Fantasy Fest royalty talks about surviving the disease

While hanging out with a new boyfriend one evening five years ago, Mary-Lynne Price, 2014 Fantasy Fest Queen, got a “what’s that?” from him about a hard lump on her breast. With a long line of cancer running in her family, she immediately knew what it was. Fourteen months earlier, her mammogram was clean, but now showed a slow growing lump, which required four rounds of chemotherapy and a lumpectomy.

Her mother was diagnosed at 39 years old with breast cancer, Price had just turned 42. She came up clean in the BRAC testing for the mutation, but still ended up with breast cancer. “I immediately sent an e-mail out to everyone I know,” she said after the confirmation, looking for as much information as she could find – some good and some bad. “Everyone really rallied for me.”

Price handled the situation well, until she went to brush her hair one morning and clump after clump of hair started falling out. “I went to my dad with tears and scissors, and I sat on the floor while he cut my hair away,” she said. “I later went to a barber and got the razor shave. At first, he looked at me like I was crazy, then we had fun with it.”

Walking into her doctor’s appointments dressed in colorful wigs, fun high heels, and crazy costumes, Price made the best she could out of the bad experience. “It made me feel better to put smiles on other people’s faces,” she said, adding that long after her treatments were finished, her outfits were still being talked about. “Just being positive and having a good outlook can change someone’s bad day.”

Her upbeat attitude and crazy wigs and outfits helped her while campaigning for the crown last year to raise money for AIDS Help. In total, the five candidates brought in more than $200,000 for the cause. “The number one question I get is if I am exhausted,” she said. “This whole year was easy, the only time I was exhausted was the eight weeks of campaigning. I know this year’s candidates are ready for coronation.”

Price’s favorite part of being queen is the platform it gives her to help others. She recently started a radio show on 104.9 The X on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. called “Sweet Spot with the Queen.” She is on her fourth week now and gets to chat with up and coming artists in the community and those passing through. “Musicians are the lifeblood of our community,” she said. “We play a lot of games, like my favorite, the deserted island game, and it helps the listeners get to know them as people.”

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Mary-Lynne Price didn’t show off her hairless head until a 12-year-old friend’s son asked her at lunch in front of a bunch of her friends if she was bald. ‘With everyone’s eyes looking at me and him, he asked if he could touch it,’ she said, and took her wig off for him. It was a turning point in her treatment for breast cancer. ‘It was an amazing unveiling of my new self.’

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2014sFantasy Fest Queen spends her last days as the reigning queen campaigning for AIDS Help around the country. Here, in front of Lady Liberty. ‘I wear my crown everywhere,’ she said. ‘Winn-Dixie, out of the boat, traveling through the East Coast, the more awareness I can bring to AIDS Help, the better.’

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