LAGRANGE, Ga. – One woman passing through our area is turning heads in her unorthodox approach at spreading awareness of a deadly and devastating disease. Paulette Leaphart is determined to make a difference after her devastating diagnosis of breast cancer that required a double mastectomy in 2014. She’s walking to Washington, D.C. from Biloxi, Mississippi, shirtless. Leaphart is unashamed in showing her scars because she wants women to understand that their femininity is not tied to their breasts.
Leaphart told News 3, “I’ve had family members write to me and say, ‘I wish my sister was still here. She committed suicide because she couldn’t live with scars and not [having] her breasts.”
Leaphart does not want to see another woman suffer silently, feeling shame over a deadly disease she cannot control.
“I need women to understand . . . that this right here (pointing to her chest) could go in the blink of an eye. But what’s on the inside, (pointing to her heart) that’s beauty. And that’s what this walk is about,” Leaphart said.
For Leaphart, walking to raise awareness means also getting the attention of lawmakers and healthcare providers. That’s why she’s headed to Washington, D.C. While battling breast cancer, she lost everything she owned to pay for her treatments.
“And that shouldn’t be, not in this country. So I’m putting the scars on the steps of Congress. And I’m telling them ‘Shame on you!” Leaphart stated passionately.
As for why she came through LaGrange, Leaphart wanted to meet the family of a friend she made on social media. That friend was also battling cancer, but, unfortunately, passed away recently.
“Raven is now with God. I just needed to come here to hug her mom,” Leaphart said.
June 27 is a special day for Leaphart. Not only will she celebrate her 50th birthday, but it’s also the day she plans to arrive in Washington, D.C. Though she admits her approach to raising awareness is unconventional, Leaphart says so far she has found people along her path highly supportive of her decision to go shirtless. Leaphart said that going shirtless is important to her, and she feels that God inspired her to make this walk. She believes that one day soon, a cure for cancer will be discovered.