Cirque D’ Festival

After a tenure that spans nearly three decades as a CARTI survivor and ardent ambassador, Shannon McKinney welcomes guests to Festival of Fashion – the most stylish event at Festival of Trees.

By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Sara Reeves | Hair by Jill Johnson and Holly Ragar with Salon L | Makeup by Aaron Perkins with Face Your Day Salon | Blouse from Beige | Shot on location at Michael Thornberry’s Farm –  Running T Acres Special thanks to Starbert Dilly Dally – the horse extraordinaire

Shannon McKinney is the epitome of perfection: intelligent, gorgeous, hilarious and gracious. If she weren’t so genuine, it might be easy to find fault – or at least not like her quite so much. Her CARTI story – like so many – illuminates with hope, love and strength. It defines her, but certainly doesn’t diminish her enthusiasm for life and her steadfast commitment to CARTI. CARTI is simply a part of who she is… It makes her even more beautiful, but don’t be fooled – behind that broad smile + twinkle in her eyes is a fierce spirit. And after a tenure that spans nearly three decades as a CARTI survivor and ardent ambassador, Shannon welcomes guests to Festival of Fashion – the most stylish event at Festival of Trees.

Shannon is a testament to the renowned compassionate, personalized care that CARTI offers patients. It’s been a part of her life and wellness routine for practically as long as she can remember. After struggling with what might be considered typical exhaustion for any active teenager, her father noticed a lump on her neck. It was diagnosed as cancer and followed by two months of radiation treatment during her senior year of high school. “The physicians and nurses at CARTI made sure everything about how I felt, whether it was a big or small issue, was taken into consideration. They were very concerned with my care and full remission,” she recalls. Her school schedule was adjusted to accommodate her treatments, and throughout that time Dr. Anthony Buccolo and a team of oncology radiologists joined her family’s fight for her life. She graduated from Cabot High School and continued her education at the University of Arkansas. She reflects, “Now, as a parent, I can only imagine how that kind of attention to every detail must have relieved my parents.”

Only five months after the birth of her son Keatts, she discovered a lump that would be diagnosed as breast cancer. “I was 35 years old with a newborn and scared. I called Dr. Buccolo and he saved my life again.” She’s been cancer-free since 2005 and is a devoted mother and civic leader. She is involved with the Komen Race for the Cure, ACCESS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, but notes, “CARTI has a special place in my heart – they saved my life, twice.”

Celebrating the BIG 40, CARTI hosts Festival of Trees to benefit patient care. The festivities of each signature event offer fun for the entire family – from the Sugar Plum Ball to Festival After Dark and Tux ’N Trees. Its broad appeal makes it a beloved holiday tradition.

Established as Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute, CARTI provided a centrally located cancer treatment center specializing in radiation therapy. Today, CARTI treats 20,000 Arkansans annually and offers all-inclusive cancer treatments with a statewide network of clinics that administer radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Last November, the world-class CARTI Cancer Center opened as a comprehensive treatment facility with all services available in a centralized location.

Education and research have evolved, but CARTI’s mission remains constant. Patients benefit from the newest technology and truly compassionate service – care that extends beyond the physical with special consideration to the emotional support of the patient and the family.

Festival of Fashion promises to be a celebration of epic proportions. This year’s Cirque D’ Festival appeal features 14 local boutiques in the New York Fashion Week-style runway show as well as extraordinary entertainment from local dance troupes and more, Shannon says.

Jennifer Day, a well-established CARTI auxiliary member, is being honored as this year’s Festival of Fashion style icon. Style is certainly the star of the evening, but it’s CARTI survivor stories and a resilient spirit like Shannon’s that truly inspire the fight against cancer to continue. “I am very proud and lucky to have been a CARTI kid.”


Inviting Arkansas

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