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Community shows support for cancer at Chocolate Affaire fundraiser

This Valentine’s Day, every person in the Cornucopia Cancer Support Center’s annual fundraiser closed their eyes and remained silent as Amy Collinsworth, terminal cancer patient and participant at Cornucopia, reminded them of how short life can be.

“Life can change in an instant. It’s cliche, but it’s true,” Collinsworth said, speaking about the moment she was diagnosed with a brain tumor a year and a half ago. 

Collinsworth, a single-by-choice mother with two young children, is a beneficiary of the services the Cornucopia Center offers.

On Feb. 14, the 16th annual Chocolate Affaire fundraiser for the Cornucopia Cancer Support Center was held at the Sheraton Chapel Hill Hotel. The center offers free support and services to cancer patients and their families throughout their entire journey with the disease. These services include yoga, massage, acupuncture and energy work.

“These things aren’t luxuries. I just want to emphasize that they’re therapies that really make life better for you,” Collinsworth said. “If I have one fewer headache, that’s one more dinner I can eat with my kids. Every single day counts.”

Many people who have benefited from the Cornucopia Center have become volunteers, including staff at the center.

Maxine Turner Fitts was a participant and a volunteer at Cornucopia before she was hired as head of programs and operations. She now works elsewhere but came back to head operations for the fundraiser. 

“A gentleman who passed away named Clark came in one day because he just wanted a hug, and he knew he could get a hug here,” Fitts said about the support system at Cornucopia.

Glenna Maynus, a former participant at Cornucopia and current massage therapist at the Cornucopia Center, said it is a unique treatment center. 

“Cornucopia supports the rest of the person,” Maynus said. “All treatment should treat the person as a whole person — not just the disease."

The fundraiser brought in more than 300 people and thousands of dollars from donations, a raffle and a mix of a silent and live auction.

Members of the Durham-Chapel Hill community, including UNC men's basketball head coach Roy Williams, rallied to donate food and prizes to the event.

Williams donated a personal tour of basketball operations, a signed basketball and a private lunch with himself.

Auction winner and UNC graduate Melinda Edwards said she was excited to win the lunch with Williams.

Edwards' mom is a two-time cancer survivor, who was invited to attend the event by friends with personal experience with the Cornucopia Cancer Support Center.

"Someone kept telling me that Cornucopia would be a place for you to be," Fitts said.

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