Saturday, June 14, 2014

Susan G. Komen's "Tickled Pink"

Why breast cancer awareness?

This is probably the most difficult subject I will ever talk about. It is every single time, and I am sure it will never get any easier. Breast cancer took the lives of my aunts Aline and Joy, and my Granny Sue is a 5 year breast cancer survivor. I have seen first hand what this disease does to a woman's body and spirit, and what it is like to be a loved one watching those you care about the most in the world have to endure it. I promised my Aunt Joy in October 2013 in her last days that I would share her message of her fight against breast cancer. It was our dream together that this horrible disease would be a thing of the past and pink ribbons would only be used for hair bows. I truly feel like every time I speak to an audience that I've made a difference, and that I've honored my promises to her. That alone is such a heartwarming and fulfilling feeling.

The biggest honor I have ever received was being invited to be the guest speaker and entertainer for the 2014 Susan G. Komen's "Tickled Pink" luncheon as Miss White River. There were well over 500 people in attendance celebrating our local survivors and receiving the grants from funds raised through the Texarkana Komen chapter. Tears still come to my eyes as I think of all the beautiful women standing up on stage exclaiming that they had fought the battle and won! I love every opportunity I have to speak about my family's stories, but because many of those in attendance know my family personally, it was especially touching to us all. I'd like to share my speech in hopes that you can see this is more than a pageant platform to me. It is my dream to spread this message across my great state as Miss Arkansas 2014, but is important to me that everyone knows that win, lose, or draw this is a lifetime mission for me, and I will not stop fighting.

 Donna Harrison- a breast cancer survivor and committee member for Susan G. Komen

Terri Arnold- Susan G. Komen Executive Director

 Sue Johnson- my Granny Sue! She is a five year breast cancer survivor and was one of the models!

 I performed Martina McBride's "I'm Gonna Love You Through It'

 Speaking on stage to over 500 people

 Experiencing this incredible honor with my Granny Sue is a priceless memory! 

 Jean Ham- a good friend and breast cancer survivor

My precious Nana and Pawpaw- two of my biggest fans!

My sweet friends with ALT Magazine- Debbie Brower, Jaclyn Gooding, Lindsey Gordon, and Charlie McMurphy 

"Thank you so much for this incredible honor. I am so excited to be here today! I have been involved with Susan G. Komen Texarkana since I was 13 years old volunteering at the race and singing for the survivors. This year I have enjoyed speaking and entertaining at many events including the High Tea at CHRISTUS St. Michael’s as well as the Women’s Breast Health Exhibition, but I have to tell you Tickled Pink will be the highlight of my year!!

I love that I get to be here with my Granny Sue Johnson. I have always looked up to her. She’s one of the most kind-hearted, hard working people I know. She is also a big reason why I chose to go into nursing school.  Granny Sue is here today celebrating 5 years of being cancer free! She will also be modeling and strutting her stuff! Getting to share this experience with her is so very special to me.
So thank you for having me here today!

I am Miss White River and I will be vying for the title of Miss Arkansas this summer, and hopefully Miss America in September. Part of competing in the Miss America system includes picking a platform or critical issue to promote in your community that is important to you. My platform is “Think Pink: Breast Cancer…You’re Never Too Young”. I speak to women and men in the community about the importance of being aware of breast cancer and the importance of being an advocate for your own body, dispelling the myths that cancer only affects women over the age of 40. I also enjoy promoting my program “Oh the things you can do that are good for you” that I present to elementary school students focusing on the importance of forming healthy eating and exercise habits to better prevent against chronic diseases including breast cancer.

Today, that is not what I want to speak to you about. I don’t want to rattle off statistics, that I’m sure many of you have heard before. I want to tell you why this is more than platform. Why it’s my passion. Why I care.  I’m going to tell you my family’s story.

