Photography helps fight breast cancer

It's all about the big pink picture for photographer Karen Goforth of Kannapolis.

A couple of years ago, when an employee's sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, Goforth decided she wanted to make a difference by photographing local survivors.

Goforth, 49, founded Focused on a Cure, a nonprofit organization to create awareness for breast cancer and hope for its patients.

This Friday, Focused on a Cure will hold its largest fundraising event of the year, Piggin' Out for Pink, at the Historic Concord Hotel on Union Street. During the event, Goforth will reveal her 2011 exhibit documenting 15 local survivors. This year, the goal is to raise $30,000 from the event through ticket sales and a silent auction.

"Over the past two years, I have heard amazing stories of families and communities pulling together to fight breast cancer, and photographing these incredible women just made sense to me," said Goforth in a news release.

In 2009, Focused on a Cure gave $10,000 to CMC Northeast Breast Health Center. In 2010, they gave $21,000 to several different organizations in the area including Carolina Breast Friends and the Pink House. Goforth raises money through events like portrait fundraisers and Facebook parties. She also participates in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Goforth said the funds help women who can't afford mammograms or breast cancer treatments.

"A lot of these stories are so inspiring when you read them," she said. "It's moms and daughters and two sisters and they all have breast cancer. It's just so many people that are being diagnosed more than ever now."

Most of these patients didn't find out they had breast cancer through a routine mammogram. They discovered it from checking themselves and being aware of their bodies, she said.

"Our message is we got to take care of ourselves and make sure we are doing everything we can," said Goforth.

There are many women who have become stronger, more faithful and passionate, she said.

"I hope one day that Focused on a Cure goes on forever," said Goforth. "Once I retire or I'm not here, it'll continue because honestly it does give other survivors hope and a feeling of giving back. I think by telling their stories, they are telling other people, 'I made it, you can do this too.' There's hope.

"No matter who we are, we can all make a difference," she said. "I feel like we all have a special talent and we are here to use our talents to help others."

Goforth and her husband, Buddy, work together at Irresistible Portraits in Kannapolis and spend most of their time in the studio.

They live with their two dogs, Millie and Luke, in Kannapolis.