— By SALLY SEXTON
For the eighth year in a row, residents, business owners and supporters of breast cancer survivors gathered for the annual Pink Luncheon, held Friday at Victory Baptist Church. As has become tradition the last few years, the event was once again a sold-out success.
As lines gathered to sample lunch, other event-goers circled the room in search of items to bid on, which included a gun and case, spa package, facial treatments, a free painting session, and more.
The program began with introductions from co-hosts Karen Borta, of KTVT-TV (CBS 11) news, and Brent Baker, with Weatherford College. Vocalist Beverly Branch performed a musical rendition of the “Lord’s Prayer.”
The guest of honor was Leslie Mouton, a news anchor and reporter with KSAT-12 in San Antonio. Mouton is also a breast cancer survivor.
“At 35, I found a spot on my breast, something that felt like a tiny rock or pebble,” Mouton said.
The reporter, already an advocate for self-exams and regular screenings, would do self exams each month before finding the spot in 2001.
“It might seem strange, but my first fear was not of dying of cancer, it was of cancer killing my career,” Mouton said.
After undergoing chemotherapy, the reality of losing her hair set in, which scared her even more, she said. Taking the bull by the horns, Mouton hosted a party with close family and friends. She had her hair braided in sections and tied with ribbons. Family and friends would take a turn cutting off a “memory lock” before Mouton had her head shaved.
“My family was so supportive,” she said. “My husband shaved his head with me. And it wasn’t even once. He would shave every day so he would be as bald as I was.
“People would look at us funny when we’d walk down the street because 13 years ago, it wasn’t so common for a women battling cancer to be walking around bald in public.”
In order to reach out and educate the public, Mouton made the ultimate decision — to document her struggle through a news story.
“I felt this tugging and it felt like God was telling me there was a better purpose,” she said. “In faith, sometimes we bargain but this time I just decided to let go and step out.”
Mouton shared everything with the public, including coming out on live television without her wig. Her decision caused ripples all over.
“I got to meet Oprah, I got to meet Diane Sawyer, people everywhere were contacting me,” she said.
Now, with a head full of blonde hair, Mouton still attends speaking engagements and encourages women to conduct monthly self-exams and get regular mammograms.
“Only 10 percent of breast cancer is hereditary, so just because it’s not in your family doesn’t mean you can get it,” she said.