Behind the Mask: Krewe of Vixens shatter silence surrounding ovarian cancer
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
Tricia Purdy-Willbourn is showing Laura Baker the Mardi Gras ropes.
"It will be fun to be on the other side, inside the float. I don't even know what to expect," Baker laughed.
A year ago, Baker wasn't quite so lighthearted.
She explained, "I had gone in to have a preventative hysterectomy. When they went in to do that, they discovered that I had an advanced Stage 3C ovarian cancer on both ovaries."
Ovarian cancer runs in Baker’s family. She had already beat breast cancer; her worst fear was coming true.
"It's usually something that doesn't end well for most people," sighed Baker.
A friend’s mother did not survive ovarian cancer, Purdy-Willbourn was angry she didn't know much about the disease.
She said, "You don't hear anything about it. Nobody talks about it and they call it the silent killer because it's not easily detected."
Purdy-Willbourn decided to shatter the silence by founding the Krewe of Vixens. They're pirate princesses who dress in teal, the color of the ovarian cancer awareness ribbon. They're an all-female krewe that has raised tens of thousands of dollars since 2013 to help local ovarian cancer patients. They've also sent a lot of money to fund national research efforts.
Baker was asked to join soon after her diagnosis. The sisterhood closed ranks.
She grinned, "They were really great to me the whole time during my treatment and when I was recovering."
In August of 2017, Baker was well enough to take part in the krewe’s 5k run for ovarian cancer awareness. She walked about a mile of it, surrounded by friends.
She expanded, "It was kinda a defining thing, like, I'm done, it's over."
Finally, it's time for just fun and festivity. This Mardi Gras season is her "something to look forward to."
Laura can't wait to ride a float as a full-fledged Vixen and as breast and ovarian cancer survivor.
"It's not something a lot of people get to say, " she smiled gratefully.