I first heard the term “breast cancer” at the tender age of six. My aunt Aline was diagnosed in 1996. She had noticed a bruise on her breast and felt that she looked a little yellow, but decided to wait until after her family vacation to go to the doctor. When Aline spoke to her physician, she got the news that she had breast cancer and it was quite advanced. Despite chemo and radiation, in less than a year, on May 28, 1997, my Aunt Aline passed. I didn’t go to her funeral. My grandmother didn’t want me to go through that. I didn’t know what to do. My mom and I called her house over and over just to hear her voice on the answering machine.  We were all left with a lot of “what ifs”. What if she had gone to the doctor sooner, what if she had been more aware of breast cancer, would that have changed anything? We’ll never know.

Several years later in 2004 my aunt Joy went for her mammogram. She just felt that something wasn’t right. Her physician told her “It’s nothing to worry about. It’s just mastitis, you’re fine.” Well Joy wasn’t happy with that answer. She understood she knew her own body better than anyone else. With that conviction, she went and got a second opinion. That is when she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. This specific type of cancer is the most severe as well as the hardest to detect. From the beginning, my aunt Joy and her team of doctors at Texas Oncology at Baylor fought back with everything they had. She did countless rounds of chemo and radiation. Anything they told her to do, she did.

Some of you may have known Joy. She was very fixy. There’s not a day in my life that I ever saw her not dressed to the T. Her makeup was flawless, her hair was perfect- she slept at just the right angle with her face down in the pillow so she could breathe, but not rustle a hair out of place! And she had the best style of anyone I’ve ever met. I bet she paid for both Gayle’s and Skybelles!....But I saw cancer take her hair, her eyelashes, her eyebrows, and when her doctor said it was best, both of her breasts. As I woman I can’t imagine the turmoil that put her through, but she did it.

And treatment was successful! We were all so happy for Joy!! She fought and she won!!! After that she participated in Race for the Cure and told many people her story.  She showed me the scars on her chest telling me she “didn’t need those old things anyway.” One year, she was the New Balance Survivor. This just so happened to be the year that the train blew up and the race was cancelled downtown. She was so upset!! We laughed and laughed saying she never got her moment in the spotlight!!

At this point, as a family, we truly felt like we had it all figured out. Joy was an advocate for her body. She didn’t accept just one doctor’s answer. She researched and made sure for herself. She did everything right and by the book. Maybe if my Aunt Aline had done the same thing things would’ve been different.

Joy went back to Baylor year after year and kept getting a great report…until 7 years later in 2011, they gave Joy the devastating news that the cancer was back. Not only back, but back in her liver. We couldn’t believe it. They say after 7 years in remission, you should be in the clear. Why did this happen?! What did she not do?! She did everything!!
While we were mad at the world for being unfair, Joy picked up her pink boxing gloves and got ready to fight again. Once again we watched her go through the pain of chemotherapy. But we all just knew she was going to make it!! She beat it once and she would beat it again!! She seemed to be doing great. She was the same witty, fun, beautiful aunt Joy.

Looking back, it seems like time flew in a blink of an eye. She gave it everything she had, but on July 11th, 2013 Joy was put on hospice. It didn’t seam real. She didn’t look like what I thought a typical hospice patient should look like. They were wrong. She was going to come out of it. But as the weeks progressed, Joy changed. Used to you could say three little words, “let’s go shopping”, and she’d be out of the house and in Dillard’s before you could get your shoes on. But she no longer wanted to leave the house. The cancer drained her. She was physically and emotionally exhausted.

At the end of September, we were told it was almost time. We all went to visit her and would sit around her bed and talk and laugh. I know she loved it. My whole big crazy family there.  Those are some of my favorite memories and she loved everyone being together.

The hospice nurses would come by and tell us it would only be a couple of hours and we would all cry and say our goodbyes, then all of a sudden, Joy would pull through for a couple of more days. This happened a couple of times. If you knew Joy, this was typical. She did things on her own time and in her own way.  But as much as we all hoped and prayed it wouldn’t, Joy left us the night of October 6, 2013.
From that second on, the world just hasn’t felt the same. To put it simply, there’s just not as much Joy.

