EQC Ballroom hosts evening to honor cancer survivors Tarry Lee Jack, mother of Puyallup tribal member Cyrus Kallappa, made honorary princess

Cyrus Kallappa (with microphone) speaks of his dear mother Tarry, who passed away from breast cancer. Photo courtesy of Cyrus Kallappa

The Emerald Queen Casino Ballroom and Conference Center hosted the seventh annual Washington Living Pink Pageant on May 12, and Puyallup Tribal member Cyrus Kallappa received a sweet surprise on this very special eve of Mother’s Day.

Presented by the non-profit LeCher Productions, the Living Pink Pageant is a night dedicated to women who have survived breast cancer – to celebrate life by honoring and pampering these women who have been through so much physical and emotional pain during their breast cancer battle. Contestants are all dolled up in fabulous make-up, hair and gowns and are made to feel as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. As LeCher Productions CEO Scott Allison (a.k.a. drag performer Vivian LeCher) says, it’s not about vanity or competition, it’s about regaining a feeling of wholeness and personal identity that is lost during the clinical process of chemo therapy, clinic visits, of doctors poking and prodding you, needles and bags of foreign fluids, and large, cold machines.

Vivian LeCher was hostess for the event, and the crowd loved her. For Vivian, breast cancer hits close to home, as her step-mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and has undergone a mastectomy. She started the Living Pink Pageant in 2011 in memory of her step-grandfather, who passed away from breast cancer. For Cyrus, it was a night to think of his dear mother Tarry Lee Jack, who passed away on Feb. 17, 2011 from breast cancer. Vivian LeCher was also feeling the spirit of Cyrus’ mom that night, as she knew Tarry and loved her too. So, what could be more perfect than to make Tarry an honorary Living Pink princess? And that’s just what happened. Calling Cyrus onto the stage, Vivian presented him with a sparkling crown fit for royalty and told the audience all about what a kind and remarkable woman Tarry was. To honor her further, Cyrus sung a moving rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven.”

“She will always remain in my heart, and I am sure that when I got up to sing ‘Tears In Heaven’ for her, she was looking down on me and had a big smile on her face or was looking down with tears flowing – either way, her love lives on in my heart always,” Cyrus said.

Vivian LeCher called it “such a touching moment. It wasn’t just for a stranger – it was for someone I knew. For now and forever she will be recognized in the pageant as a Living Pink angel.”

Cyrus was adopted as an infant, but his adoptive parents never tried to hide it – in fact, they encouraged Cyrus to keep contact with mom Tarry. About 20 years ago, he moved in with her and in 2009 she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When she lost her battle in 2011, it was the hardest day of my life,” Cyrus said.

With Cyrus that evening were three of his friends and loved ones, all Puyallup tribal members and cancer survivors: Charlene Matheson, Ronice Goforth and Kathy Lopez, who Cyrus calls Auntie. His care for Kathy during her cancer bout made a world of difference, as today she is cancer free.

“I took care of my mother while she healed up, and I took care of Kathy too,” Cyrus said. “Things happen for a reason, and this is proof – because I was there for Kathy, she healed and got well. She is a very strong lady. She still has some daily struggles, but I’m happy to say that she is cancer free. My heart and much love go out to all of those affected by cancer!”

For this year’s pageant, Marie Sinfield was crowned queen, and Megan White and Kim Wilmott were announced as princesses. The winners received jewelry, Mary Kay gift bags, glass-blown roses and Queen Marie was gifted a beautifully crafted Japanese floating glass ball and lots of jewelry. The pageant included a royal walk for past queens and princesses who have passed away, and family members were invited to walk the stage holding their loved one’s photo in remembrance.

Also in attendance was Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, who shared heartwarming words for the occasion. Vivian LeCher expressed much thanks to Mayor Woodards and the Puyallup Tribe for their hospitality and use of the grand ballroom, which was the perfect venue for such an elegant event.