to experience, but the support he and her family provided helped her win her battle.
She credits him; as well as her friends and family for keeping her spirits high while she underwent three surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation.
She has now been in remission for two years, seven months.
After her own story, Huk provided words of encouragement to many in attendance, as well as urged women who have friends dealing with cancer to be there for them.
She said send cards or flowers, prayers, or make meals and give them to those who need it, because these little gestures are what help the families make it through.
"We don't know where the end is," Huk said. "Life is so precious, so short. Live it to the fullest. Cancer doesn't affect just one person, it affects everyone."
She ended her presentation with a reminder of the importance of knowing your body and getting checked when something isn't right.
This year, Huk was named as an honoree at the Blue Cross of NEPA's 2009 Gallery of Hope, a traveling display of survivors' stories about their battles against breast cancer.
She is also a member of the Blue Mountain Women's Cancer Support Group, and volunteers at Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital, the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, and the American Cancer Society.
Following Huk's speech, Troxell asked the committee members to approach the podium. The group presented Fredericks with a gift of appreciation for all of her help throughout the years and for her strength during her battle.
Fredericks has helped organize the Horizon of Hope luncheon for three years and even helped decorate for this year's event.
A very emotional Fredericks then addressed the audience.
"I used to do this (the luncheon) to help support someone else, never thinking that it would be me one day," Fredericks said.
She spoke of how she watched as her mother, Nadine Schmidt, battled against breast cancer at the age of 38.
Now, the wife and mother of two is fighting her own battle at the age of 30.
Since being diagnosed earlier this year, Fredericks has had a double mastectomy to stop the spread of the cancer.
"We'd like to thank everyone for their kindness and hope that one day there will be a cure," she said.