As October approaches, we begin to see a sea of pink: pink shirts, pink jewelry, pink hair… you name it. One of the fearless leaders of our local pink movement is Cathy Albritton. She is the Director of Marketing and Community Relations for Florida Hospital Heartland Division. She has been “telling the story of Florida Hospital” for 11 years and over the last several years, she has been instrumental in the many pink events Seascape Imaging and Florida Hospital have organized.
What many may not know is that this well-known and much-loved member of our community is a 7th generation Floridian with roots in St. Augustine. She was actually born in Walker Memorial Hospital. She enjoys quiet places and art. She is also a breast cancer survivor of 4 years and 7 months.
“Any kind of cancer is life changing,” Cathy states. “But I was fortunate not go it alone.” She found a breast cancer website that allowed her to contact an individual in Mississippi by the name of BJ Speed that was diagnosed with the same type of breast cancer just two weeks before her. They went through every process and treatment together, drawing strength from their shared experience.
She has also organized a group of ten women in the community that are also survivors to help make a difference and get the message out. Their message is clear: breast cancer isn’t just in October and mammograms are easy and can save your life. “It’s not a club you want to belong to. It’s not the sorority I wanted to join. It’s the card we were all dealt,” Albritton states. She now finds great joy in helping others in the community that have been diagnosed and gives plenty of advice to those dealing with that situation. “Don’t get ahead of yourself and only think about your next appointment.” She advises. “Only educate yourself enough for your next appointment and don’t get too far ahead or get on the Internet and scare yourself.” There are also local support groups in the Heartland to help patients, survivors and caretakers. Florida Hospital is also starting its newest “pink movement” called the Pink Army. You can find out more by visiting www.jointhepinkarmy.com.
Cathy’s caring nature and ability to laugh at anything (including herself) has endeared her to many in her personal and professional life. She uses her life experiences to try to make a difference in people’s lives. “Unless you’ve walked that path, you don’t really ‘get it’,” Albritton says. “I just appreciate the small things and treat every day as a gift. I try to remember that you can plan all you want, but things happen. It’s like the sign here in my office: Life is all about how you handle Plan B.”