Dianne Frances D. Powell
TERRE HAUTE —
It is the color of the ribbon painted on the pavement at the corner of Sixth Street and Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute. It’s also the color associated with women and breast cancer.
On Sunday, several breast cancer survivors and friends repainted the huge pink ribbon on the pavement of the intersection, to raise awareness about breast cancer. The event was organized by the Wabash Valley Breast Cancer Survivors Inc., which has been hosting the painting event for about 10 years.
Although almost all of the volunteer painters wore a pink shirt, not all of them were women.
Terre Haute resident Gary Buck wore a pink shirt that states “Real men wear pink” as he held a paint brush and painted one part of the big ribbon.
For the last 10 years — since the event’s inception — Buck has been volunteering and “doing my part.”
For one special reason.
“For my wife here who is a breast cancer survivor,” Buck said referring to wife Nancy, who stood by the ribbon also holding a brush with pink paint.
Nancy was diagnosed with a “very aggressive” breast cancer 18 years ago. When she asked the doctor about her chances, the doctor did not appear optimistic. But 18 years later, “here I am. Still no problems and enjoying life.”
“Every day, I just feel blessed,” she added.
Breast cancer is not just a women’s issue, the volunteers pointed out.
“So many more men are being diagnosed with breast cancer, too. So it’s important the men are included,” Nancy said.
Wabash Valley Breast Cancer Survivors Inc. founder and cancer survivor Coral Cochran said 416 men and almost 40,000 women in the U.S. will die this year from breast cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
“We paint as a constant reminder [to people] to get tested and do breast exams,” Cochran said as she held a paint brush.
Women, in particular, tend to be caretakers of others and “they forget to take care of themselves,” Cochran said.
“Their lives are important.”
Nancy, past president of the Wabash Valley Breast Cancer Survivors Inc., also spoke of her appreciation to the group, which “has done so much for me” over the years.
In every activity they do, they have fun, she said.
Painting on Sunday seemed fun for the volunteers, but one topic of discussion among them was the cracks on the pavement, which made it difficult to paint well. Organizers said they hoped the cracks have been fixed. But they were focused on the task at hand.
“Breast cancer awareness. That’s what it’s all about,” Nancy said of the event.
The event served as a kick off to the 14th annual “Paint The Town Pink” carnation sale coming Friday. Proceeds are used to help uninsured and underinsured women to have mammograms at six area hospitals; for free new wigs for women on chemotherapy; for coping kits handed out by the surgeons and oncologists; and for providing support and education about breast cancer, Cochran said. All money stays in the Wabash Valley, Cochran added.
And as people look at the newly painted ribbon at the busy “Crossroads of America” intersection, organizers hope they see a reminder to get mammograms and take action to enable early detection.
When Nancy looked at the ribbon and was asked what she saw, she said, “life.”
“I see life.”
Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@ tribstar.com.