I know people meant it in the most supporting way by saying “at least she’s not suffering anymore. She’s in a better place.” But to be honest, I hated that response. Joy did not want to leave!! She told us she wasn’t ready. When my great-grandmother was getting ready to die, she started sending everything home with us from the nursing home. When she sent her Bible home, we knew she was ready. Joy was not given this luxury!! Joy was taken from all who love her!! Cancer robbed her of everything!! She did everything right!! She was in remission for 7 years why did this happen?!  But that’s when I had to stop and think

THIS IS NOT JOY’S LEGACY. THE CANCER DID NOT WIN. When Joy was first diagnosed in 2004, she survived because she was an advocate for her own body. She knew that she knew her body better than anyone, and got the second opinion.  She trusted her doctors and put on her pink boxing gloves and did anything they told her to do. I remember asking her during treatment, “how do you keep doing this?” She responded with “You just do what you gotta do”. She went out and lived her life and enjoyed it to the fullest. She refused to let this disease define her or keep her down.

It took time for me to realize that Joy did not lose. It is because she fought and BEAT cancer we had those seven precious years. In those seven years she saw her youngest grandson, little Gary, come into the world. Joy spent extra years with her husband, kids, and grandkids. We all got 7 years of holidays that we wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. And for that, I am grateful. I know many families whose loved ones have been one of breast cancer’s many victims cannot say the same thing. I wish I had seven more years with Aline.

I have seen how much progress the medical community has made thanks to breast cancer awareness and research in only the last 18 years since my Aunt Aline was diagnosed. We have gotten so much better at detecting and treating breast cancer, and men and women in our community are much more aware!! I just know Aline’s story would’ve ended differently if she had been diagnosed today. I have seen with my own eyes the difference the money raised has made and where the research has taken us!!

One afternoon it finally clicked. This is Joy’s message: DO NOT GIVE UP. Know your body and be aware! Share your story and make your mark on the world. Realize the progress we have made in fighting breast cancer and be a part of the movement to continue in that progress. Live you life to the fullest, and always put on those pink boxing gloves and fight. But most of all, don’t let the cancer fool you. WE ARE WINNING!!!

It is time for a cure!! And I believe whole heartedly we are almost there. I’m ready for the day when not another soul has to suffer- not a patient, not a family member, due to breast cancer. But until that day comes, I will keep my promise I made to my Aunt Joy. I will continue to share her story. I will continue to fight for a cure. I will keep on keeping on until breast cancer is just a thing of the past and Pink ribbons go back to being used for hair bows.

I appreciate you all being here today to Tickled Pink!! I love you all. "

I hope you enjoyed my speech!! As always, thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Long time, no see

Hey everyone! I hate that I've been MIA lately, but luckily that's about to change!! I've been incredibly busy with finishing my first year of nursing school (all As and Bs...WOO HOO!!!), preparing my students for dance recital, teaching swimming lessons, making appearances as Miss White River, and preparing for Miss Arkansas! Fortunately, sleep and I have reunited once again, and I will have a little more time to write about what I've been up to lately plus a few thoughts I toss around in my head!

One thing is for certain...I, Klancy Diane Johnson, truly appreciate the value of a dollar. I have had a job since I was 14 years old. I have been a waitress, hostess, office assistant, nanny, dog sitter, swimming instructor, maid, and pageant consultant- just to name a few!! During the school year, while also going to nursing school full time, I worked part time as a graduate dance instructor. Since the summer has started I've begun teaching group and private swimming lessons for the sixth summer and next week I will start back babysitting two adorable kiddos for the fifth summer. Even though sometimes I envision what it may be like to get to veg out and watch Netflix all day, I wouldn't have it any other way. The life experiences I've gained in the many years I've been in the workforce are priceless.

