The cause behind the color

Pink-themed selfies, portraits and pooch raise breast cancer awareness

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


Betty Jo Lively Currie knows a screening mammogram may have saved her life.

The 1998 breast cancer diagnosis required chemotherapy and a mastectomy to conquer, but without early detection, Currie may not have lived to see remission.

“I just know that God had that scheduled just for me to go in,” Currie said. “I just think it’s so important for women to do that. I can’t stress that enough.”

As a two-time cancer survivor — after a 2013 thymoma diagnosis, her thymus gland was surgically removed to excise a tumor — Currie shares the importance of regular medical screenings with everyone she knows. With some help from her children, Currie is spreading that message throughout Wilson County.

Daughter-in-law Megan Lively entered a snapshot of a smiling Currie in The Wilson Times’ Think Pink photo contest presented by Wilson Outpatient Imaging Center.

Currie’s picture received the most votes on WilsonTimes.com in the contest’s Survivor Selfie category and won her a massage from Five Touch Spa & Salon.

“I feel very humble to have been chosen,” Currie said. “I really feel undeserving because there are so many who are going through it right now. I would love to be able to give the gift to someone else.”

Currie hopes the photo contest win will help amplify her message about the importance of screening mammograms and allow her to reach more women. She credits her faith in God and support from her family and church with helping her overcome two cancer diagnoses.

“I just thank God for my family,” she said. “They have been my strength.”

Currie said her son and daughter-in-law, Vincent and Megan Lively, husband Dennis Currie, daughters Renee and Elizabeth, stepdaughters Christy and Tamela and stepson Keith all deserve her gratitude.

Peter Rossi, a registered nurse who serves as director of operative and perioperative services at Wilson Medical Center, won two of the five photo contest categories — Selfie and Shades of Pink.

The winning selfie showcases his bushy mustache dyed magenta pink, a tradition he started seven years ago and continues each October for the duration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Rossi lost his wife to cancer six years ago.

“It’s basically a conversation starter,” he said, “and it’s a shocker, but mission accomplished. We all have a cause and my cause is breast cancer awareness. Women over the age of 45 should have an annual screening mammogram and women who are younger or at-risk should speak with their doctor.”

Rossi’s winning photo in the Shades of Pink category shows him wearing a pink bandana, tutu and beaded necklace over his blue hospital scrubs. The tutu belonged to a nurse manager he supervised in New York who died of breast cancer.

He began wearing the ruffled sash tied with a pink bow emblazoned with breast cancer awareness ribbons while walking the children’s oncology unit at his former hospital in New York. The tradition accompanied him on his move to Wilson.

“They always looked forward to Tutu Tuesdays,” he said. “That’s a conversation starter as well.”

Each October, Rossi distributes the pink beads around the hospital and in the community to remind people of the women battling breast cancer and the need for regular mammograms. He’s given away 600 beaded necklaces this month.

“I think there’s more work for us to do to get the word out,” he said.

Rossi received a certificate for a Five Touch Spa & Salon massage for his winning selfie and a treat box from Cupcake Dream for his Shades of Pink photo.

Hayle Rarick won the Support Squad category with a cheerful chemo lab image complete with a pink confetti drop and earned a cake and ice cream party from Cupcake Dream.

Emily Isbell won the Pink Paws category with a portrait of a well-coiffed pooch wearing a large pink ribbon and flower. Isbell will receive grooming services from D-tails Pet Spa and Grooming by Patty.

Voting in the Think Pink photo contest ran from midnight Oct. 13 and ended at 5 p.m. Oct. 20 on WilsonTimes.com.

For information about 2-D and 3-D mammography, call the Wilson Outpatient Imaging Center at 252-399-8900.