Purses and Pearls, Holiday Fun with a Purpose

Bismarck veterinarian Daphne Hall’s smile radiates joy and encouragement. People gravitate to her message of hope, much the same way the pets she cares for find comfort with her reassuring presence. Her story of survival against seemingly insurmountable odds inspires other cancer survivors. “I want to do everything I can to help others who are dealing with this disease,” said Daphne, a soon-to-be five-year ovarian cancer survivor.

Daphne will share her uplifting message of hope and faith during Purses and Pearls, scheduled for December 8, 2016, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., at the New York, New York Room at the Radisson Hotel, Bismarck.

The glitzy and fun Purses and Pearls celebrates the holiday season with food, dessert, a cash bar, prize drawings and the dazzling silent auction of new, designer, and vintage purses along with jewelry, accessories, and gift packages. Tickets benefit the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and are available for $35 at 701-250-1022 or online at: www.acscan.org/ndpursesandpearls. Tickets at the door will be $40. Complimentary parking will be available at the Radisson parking ramp.

“Bismarck area businesses and our supporters are making a difference in the fight against cancer, donating gifts for our silent auction and swag bag items for both men and women,” said Deb Knuth, North Dakota Government Relations Director for ACS CAN. “Our event offers the perfect opportunity to find holiday gifts for others or yourself.”

Purses and Pearls, now in its eighth year, brings together the community to celebrate those who have survived the disease, encourage people undergoing treatment, and raise awareness about how to reduce the burden of cancer with changes to public policy. Area businesses and individuals are welcome to donate items for the silent auction.

ACS CAN offers people like Daphne the ability to become advocates for funding for cancer research and improving access to cancer prevention and screening. “Ovarian cancer is one area where more research is needed. There isn’t a good screening process right now,” Daphne shares. “I will do whatever I can do to change that by sharing my story.”

The Pinehurst Veterinary Hospital doctor never suspected cancer when she began to suffer pelvic pain in the fall of 2011. She attributed it to being out of shape, especially after long hours sandbagging in preparation for Missouri River flooding. In December 2011, at her annual checkup, her doctor found a mass she worried could be ovarian cancer, an insidious disease with symptoms often mistaken for other abdominal illnesses. The physician referred Daphne to a gynecological oncologist in Minneapolis.

It was late in the day in January 2012 when Daphne was scheduled for what the gynecological oncologist anticipated would be a 45-minute surgery to remove a cyst. It wasn’t until six hours later that surgery was complete. “My poor husband (Marcus) was beside himself,” Daphne recalled. “And it was at that time we first heard that I had cancer.”

Fortunately, the doctor removed all the cancer, but informed them her five year survival rate for the type and stage of disease she had was only 20 percent. Daphne and Marcus were not discouraged. “We can beat that,” they said. After all, Daphne has beaten the odds–and expectations–since deciding to enter a once-male-dominated and the competitive field of veterinary medicine.

Daphne fought back by undergoing a rigorous treatment that required six rounds of chemotherapy through both intravenous and intraperitoneal methods. Marcus called the latter method “Shake and Bake” or “the Barbeque Roll.” Daphne laid for several hours during each infusion and rotated every 15 minutes to ensure the drug was dispersed throughout her abdomen.

Because of the length of her stay during her initial treatments in Minneapolis, Daphne was referred to the Richard M. Schulze Family American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, which offers private rooms for guests and their caregivers. It became a “home away from home” that is equipped with a community room, kitchen, family room and library.

“It was a wonderful, nurturing environment,” Daphne said. “It was so beneficial to my recovery.” Also indispensable was a strong network of family and friends. “I had this huge community of prayer warriors,” said Daphne, who is forever grateful for their support.

The Minneapolis team also practiced palliative care, a standard of care that ACS CAN is advancing on the local and national levels. Palliative care is a team approach by health care workers to alleviate the symptoms caused by a serious illness, such as cancer, to help patients feel more comfortable and improve their quality of life. Daphne’s diverse team included nurses, doctors, nutritionists and pharmacists.

Daphne encourages others to be an advocate for their health, to find support from other survivors, to ask for resources to address cancer’s multi-faceted systems. “Don’t feel alone,” she tells other cancer survivors. There are many more people who are experiencing cancer, who can share their journey.

Daphne’s cancer survivorship has presented her with an opportunity she has no intention on squandering. She is empowering others dealing with cancer through her advocacy work, sharing her journey and message of hope.

As Daphne said “I have a lot of fight left in me.”

Note: For more information, or if you would like to help, contact Kimberly Kuhlmann at 701.250.1022. Contributions or gifts to ACS CAN are not tax deductible.