Fall River -
A 67-year-old cancer survivor was crowned Ms. Senior Sweetheart of America at the 29th annual pageant Sunday.
Carol Tuohy of the Virgin Islands danced her way to the title, finishing ahead of 22 other contestants at B.M.C. Durfee High School's Robert J. Nagle Auditorium.
Tuohy thanked the judges, the pageant committee and her husband, Marty, who served as a prop to assist her in performing her dance to the calypso tune, "Hot, hot, hot."
"I could not have gone on without him," she told the audience after being crowned.
The mother of two fought breast cancer twice, resulting in a masectomy in 2005. She has become a spokeswoman for women facing that surgery.
"There's a lot of living to do after cancer and no doctor can tell you how many days you have on earth," she stated earlier. "Only God has that answer."
The couple has lived in the Virgin Islands for 13 years.
"Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away," Tuohy said.
The first runner-up, Frances Christian, 65, of Texas, competed between chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer.
During her stay, her bloodwork was drawn locally and faxed to her doctors so they could monitor her condition.
She is widowed and has two children and four grandchildren.
She tap danced to "Alexander's Rag Time Band."
"Think positive. Put a smile on your face. Live each day to the fullest. Share your talents with others," she said. "Thank God you're alive and enjoy every day while you can."
Other runners-up are: second, Lynette Schlager of Nevada; third, Sharon Maloney of Michigan, and fourth, Divina Alora-Jacome of the Philippines.
The home-grown event, founded by Leonard "Low price Lenny" Kaplan, went national 11 years ago and international three years ago.
Two other contestants from outside the United States were from Singapore and the Cayman Islands, British West Indies.
The show opened with a colorful country western number by the contestants.
In the talent competition, Ruth Gibson of Florida gave new meaning to belly dancing with her comedy skit.
The audience showed its appreciation with rousing applause for her.
Maloney clogged to the tune, "Last night." Alora-Jacome sang "When I fall in love," and Schlager sang and danced to "All that jazz."
Outgoing queen Jacquelyn J. Van Meter did a ballroom dance number.
As the reigning queen for 2006-07, she said, "I've had the most wonderful magic carpet ride for one year."
After an intermission, the contestants participated in an evening gown competition.
One contestant scheduled to compete, Phyllis Chickett, 81, of St. Paul, Minn., suffered a heart attack en route to catch her flight here. She is reported to be OK.
Kaplan introduced and sang "Let me call you sweetheart" to several former queens, including 92-year-old Anita Raposa, the first Ms. Senior Sweetheart of America in 1978.
The pageant began 29 years ago as a Lions Club fundraiser.
Contestants must be age 58 or older.
E-mail John Moss at firstname.lastname@example.org.