Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Meet Prissy Bowers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Meet Prissy Bowers

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

Prissy Bowers is dressed in a canary-yellow shirt emblazoned with a smiley face to match her own sunny smile. A one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people-eater and a hopping toy kangaroo are on a windowsill in her living room.

"The Lord gave me a happy disposition," said Bowers, who's been a clown for 15 years.

That disposition has stood her in good stead as she receives weekly chemotherapy treatments to keep her metastatic breast cancer from spreading further. She's even entertained other cancer patients dressed as Buttercup, her clown persona.

"I just fell into clowning naturally," said Bowers, a member of Gator Clowns. "I'm always looking for ways to give myself, as well as others, a laugh."

The Lake Shore resident had a mastectomy in 1985. But in 1988, the cancer returned in the chest wall, and she had additional surgery. She was placed on the drug tamoxifen and the cancer went into remission.

But the cancer spread to her lung in 1998 and a lobe was removed. Bowers still has cancer on the exterior of her lung and has been receiving chemo since last September.

"I don't call myself terminal," she said. "I call myself chronic."

Since the cancer's return, her clowning has been confined to nursing homes and illustrating children's sermons at her church, Avondale United Methodist.

During Nurses' Month in June, she visited cancer patients in the DePaul Building by St. Vincent's Medical Center and "pulled all my tricks on them."

"She just has a wonderful spirit, and she brings it with her despite struggling with her disease," said Beth Moore Capp, nursing supervisor for North Florida Hematology & Oncology.

"You wouldn't know to look at her that she's battling cancer," Capp said. "The patients were just delighted when she came in dressed as a clown. She's a joy. Anecdotally, we know that patients who face cancer with a positive attitude do better."

Bowers' interests extend beyond clowning. She writes "because I have something to share," spins and weaves fibers, is a long-time garden club member and an avid environmentalist. …

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