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Jan Faircloth Pugh would say so, too


Gladys Hill is hawking her lightbulbs for a fourth consecutive year as part of her “Light Up Fayetteville Pink!” fundraising effort for The Cancer Centers of Cape Fear Valley Health in recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And this year, Hill has set a goal of $10,000.

Breast cancer led to the death of Jan Faircloth Pugh, and her courageous fight to live remains in a community’s heart.

And certainly mine.

“I can’t leave my sweet Hudson,” she would say of her young daughter after being diagnosed on September 27, 2013.

And so, Jan Faircloth Pugh fought to live until her death at age 47 on August 21, 2019.

This is October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and for the fourth year Gladys Hill is selling those pink lightbulbs for her “Light Up Fayetteville Pink!” effort to raise money for The Cancer Centers of Cape Fear Valley Health.

“This year I’m shooting for $10,000,” Hill, 80, says.

Hill’s fundraising initiative in the past three years has brought $18,200 for The Cancer Centers, according to Sabrina Brooks, executive director of the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation. The foundation includes Friends of Cancer, the volunteer organization that assists women and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in this and surrounding communities.

Hill’s $10,000 goal is ambitious.

Her resolve to realize the goal has no boundaries.

Her pink lightbulbs, a donation from Carl and Chris Birk of Mid-South Lighting, are just $5 each, and you will find them aglow at homes and businesses throughout Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

Gladys Hill usually sells her pink lightbulbs at community events and festivals, and she had hoped this year to stage a live and silent auction to accent her efforts, but COVID-19, she says, dashed those plans.

“My friend, Diane Wilson, will be going with me to as many neighborhoods as we can,” Hill was saying in September about her door-to-door sales.

And all in the names of the estimated 276,480 women, who in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2020, according to the American Cancer Society, and the estimated 48,530 with carcinoma in situ, a non-invasive breast cancer. About 42,170 women will die from breast cancer.

And in the names of an estimated 2,620 men, who will be diagnosed in 2020 with invasive breast cancer, in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society, and an estimated 520, who will die from the disease.

“Gladys Hill is an amazing woman,” Emily Schaefer, president of the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation, says about Hill, who was diagnosed in June of 2019 with ductal carcinoma in situ. “She took the idea of ‘Light Up Fayetteville Pink!’ and made it a reality, all herself. Her heart and desire to help cancer patients is an inspiration. The health foundation is blessed by her example of hard work and determination to ‘Light Up Fayetteville Pink!’ and the funds it has raised to assist cancer patients in our health system.”

I’ve seen the faces of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in this community, and the face of Jan Faircloth Pugh not long after her diagnosis. And the faces of those who loved them. I was in communication with Jan Faircloth Pugh for much of her breast cancer journey. And I was there on Aug. 27, 2019, for her memorial service that drew 400 to the Orangery of Cape Fear Botanical Garden in the touching farewell for the inspiration Jan Faircloth Pugh left for others who know breast cancer, and for those who will know breast cancer.

Mary Kulig is the clinical manager for the Cape Fear Valley Cancer Centers, and Kulig will tell you that to see the pink lightbulbs glowing throughout this community is a visual reminder that those in this community diagnosed with breast cancer are not alone.

Jan Faircloth Pugh, who in her fight with breast cancer inspired a community beyond what we ever could imagine, would want you to know so, too.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at bkirby@cityviewnc.com, billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

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