As long as we keep a positive outlook on life, there is always hope in the fight against breast cancer.

This was one of the key messages conveyed during the 16th annual Lioness Lionss Lionss Club of Lehighton March held at Lehighton Boys and Girls Band Hall on Tuesday.

About 200 attendees took part in the event, according to Alicia Silliman, presidents of the event.

Bagpiper Beth Ritter-Guth led the march, which started at the Music Hall and continued to the Amphitheater in Lehighton Park.

Silliman welcomed those in attendance to the amphitheater and joked that everyone thought it was bad when they suffered the Facebook outage on Monday.

“I don’t think this trip is anything compared to what our survivors went through,” Silliman said on a serious note. “We are here tonight to (create) breast cancer awareness and to discuss the effects of research.”

Kim Gerhard, owner of Perfect Balance Boutique in Lehighton and a former breast cancer survivor, spoke of being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.

“At the time, I felt it was destroying my life,” Gerhard said. “When I was having the surgeries, I felt like no one was listening to me.”

Gerhard said that when she went to visit her sister in North Carolina, she learned that there were mastectomy products available.

“I knew this is what I wanted to do is bring a store to Lehighton and educate women that there is something other than plastic surgery,” she said. “The first year was very difficult when we opened the store.

Everything changed once a customer walked into Gerhard’s store.

“A client came in and told me how much I had changed her life, and I thought that was what I needed to do,” she said. “Now, almost three years later, I have women who travel 2.5 hours just to get adjusted to the store.”

Gerhard explained his current mission.

“Right now we are teaching the doctors and nurse navigators what women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer are entitled to because there is so much when you are diagnosed with breast cancer,” she declared. “Some women just can’t have plastic or reconstructive surgery; they need to know that there are other things out there.

Gerhard said things were going well, all things considered.

“Right now I don’t have cancer anymore,” she said. “There are still issues that persist, but other than that I’m fine. “

As part of the ceremony, breast cancer survivors were recognized, each indicating her name and how long she has survived.

At the amphitheater, each survivor was encouraged to share their journey.

Silliman said about 15 cancer survivors have signed up.

Interested survivors were able to have their photos taken for the 2021 Carbon County Breast Cancer Survivors Wall, which will be posted on Facebook.

There was also an “In the Pink” basket raffle in the concert hall, and the “Pink Heals” ambulance was on hand to show support for all those who have or have had breast cancer.

A donation to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition was made in honor of all of the survivors who participated in the walk.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition represents, supports and serves breast cancer survivors and their families in Pennsylvania through educational programs, legislative advocacy, and breast cancer research grants.

There was no charge to register or participate in the walk. Each participant who registered received a pink luminous bracelet and each survivor received a luminous bracelet and a small gift. Light refreshments were available for all participants.

For more information on the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, visit pabreastcancer.org.

In addition to the coalition, the Lioness Lions Club of the Lehighton area supports many community and Lions projects each year.

Club meetings are typically held at 6 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month at Lehighton Boys and Girls Band Hall.

Bowmanstown breast cancer survivor Louise Everett signs the ‘Pink Heals’ ambulance at Lehighton Boys and Girls Band Hall ahead of the start of the 16th annual Lehighton Lioness Lionss Lions Club March on Tuesday. TERRY AHNER / NEWS TIMES

Kim Gerhard, a breast cancer survivor, spoke on the Pink Light Walk on Tuesday evening.

In the photo on the left, Rylyn Strohl, a grade eight student from the Panther Valley School District, and Justine Pauker, a grade nine student from the Lehighton School District, lead the march. Behind them is Beth Ritter-Guth, bagpiper. TERRY AHNER / NEWS TIMES


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