I am goal driven and an extremely hard worker. I am organized and can juggle a busy schedule. I make out a budget for each month to ensure I can pay my bills and maybe have a little to put in my savings account. (To be honest, my bank account has had as low as $0.23 before. #thestrugglebus)
I also know how to make sacrifices for what I need and want. I've worked extra hours to pay for what sponsors didn't cover for my expenses for Miss Arkansas. I know how to stretch the dollar and make every penny count.

That being said, I have a great appreciation for those who donate money as well as various services and goods to the Miss Arkansas Organization. I know how hard they had to work for that money, and how much they must believe in me as a contestant to invest in my future and want to be a part of helping me further my education. As Miss Arkansas I would work hard to ensure our current sponsors know how appreciated they are, as well as increase the number of sponsors we had. Without the help of so many, the Miss America Organization would not be here today. As a titleholder I view my position as a real job, and look at things from a business stand point. I want to see this scholarship organization continue to grow and provide thousands of dollars to women across the state. My first year of nursing school was completely paid for using the scholarship money I won through the Miss Arkansas Organization, and I will forever be grateful!

I would like to end this post by saying a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has bought a ticket to go to Hot Springs and support me in a couple of weeks! I cannot adequately put into words how much that means to me!! If you have not ordered your tickets but would like to go, the pageant is Wednesday June 18- Saturday June 21. I am in group C, so I will be competing in swimsuit on Wednesday, evening gown on Thursday, talent on Friday, and finals are on Saturday night. You can go to ticketmaster and purchase tickets for individual nights or buy a season ticket to attend all 3 preliminary nights plus final night on Saturday! If you are a member of a cheer squad, you get in free on Wednesday and Thursday! All you have to do is wear your uniform! If you are in a fraternity, sorority, or social club you can get in free Friday night and Saturday night as long as you're wearing your letters (t-shirt, button, etc)! I hope to see you all there!!

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Who Doesn't Love a Cute T-Shirt?!

I love cute T-shirts. Even though I'm a pageant girl and I love to dress up, when I'm just out and about running errands I'm usually wearing a cute t-shirt from a random event I was part of, Nike shorts, and tennis shoes. #typicalcollegegirl I know. So as a fundraiser, I decided to design my very own cute T-shirt based on my breast cancer awareness platform!

The shirt is pink with aqua blue writing. It says "Think Pink: Breast Cancer You're Never Too Young" By the ribbon with the crown on it, it says "Klancy Johnson Miss White River".  Don't you love it?! I do!! The best part?! They're only $20!!

Your $20 will help pay my contribution to Children's Miracle Network, as well as support me as I vie for the title of Miss Arkansas in June!! Plus, if you plan on going to the Miss Arkansas Pageant (Wednesday June 18- Saturday June 21) my friends and family are all planning a night to wear their pink breast cancer awareness t-shirts! I can't tell you how much it would mean to me to look out and see sea of pink from stage!!

If my oh-so-witty sales pitch has convinced you to buy this lovely t-shirt for a more than worthy cause, you can buy one by either contacting me personally, or going to my Miss Twin Cities website and buying a t-shirt using PayPal and I'll ship it to you!!

Thank you and I appreciate your support!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The first annual Miss Twin Cities Pageant!

Some of my best childhood memories are competing in the local little miss pageants. I started singing on stage when I was six years old, and I originally started competing because it was an opportunity to sing on stage. After the first pageant, I came off stage exclaiming that was the most fun I have ever had, and the rest is history!
The Miss America System is an amazing organization that gives young women the tools to be the epitome of the modern woman. Titleholders are stylish, smart, talented, caring, and aware of what is going on in the world. Most of all, the Miss America Organization encourages young women to get out in their communities and volunteer their time to a variety worthy causes.
I meet several young girls who tell me they want to hold a title be active in our community, without being required to go and compete at the state level. I don't think there's a thing in the world wrong with that, and I wanted to be the one to give them that opportunity!
So as a fundraiser for Miss Arkansas, I decided to hold the first annual Miss Twin Cities Pageant! Any girl ages zero and up could compete in the beauty portion and optional talent portion. Sunday April 13 we crowned our winners!

