Holidays – Christmas in particular – are times when the spirit of giving and good will are prevalent. It was evident when Charessa Sawyer of Simply Charessa Events and Ladie Roc of WAEC Love 860 & Unique Tulips hosted the first “I AM a Survivor: Embracing the Holidays through the Struggle” Dinner Party December 20th at Truffles Café in Atlanta. This was an event recognizing and sharing similar personal triumphs over breast cancer; all while networking with other survivors, and donating gifts and money to support the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta.
The purpose of the dinner party was to acknowledge challenges that people may be dealing with during the holidays, and to learn useful ways to provide support and guidance to those in need. Speakers provided helpful information on grief and loss, coping techniques and motivational guidance. Guests also had the opportunity to write a word on a special golden holiday ornament that has helped them through an experience; they also spoke about their experience during an open forum.
I’ve attended other breast cancer awareness events but none have been as intimate as this event. It might have been the guests and supporters who were in attendance, maybe the treats and gift bags or holiday activities such as sing-a-longs and games. What I actually witnessed and was a part of were survivor stories, either personal or shared experiences.
I spoke with a woman who attended out of support for her sister who was diagnosed in August 2012, had her surgery in October, and became a survivor in early December. There was a young man who lost his Grandmother when he was a freshman in high school. He’s now a sophomore and he’s still affected by her loss.
This was by no means a somber affair. Guests played holiday games such as, “Guess the holiday song”, “Memory game”, and “T’was the Night before Christmas” between each guest speaker, won prizes throughout the night, and enjoyed a special musical selection by 12 year old Aaron Brumfield. Guests were also treated to awesome coconut shrimp appetizers, cocktails and candy canes.
Charessa’s commitment to this cause – which she vows to make happen yearly – is coming from a place of experience. She will be the first to tell her story about how her mother was diagnosed with the serious and often deadly disease, and how during the holidays one can feel more alone than at any other time. Holidays are usually a time when good times are celebrated. However, she is a walking testimony after beating the odds, there’s the fact that life itself needs to be celebrated.
Additional information provided by Simply Charessa Events.