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Breast cancer survivors celebrate at ‘Jubilation-Joy’ dinner

Guests leave for dinner GambRistorante vilimousine during Barden Gary FoundatiFriends Barden Gary Foundation's 'Jubilee-Joy Celebration' RadissHotel Star PlazMerrillville. | Jeffrey

Guests leave for dinner at Gamba Ristorante via limousine during the Barden Gary Foundation and Friends of the Barden Gary Foundation's "Jubilee-Joy Celebration" at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 7, 2012 2:59PM



The Celebrity Ballroom at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville was a sea of pink and black as 160 breast cancer survivors and their friends and families rejoiced at the annual “Jubilation Joy-Celebration” event held Oct. 25.

Jubilation was presented by the Barden Gary Foundation and Friends of the Barden Gary Foundation honoring breast cancer survivors from throughout Northwest Indiana and Chicago, the latter joining in for the first time through the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

This is the third year for the event and was dedicated to the late Majestic Star Casino owner Don H. Barden, who died of lung cancer in May 2011. Chareice White, Barden Gary Foundation president and Majestic Star Casino corporate community relations specialist, called it an “incredible event” honoring breast cancer survivors.

It included networking time before the women were treated to transportation by Avanti Limousines to special dinners hosted by the Radisson and restaurants and business within a five-minute drive, including Gamba Ristorante, Methodist Hospitals, Abuelo’s, Taste of India, Gino’s Steakhouse, Schepel Cadillac, Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Albert’s Jewelers, Dr. Deborah L. McCullough, Majestic Star Casinos and Hotel, The Patio, Asparagus, and Walter E. Smithe Furniture Store.

Flo Smithe, 74, is a 30-year breast cancer survivor. She dined with a group of fellow survivors and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson at the family-owned and operated furniture store.

Prior to the dinner, Smithe said she was more than excited to be a part of Jubilation and even more excited to see women talk openly about breast cancer.

“When I was young, nobody talked about breast cancer,” she said. “Seeing all of these women together is proof that even when you are suffering, you can survive.”

Brenda Ledbetter, 64, of Gary, wore an ensemble of pale pink, from her hat to her shoes. She was diagnosed in March 2010 and is celebrating 31 months as a survivor.

“I am a registered nurse at Methodist Hospital. During chemotherapy and radiation treatments I continued to work, plus I had the support from my family, friends and coworkers. I had my faith in God and I kept pushing,” Ledbetter said.

Albert’s Jewelers special events coordinator Helen Garrison hosted a dinner at Gamba.

She sat with a group of survivors and supporters. Diane Artis spoke about her daughter Laini Kavata Fluellen, who died at age 38 of triple negative breast cancer in 2009.

Soon after her daughter’s death, Artis formed Laini Fluellen Charities and has established The Pink Tie Affair and Save Our Daughters Walk/Fun Run.

“We choose to celebrate Laini’s life as she had a passion for life before and after her diagnosis and journey,” Artis said.



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