Miss Talent Winner Sarah Barakat, Junior Miss Twin Cities and Junior Miss Talent Winner Olivia George, Baby Miss Twin Cities Makinlie Ashford, Klancy Johnson Miss White River, Ashley Marx Miss Twin Cities, Little Miss Twin Cities Mollie Kate Browning, Miss Teen Twin Cities Isabelle Robertson, and Teen Talent Winner Tori Grace Wilson

I can't wait to start working with these girls and get them out and about serving our community!! They're stunning inside and out!!

I had the vision, but it took a lot of work to make it a reality. I am so fortunate that my community embraced me in this effort and helped me make the pageant a huge success!! A huge thank you goes to:

  • Diana and Josh Morriss at the Silvermoon on Broad. This is one of the most beautiful and historic venues in Texarkana. 
  • Sticks and Stones for donating gorgeous bouquets to each of our winners.
  • Traditions Formal and Bridal for donating two crowns to our winners.
  • April Graves of Images by April for donating mini photo sessions to each of our photogenic winners.
  • SMART Productions for donating one free hour of studio time to each of our talent winners.
  • Debbie Brower of ALT Magazine for setting up our Miss Twin Cities website and advertising in ALT Magazine
  • Poff Communications and Pageant Consultant for donating coaching sessions to both Miss Teen Twin Cities and Miss Twin Cities
  • All of the many people who volunteered their Sunday afternoon to make this day run smoothly-  my wonderful family, Frank Poff, Sue Tyler, Cindy Peterson, Shawn Edmonds, Kristie Dempsey, and Debbie Brower.
  • My beautiful Diamond State Princesses who helped me pass out awards: Eva Kathryn Johnson, Emma McMillen, and Julianne Naples
  • All of the parents and the beautiful contestants. Thank you for your hard work and your support!!
Karen Johnson, Josh Morriss, Diana Morriss (who we "crowned" for all of her hard work!), Klancy Johnson Miss White River, Debbie Brower, Frank Poff (who was also our excellent emcee for the afternoon), and Kristie Dempsey (our auditor)

I can tell you, I knew this would be a lot of hard work, but there is nothing like experiencing it. I have such a huge respect for the Miss Arkansas Organization!! I don't know how they keep up with 46 contestants!! I am in awe of each and every one of you that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make our Miss Arkansas experience so special!! 

This was AWESOME for my first rodeo on the other side, and I can't wait to continue this tradition. May this be the first of many Miss Twin Cities pageant to come! 

Thanks again for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thank you, thank you very much!

Did you say the title of the post in your best Elvis voice? Good! He's my favorite!

I think THE most important thing a titleholder can say is "thank you". The wheels of this wonderful organization would stop turning if our generous sponsors did not continue to support us. I am an extremely lucky girl! I have so many people in my life who have donated their time, talents, and money to making me the best Miss White River and Klancy I can be.

First off, I would like to thank Debbie Brower with Image Forward Texarkana for sponsoring my head shots for Miss Arkansas! I LOVE them! I was Debbie's first client when she started her photography business in 2005 in her dining room. And you see that gorgeous dress I am wearing? That is only one of the dresses she has given me! I have enjoyed getting to know her and her amazing family over the years and I love them all to pieces! I can't tell you how much she has done for me. Debbie has a heart of pure gold and I am just one of the many people she has helped pursue their dreams! Thank you!! I love you to the moon and back!!

I would also like to thank Laine Berry at the Royal We. With her sponsorship, and her impeccable style, I was able to find the perfect wardrobe for Miss Arkansas this summer!! Let's just say I will be "married and buried" in this one ;)

A huge shout out to Dr. and Susan Whitten at the Beauty and Wellness Center in Texarkana for helping me look and feel beautiful!! Their skin care regimen is unlike any other! There was an emergency last year where I literally burnt a few layers of my lip off (waxing accident....embarrassing doesn't even begin to describe it). I just knew I was going to have a mustache-like scar. Thanks to their various treatments, you would never know anything happened! I am eternally grateful!!

