Photo Gallery: Butterflies take flight to raise awareness of ovarian cancer

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”282″ gal_title=”Butterfly Release”]

The air was calm on the north lawn of the State House Thursday evening. Then came the command from the steps. “Release your butterflies,” host Dawndy Mercer Plank said, and the crowd obeyed. Moments later, hundreds of butterflies were everywhere: landing on the grass, landing on the people in the crowd, and soaring off to parts unknown.

The release of the insects was the culmination of the 10th annual Whispers event, organized by the Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Central South Carolina to promote awareness of the disease.

Judith DeNoyior, a Coalition board member, said the group chose the butterfly release as a symbol for two reasons. Ovarian cancer’s symptoms are often missed or thought to be something else, as if whispering. Also, a Native American legend says anyone who wants a wish to come true must capture a butterfly and whisper the wish to it, then release it. Since a butterfly makes no sound, it can only reveal the wish to the Great Spirit, who will grant it.

The wish of many Thursday was no secret: they hoped for a cure for ovarian cancer, which takes the lives of 15,000 women each year, according to Coalition statistics.

The diagnosis of ovarian cancer came in 1997 for Jeannie Burkett. “My prognosis back then wasn’t great,” she said. Gesturing to other survivors who attended the ceremony, she said “We want to see this group of people get bigger every year.

Oncologist Dr. James Williams said progress is being made. “What we really have to look forward to, what we’ve seen in the last few years, is increasing awareness of the importance of early detection,” he said. “In all diseases, we do better at prevention than we do at treatment.”

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Proceeds from Thursday’s event go to the Coalition’s mission of educating women in the Midlands about ovarian cancer. More information on the Coalition and on preventing and diagnosing ovarian cancer is available here.

 

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