News

They bare to care

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

For the second year in a row, Barbara Purdom has bared her soul –– literally –– to help women following in her footsteps overcome physical and emotional battles with breast cancer.

Purdom and 11 other cancer survivors posed for nude photographs for a fund-raising calendar. Proceeds from selling the calendars will benefit Angel Care, a non-profit group whose volunteers include the amateur models.

Wearing only angel wings but with their bodies mostly obscured by props, the women are trying to project positive images so that current and future breast cancer sufferers can see there is life after the illness.

“If you’ve gone through breast cancer –– the biopsies, the treatment –– this (posing naked) is a piece of cake,” said Jan Harris, executive director of Redmond-based Angel Care. “Don’t worry about maybe missing a breast. Get out and enjoy life. That’s what we want women to go away with.”

Purdom, who lives in Federal Way and was a school teacher in Kent and Yakima before retiring, has been cancer-free the last three years after enduring chemotherapy, radiation “and all that good stuff. I’ve been healthy ever since,” she said.

She’s Ms. July in the calendar, smiling from behind a motorcycle and two small American flags. Although a calendar veteran, Purdom said baring all is “a little scary when you put yourself out there like that. But it’s kind of a hoot, really. People tell me I’m so brave to do it. I tell them (fighting) breast cancer is brave –– the calendar is just for fun.”

Angel Care, whose volunteers provide free emotional support for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, gained national exposure in 2003 when CBS did a television news report on that year’s calendar.

Purdom said helping women find hope at a stressful time of their lives is rewarding. “I’ve gotten so much more than I’ve given,” such as the time she mentored an 85-year-old (now 86) who had no relatives nearby, Purdom related.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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