Not only is the event in its 32nd year and a legacy to her late father-in-law, Larry Phillips, who founded the rodeo, this year’s rodeo means that more women will hear and see the importance of breast cancer awareness and education.
That’s because Bridgett, who co-organizes the rodeo with her husband, Danny, is also a breast cancer survivor.
Bridgett was not at high risk for breast cancer. She was just 40 when she was diagnosed. She also had no family history and was diligent about getting her annual mammograms.
“I started having my mammograms at 35, because I felt like it was one of the most important things I could do for my health,” she said. “That diligence is what helped save my life.”
This year, in an effort to raise awareness for breast cancer education and early detection, Gordon Hospital is joining forces with Phillips Championship Rodeo to paint the arena and the stands pink.
“This is a wonderful organization to partner with,” says Kim Brazell, director of marketing and public relations for Gordon Hospital. “Bridgett’s story is an inspiration to all women about the importance of taking charge of your health and the importance of annual screening.”
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that more than 230,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year. In addition, the ACS also says that having a first degree relative (like a mother, sister, daughter with breast cancer) doubles the risk. Although in 85 percent of new cases, there is no family history of the disease.
Bridgett fit into that 85 percent with no family history of the illness. In fact, she went in for her routine annual mammogram in February of 2008 expecting no issues, and medical professionals saw what they thought was a floating lymph node. The doctors, in Oklahoma where Bridgett is originally from and where she was diagnosed and treated, were not alarmed so she wasn’t either. They decided to watch it. By June of that same year, she could feel a lump and grew concerned, so she went back in to see her physician.
“In four short months, it had grown to a Stage 3 tumor and was being fed by the estrogen in my body. They weren’t able to do a lumpectomy so I had to have a mastectomy. I had five months of chemo and seven weeks of radiation, but am thankful to be cancer free now,” she said.
“The best advice that I can give … is to take charge of your health,” said Bridgett. “For you and everyone you love. We, as mothers, oftentimes make our husbands and our kids the priority, but you can’t neglect your own healthcare needs either. I think it is what saved my life. That and the fact that I was surrounded by what I call my ‘circle of power’ which were friends and family that radiated positive energy during my treatment.”
Gordon Hospital is committed to offering the latest in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment through its Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.
“We are very unique in that we have been a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence since 2007, which is a special accreditation by the American College of Radiology and means that our personnel and our tests have met very stringent requirements,” said Raina Sanford, director of radiology at Gordon. “In addition, we have a new digital mammography machine that provides a larger field of view (for large breasted women), and has less radiation exposure, and our images are read by the area’s only radiologist with specialized training in women’s imaging. So women can rest assured that they are getting a quality scan with quality results.”
The Tough Enough to Wear Pink Rodeo will feature cowboys and cowgirls from all over the southeastern part of the United States, as well as, several local contestants. Rodeo athletes will be competing in events like calf roping, team roping, bronc riding and the signature event, bull riding. The rodeo has a rich history in Calhoun and Gordon County. The Calhoun Optimist Club was the first organization involved in sponsorship of the rodeo.
“The rodeo is a great venue for us,” said Brazell. “It’s a fun night with lots of exciting events. We want everyone to come out and support the rodeo and our cause. We will have information and goodies, we will be doing some health screenings too. Plus, if you are ‘Tough Enough to Wear Pink’ then you can be entered into our door prize drawings.”
For Bridgett, this event is a great way to combine her two passions.
“I was blessed and I had a great result,” she said. “Now, we just need to make sure that every other woman can have that same outcome.”
About the Rodeo:
When: Friday and Saturday, Aug. 12 and 13
Where: Phillips Arena (475 Mt. Zion Road, Resaca)
Events start at 8 p.m., but come early to get the best seat
Pink theme: All fans are asked to wear pink to the rodeo in an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer. The goal is to “Pink-Out” the rodeo area.
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at the gate. Adults $10 Child (age 5-8) $5. Children 4 and under free. For more information, call 706-218-0382 or visit Facebook, keyword: Phillips Championship Rodeo.