You interact with strangers every day – your co-workers, your store cashier, your waiter. You might not ever know that the person you sit next to every day is undergoing something that is altering her life.
Annette Weese has worked for Cold Creek Nurseries for 13 years. She has come in as a hard worker does and stays on hand for those with plant and pest questions.
She’s a “bundle of nerves” – her words – and sees most of the people she interacts with as a family.
In November 2011, Weese was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nobody else in her family had had it. She “had never been sick a day in her life.”
It was a different feeling.
“I grew up in a time when you didn’t survive from it, you died from it,” she said.
More than 40,000 people in the United States are expected to die from breast cancer this year. All besides about 1 percent are estimated to be women, according to the American Cancer Society.
Weese had surgery in December and started treatment in January.
“There were days, after chemotherapy, I would be in bed for three or four days, but other than that ... I kept on working,” she said.
Today, she’s “well and healthy.” She buzzes around Cold Creek as if 2011 and 2012 were filled with just regular days.
“I had somebody the other day say, ‘I didn’t know you were sick,’” she said.
And she does her part for others. When knowing customers come in, they tell their tales. Her solid reply?
“Get your mammograms done.” It might have been what saved her, she said.
She recently came across the Invicibelle Spirit – a rich pink hydrangea grown for breast cancer awareness.
Then her wheels started turning. She had heard about the Aiken Regional Medical Centers’ group Women Enlightened and wanted to help promote their purpose.
So, she pulled the two together for the Pink Garden Party that will be held June 27 at Cold Creek. The night will feature music from the local band Anybody’s Guess and refreshments of food, wine and beer. There will be gardening demonstrations and door prizes.
If you like to take photos, a photo booth will be present as well.
The Invicibelle Spirit will be sold. A dollar from each sale will go to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased until Thursday. All money from the event will go to the Savannah River Cancer Foundation.
“We are very honored to be their charity of choice for such a wonderful cause,” said Jamie Turner, Savannah River Cancer Foundation executive director.
Breast cancer is women’s most common form of cancer, according to Turner. Men are more likely to get prostate cancer but can get breast cancer, she said.
There’s no complete way to prevent it or any other cancer type.
“Education, communication and screening are key factors in catching cancers in their earliest stages. Everyone has the responsibility of listening to their bodies. You know when something isn’t right,” Turner said.
As Weese likes to say, “Get your mammograms.” They could save your life.
Cold Creek Nurseries is at 398 Hitchcock Parkway. For more information, call 803-648-3592.