Faith Larkan passed away three years ago after a nine-year battle with breast cancer. When she first felt a lump in her breast, she did not make an appointment with the doctor. Without insurance, she couldn’t afford a screening or subsequent treatment if the diagnosis was positive. She ignored the signs.
Her daughter and son-in-law, Bobbie and Dalles Perrin, believe if Faith would have made that appointment, she wouldn’t have fought a vicious battle with cancer that ended her life at the age of 56. Bobbie, Dalles, their two sons, DJ and Tyler, and Faith’s surviving husband, Roy, as well as other family embers and friends, are reminded of Faith’s battle every year at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Initially, the team was named Faith Walkers, but after Dalles covered himself head to toe in pink clown paint for the race, the team decided to reconsider its name, and that’s how nearly five years ago, the notorious Pink Man Group was formed. It was such a hit that day at the race that it’s surprising Dalles was able to run in a straight line after being bombarded with a blur of flashing cameras.
“It was all smiles,” Dalles recalls of his unveiling. “I love doing it. I feel like a rock star. People get such a kick out of it. They don’t know me from Adam, but they cheer for me.”
When Faith went through chemo, Dalles declared he would be the one to give her a cue-ball haircut like his. When Faith was ready, she called Dalles to her house and had her head shaved in front of a crowd of loved ones. “I got my clippers out and gave her the same haircut I keep,” Dalles describes. “She just laughed and smiled. She was a trooper.”
Dalles painted himself for Faith, not for fame, Bobbie says. He wanted to honor his mother-in-law, who was on the team before she passed away, in a way she could appreciate – and she did.
“He just did it for my mom. He did it to support her and she thought it was the neatest thing ever. We wanted to get out there and have fun. She was really sick at some points,” Bobbie pauses to catch her breath as the memory of her mother stifles her words, “And going out there with her, it was fun.”
The Pink Man Group missed the race in 2009 because Faith was sick in the hospital. Dalles says days turned into weeks as night after night family members slept in chairs next to Faith’s hospital bed and attempted to sleep in the waiting room. In 2010, when the team got together for the first time to race after Faith’s death, they were overwhelmed with emotion, yet hopeful for others suffering from breast cancer.
“That next race really made us aware of the anniversary of her passing,” Dalles utters. “We went through such a struggle with cancer and that’s what people should realize when they cancer: They should get a screening! If you let it go too long, it doesn’t just hurt you.”
Dalles thinks of his mother-in-law all year round, but when it comes around to race time, his mission is to have fun and bond with his family, as well as make everyone aware of the importance of breast health.
“If my mother-in-law had gotten a screening, we wouldn’t have had to go through the long battle she went through with cancer,” he says.
It’s always difficult for Bobbie when the race approaches. It is a reminder of how her mother is no longer a physical part of the team. Bobbie says everyone has a reason to be out there, whether it’s their mother, sister, a survivor or someone who succumbed to the disease, they rally together in a flood of pink for a purpose.
“For me, it’s kind of an emotional time,” Bobbie begins, pausing to compose herself. “I think it’s that way for a lot of people, too. I’m hoping that even though my mom didn’t make it, that maybe somebody else will. We didn’t want to give up. There’s too many women out there who are being affected by it.”
by Drew Belle Zerby
After graduating from LSU in 2009, Drew Belle worked as a page designer in north Louisiana until moving to Amarillo and joining AGN Media in late 2010. In her spare time, she loves to read, travel and spout out useless movie trivia.