Purple is for survivors

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By Jenna McKenna

Mary Grace Curtin adjusts a purple bow at her best friend Adamarie Keeton’s home in Bronson. Curtin has been making the bows, while Keeton and Keeton’s sister Libby Barrin bake cookies and organize the fund-raising effort for their Tri-County Relay for Life team, Team Margaret.

Keeton and Barr’s older sister Margaret Akins, the team’s namesake, died of brain cancer at the age of 49. Their youngest sister Ginny was diagnosed with lymphoma at 47 and had a series of radiation treatments before finally getting the encouraging word that her scans had come back clear. Keeton, Barr, Curtin and other women in their group of Southern Sisters worked throughout the year to make Team Margaret one of the top fund-raising teams in the Relay.

“We’ve always been passionate about Relay,” says Keeton.

This year, they’re doubly passionate, even as their work gets more difficult. Ginny’s scans look troublesome, and to make matters worse, Keeton was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Though her surgery was successful and the cancer doesn’t seem to have spread, the sisters have been blindsided by events unfolding. Keeton, in particular, seems frustrated by what looks to her like cancer’s attempt to impede her in her fight.

“I was passionate before, but now I’m mad,” she says.

What’s on her mind right now is getting those purple ribbons out on every doorknob and mailbox in Chiefland and Bronson. Tri-County Relay is May 1, and Adamarie and Libby were going to knock on every door and offer people the ribbons - purple is for survivorship - for the cost of a $10 donation. Libby will still do some ribbon-running, but she won’t be able to do as much.

Mary Grace has plenty of ribbons. To get yours, call Libby Barr at 352-339-1841, or email libby@bkcypress.com. Checks may be made out to American Cancer Society; they will go directly to benefit Tri-County Relay for Life, the proceeds from which go back to cancer sufferers in the area.