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Examiner
  • Cancer survivor organizes annual library event

  • While relaxing one day in 2006, Pam Knipp felt a lump under her armpit.

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  • While relaxing one day in 2006, Pam Knipp felt a lump under her armpit.
    That single moment took place “by God’s grace,” says Knipp, a library assistant at Mid-Continent Public Library’s Blue Springs North Branch. She had the lump checked out and was diagnosed with breast cancer.
    Knipp and doctors had caught the cancer early. She finished treatment in 2007, and by 2009, she wanted to give back to the community.
    “Everybody has been touched by breast cancer in one way or another,” Knipp says. “Somehow, someway, everyone has been touched by it.”
    With the support of Mid-Continent, Knipp started the Pink Party, a series of breast cancer-awareness events sponsored at the library. Pink Party recently wrapped up its fourth year, with a variety of women attending the events, including survivors, friends, family and those still undergoing treatment.
    The Pink Party slogan is “Courage to live, Strength to fight, Love to give, Pink for life.”
    “The party is all about the party,” Knipp says. “I try to have as much fun as possible and be upbeat because they’re already down in the dumps.”
    Knipp says her biggest motivator is encouraging women to care about themselves, especially when it comes to performing monthly self breast exams. She says women should include a friend as an accountability partner to ensure they’ll both perform the self-exams on the same day every month.
    “It can just be a text that says, ‘Today is the day,’ just a simple reminder to stop and to care about yourself to do that self-breast exam,” Knipp says.
    At Pink Party events, women receive pink toothbrushes as a reminder that they brush their teeth every day and that they, too, should check their breasts for lumps or abnormalities once a month.
    Different vendors, including medical professsionals, acupuncture services and yoga classes also attend the Pink Party, and attendees get booklets from the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation about questions to ask doctors.
    Knipp keeps bags from the Pink Party year-round at the library for those patrons who come in and say they were recently diagnosed with breast cancer. After the first year, an acquaintance of Knipp’s who had attended the party said she would go get a mammogram afterward. She was then diagnosed with breast cancer.
    As a survivor, Knipp says she received some of the best advice from a friend who lost her life to breast cancer. That friend used to say, “Just be a trooper. We’re survivors, but we’re strivers – strive to your very best, and live your best every day.”
    The friend also said, “You will hit speed bumps, but once you hit them, make sure you soar off of them.”
    Says Knipp: “Try to live your life as normal as you used to. You will have a pity party sometimes and will want to cry. Cry in the mirror, get it over with, pull your bootstraps up, and move on.”
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