Debbie Morey was in costume with her husband, Jim, at Music Showcase on Oct. 20, at an adult party that rocked long past its announced closing. The party followed a day of fund-raising in a month of drives aimed to help Morey, this year's selected recipient for money raised at the music store and education center for October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"I'm done with my chemotherapy, I have surgery Tuesday," she said. But with two kids at home who need her attention, Morey vowed to conquer all that is before her. As she put it: "I just can't be sick."
Music Showcase in September sought nominations of local women with breast cancer undergoing treatment to receive this month's collected donations for October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Morey's story, on a nomination form, was submitted by her friend Nikole Whitehead, who noted Morey's "treatment with an experimental drug for stage 4 breast cancer." Before her diagnosis, Morey's 5-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and is now in remission. Morey has two other children. One serves in the U.S. Navy and the other has Down syndrome and needs 24-hour care at home.
For her children, for her husband, for herself, Morey said, she is engaged in the fight for her life.
"They're an amazing family, they're certainly worth the reward, they've been through so much," Whitehead said, also in attendance at the costume party.
"We both have children with special needs," she added. "I was a volunteer advocate and I helped her family with issues her son had and we just became friends."
In the company of friends, in the Music Showcase theater, Morey said she is overwhelmed by the largesse of the Greater Brandon community.
"It feels like a big hug," Morey said, about her selection to receive funds, which as of Oct. 20 amounted to just under $1,300. That's the total raised last year for Shelley Ellis, now a breast cancer survivor, who also was at the costume party.
Morey stressed the importance of self-examination. Her reaction to the news she had breast cancer?
"Unbelievable," Morey said. "I felt [the lump] in the shower, but I didn't feel it the day before. It was huge. For it to have grown so fast [is unbelievable]. I hadn't kept up with my mammograms."
Now, that is the message she is spreading to anyone who will listen: Get your mammograms, don't be lax.
As for how she will use the money that is being raised on her behalf, Morey said it will help offset her driving expenses, going to doctors and to treatments, and it comes at a great time, because the new year starts for her health coverage and that includes a $1,000 deductible.
"We didn't think we would go through that much [money]," she said.
Her message to donors, she added, is, "Thank you."
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the month Music Showcase is selling cookies, cupcakes, pink flower pens and ribbon cards to support the cause of a local woman battling the disease. Funds raised through Oct. 30 will be turned over to Debbie Morey at Music Showcase on Nov. 2. Residents can support the cause as well by donating gift cards for use in area stores and restaurants.
For information about Music Showcase, and its events, call 813-685-5998 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.