2019 ends on a high note for OBX cancer services organization

The community turned out in force on Nov. 1 to help raise funds for cancer patients. The annual "Get Pinked! And More" celebration helps raise funds and spread awareness about cancer care on the OBX.

Since 2005, there has been an organization at work here on the beach dedicated to improving cancer awareness and early detection. The Outer Banks Hospital Development Council was formed 14 years ago. Two years later, it opened the Cancer Resource Center next to the hospital through donation money from the OBX community.

On Nov. 1, the Council hosted its annual “Get Pinked! And More” event at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head and $24,000 was raised.

The annual celebration is a spin-off of its “Get Pinked!” program, which raises funds for services that improve breast health. “Get Pinked! And More” was created a couple of years ago after changes to our nation’s healthcare system generated more coverage for breast cancer screenings, a service “Get Pinked!” provides for free. The “Get Pinked! And More” event funds screenings for cancers other than breast cancer, such as lung and colon, which are sometimes not covered by insurance.

The event’s theme was “Best of Broadway” and featured guests from the Theatre of Dare performing songs from Broadway favorites like “Chicago,” and “Les Miserables.” Two members of the Get Pinked! Event Committee, Dawn Holcomb of Dawn’s Kitchen and Richard Bruce from Pigman’s BBQ, coordinated a Big Apple-themed dinner buffet. With their help, and through donations from US Foods, Just Desserts, and Pok’s Art, guests dined on beef with a chimichurri sauce, pork loin in apricot sauce, two different types of pasta and salad, and what seemed to be the room’s favorite — a mashed potato bar with a choice of bacon, cheddar, chives, butter, and sautéed onions for toppings.

After a delicious dinner and before the much-anticipated live auction kicked off, guest speaker Judy Hahs — owner of OBX Shipping Center & OBX Transit in Kill Devil Hills, and a COAST columnist — discussed her family’s struggle after her daughter, Jennifer Wall, was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a bile duct cancer. Wall, who was married to Jason Wall and was the mother of two young children, lost her 3-year cancer battle on Nov. 20, 2018. She was 36.

Also at the event, Dr. Christina Bowen, M.D. spoke about the Outer Banks Center for Healthy Living, which specializes in helping people achieve their personal goals as they relate to health and well-being. Lifestyle modification including maintaining a healthy body mass index, improving nutrition, minimizing alcohol, and tobacco cessation are just some of the things the Center for Healthy Living assists with to give people power over cancer.

The Center also focuses on patients’ joy, happiness, spirituality, and stress management. Dr. Bowen also described how, through donations at the “Get Pinked! And More” event, they’ve incorporated music and art therapy (techniques not covered by insurance) into patients’ care plans, and how they’ve helped patients in late-stages of cancer have life experiences with their families they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Thanks to the “Get Pinked!” and “Get Pinked! And More” events, grants, and donations from the community, OBX residents fighting cancer have a fighting chance: In 2019, the Outer Banks welcomed its first full-time, permanent medical oncologist, Dr. William Guenther, and a new state-of-the-art Radiation Therapy Center.

The Outer Banks Hospital Development Council’s next fundraising event is a black-tie gala set for Feb. 8, 2020, at Duck Woods Country Club, which will mark the 15th anniversary of this organization. Sponsorships for the gala are available now.

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