WEST HARTFORD — While cancer is usually a somber subject, breast cancer survivors and their supporters celebrated together at the third annual Pink Party Thursday.
"To come out here and see everybody happy, it's seeing it in a different light," said Ella Smith of Bristol.
Smith has attended the Pink Party each year with her friend Cindy Michaud. Both women are mammographers and said they often see women at their most vulnerable, which can be difficult, and the Pink Party is a welcome chance to let loose and be joyful.
"It gives you the goosebumps, it's an awesome event," Michaud said.
Michaud, of West Hartford, lost her mother, grandmother and aunt to breast cancer, and said she became a mammographer "to reach out and help people," and honor her family members' memories.
Niamey Wilson, a doctor and co-director of the comprehensive breast health center at St. Francis Hospital, said the Pink Party is "definitely a party with a purpose."
She said that annually, 3,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Connecticut and 230,000 women are diagnosed across the country.
"You have the power to help reduce your risk of breast cancer" by getting annual breast exams starting at age 25 and annual mammograms starting at age 40, Wilson said.
Meg Staubley, event coordinator with the Farmington branch of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer, said the Pink Party kicked off October's Breast Cancer Awareness month locally.
Held in Blue Back Square, the event included music by Shaded Soul, a fashion show featuring 28 breast cancer survivors, and more than 40 vendors who donated food, services, and gift bags to raise funds for the Komen foundation.
Despite being rained out Wednesday and postponed, Staubley said Thursday's Pink Party was expected to attract around 3,000 people and raise about $40,000 for research and awareness programs.
"The support is truly overwhelming and we're so grateful," Staubley said.