Girls love hot cars. And what's better than one hot car? TWO! Thank you to Frank Poff, for not only letting me ride in your Porsche and Camaro, but for always offering your advice on politics and public speaking. It's hard to believe how far I've come from that terrified 13 year old. You are also always willing to do anything and everything to help! You're a man of many hats and talents, and I appreciate all that you continue you to do for me!!

I. LOVE. FOOD. All food. I do not discriminate. Unfortunately, food does not love me. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to eat healthy and work out hard on a daily basis. Luckily, I have someone who makes sure I stay right on track. Mitchell Beasley has been there every step of the way guiding me in my fitness journey. This is not an easy task believe me. But he works his magic and dedicates hours upon hours of his time to make me look good! Thanks to Mitchell, I won preliminary lifestyle in fitness in swimsuit last year at Miss Arkansas and we're working to make it two years in a row!

I do not know where I would be without Karmyn Tyler!! She has been my vocal coach since I was 6 years old. She continues to push me to new levels vocally and works with me to achieve every goal! I have done things I never thought I could do with her coaching. There is no one out there I trust more!! She has been so generous to donate her time to work with me this year!! I can't wait to strut my stuff during talent at Miss Arkansas this summer!

These are just a few of the MANY sponsors that are making my journey to Miss Arkansas as Miss White River possible!! I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Christus St. Michael Health System Foundation Gala

On February 7, I attended the  Christus St. Michael Health System Foundation Gala. I have gotten to attend a few special events already this year, but one of the things that made this so special is I got to accompany my grandparents to this event. My Granny Sue (Sue Johnson) has been an employee at the hospital for 40 years. She is currently part of the administration, but started out as a nurse. Her influence has greatly encouraged me to follow in her footsteps! My Papaw (Steve Johnson) was the lucky man who escorted us for the evening! 
When we arrived at the gala, I enjoyed getting to chat with (HOPEFULLY!) my future employers! :) And later on in the program, I was happy to help show off the live auction items. This event raised several thousands of dollars, the proceeds of which will go to assist with services and programs of Christus St. Michael Health System. The highlight of my night was the performance!! I am a huge country music fan, so you can imagine how star struck I was seeing the award winning artist Neal McCoy perform!! If you don't recognize him, check out his hit "The Shake"
I had a lot of fun with two people that I love very much!! It's a tough life, but somebody's gotta do it right? 

Me, with my wonderful grandparents
Neal McCoy!  I was really this close!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Phantom Ball 2014

On January 25, I attended the 11th Annual Phantom Ball in Texarkana. This event is a fundraiser that helps Temple Memorial Rehabilitation Center raise funds for children with disabilities. I helped with the live auction, plus had a great time enjoying the food, dancing, and company! There was also a silent auction. The 5 items I was able to get donated were successfully auctioned off, and I went home with a couple of items myself!! The night was a huge success!!
Each year a child is chosen as Temple Memorial Rehabilitation Center kid of the year. This year, precious Chloe was chosen! She has been a part of Temple since she was only a few months old. I enjoyed hearing her parent's testimony of how much of a difference the therapists at Temple have made in Chloe's life, helping her achieve goals many doctor's thought would never be possible. If you missed the Phantom Ball this year, make sure to attend next January! Tons of fun for a great cause!!

Chloe and I 

My friend Kristie, me, and my mom 

Kristie and I with Frank, a previous Phantom (The criteria for "Phantom" is one who gives generously of their time and financial support to the Temple Center and the community of Texarkana. The Phantom hosts the ball.)

Mallori (Miss DFW's Outstanding Teen) and I with the lead singer of Vintage 15, the awesome live band!! 

And here's a flashback for you!! When I was Miss Teen Texarkana 2005, The Phantom Ball was my very first appearance!! I was only 13. 

As always, thanks for stopping by!!