Dianne Frances D. Powell
TERRE HAUTE —
At 29, Sarah Norton received news that changed her life.
She had breast cancer.
“I was very shocked in the beginning,” she said, adding that she was in a state of disbelief that something like this can happen to a 29 year old.
But breast cancer knows no age. It also did not take into account that Norton, a health and physical education teacher and mother of two toddlers, had to add treatments to her busy schedule.
Her treatment started the week she was diagnosed and she just decided to “take it one day at a time.”
But like others with breast cancer, Norton needed support.
Luckily, she was not alone. Norton turned to her husband, extended family and friends for support.
“The things that were done for me … just made such a difference,” she said.
Norton particularly recalls the generosity of the daycare center that provided dinner for her family on days when she had to undergo chemotherapy, a procedure which she said drains a person’s energy. So dinner on those nights was one less thing she had to do.
“The first day we picked up food, I just cried my heart out,” she said of the touching gesture.
But there are other breast cancer patients in the area that need support and a new Wabash Valley organization aims to provide it.
PINK (which stands for Passion, Initiative, Need & Knowledge) wants to “bridge the gap of patients and their everyday, unmet needs associated with their battle with breast cancer,” said co-founder Dr. Darren Brucken.
The charity aims to support breast cancer patients and their families.
Brucken said that many organizations are unable to meet patients’ individual needs because they are grant-driven so PINK was created to touch the lives of people “that can’t be touched by those larger, national organizations.”
PINK is also co-founded by Amy Bagnoche, a breast cancer survivor and friend of Brucken’s. The pair were inspired by the stories of breast cancer patients they have met.
Bagnoche recalls her interaction with other patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. The patients told her tales of how the cancer affected their daily lives, particularly discussing the financial hardships it has imposed on them.
“They needed a friend, they just needed some extra help,” she said.
Touched by their stories, Bagnoche and Brucken started the process of forming PINK a year ago and the organization became functional this year.
The organization reached out to area health care providers and other breast cancer organizations emphasizing that they are “all on the same page with trying to benefit breast cancer patients,” Brucken said.
PINK already helped someone last week. A patient lost some furniture after her apartment was flooded and PINK helped her get bedroom furniture for her kids, Brucken said.
The organization is also planning to launch a program that will pair breast cancer patients with people who have previously walked in their footsteps. The “Cancer Companion Program,” will connect breast cancer patients with survivors and PINK volunteers to share their experiences and provide emotional support.
One of the volunteers is Norton, who said she decided to get involved to “help other women in the area to cope with this [breast cancer], to deal with this.”
The organization is currently raising awareness and funds. Founders said that 100 percent of the funds raised will stay in the area.
PINK hosted two events recently, with more large-scale events planned for the end of the year, Brucken said. One of the events was the 2nd Golf Outing at Idle Creek Golf Course on Saturday.
On Friday, PINK supporters gathered at Bogey’s Family Fun Center for the group’s fundraising event, “PINK Party.” In addition to dinner and outdoor activities, attendees were treated to a concert by “The Adam Craig Band” of Nashville, Tenn., and an appearance by the Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders.
Two Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders greeted guests and signed autographs. Stephanie B. and Sophie T. usually wear the color blue but at the event, the signature Indianapolis Colts horseshoe was pink. The color and their presence “show our support of breast cancer awareness,” Terre Haute resident and Indiana State University student Stephanie B., said.
Another guest who came to show his support was Brian LeMaster. Wearing his pink shirt, he said the event is a “good night out with a bunch of friends but for a good cause.”
Other attendees came for more personal reasons.
“My mom had breast cancer so I thought I’d come out and support,” said Terre Haute resident Amanda Adamson who attended with her two daughters.
She said the event is “awesome … it’s great to get families together.”
It is also a reminder to people “of how unfortunately common breast cancer is,” Adamson said.
Tribune-Star reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-231-4299.