Prattville – Despite the cooler temperatures that literally blew in overnight, many breast cancer survivors, families affected by the disease, City employees, elected officials, and members of the media gathered at Heritage Park in downtown Prattville early Friday morning to turn the fountain pink.
The event is part of the River Region’s campaign for breast cancer awareness. Pink balloons were distributed to those in attendance who have been affected by the disease and were released after the water in the fountain became a reddish color.
Kellie Cook, Special Events Coordinator for the City of Prattville, explained the recipe for that “magical potion.”
“There is a place in Missouri called the White Rabbit Dye Company,” Cook said. “It’s what Montgomery uses to dye their fountain pink. But, it starts out blood red and takes a few days to turn pink.”
“Obviously for TV purposes, we needed it automatically pink, so we used about 700 packets of pink lemonade mixed with that red dye.”
Fortunately, that wasn’t the drink of the day as the Prattville Chick-Fil-A furnished gallons of greatly appreciated steaming hot coffee.
Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr. took a few moments to welcome some of the elected officials who had risen early in order to be at the park and to explain why their participation in breast cancer awareness was so important.
“First of all, I thank State Representative Mac Gipson who has a pink tie on and his wife is here wearing her ‘ta ta’ shirt,” Byard said. “Nathan Fank is here, our Circuit Clerk Whit Moncrief, and Judge Al Booth is here taking pictures.”
“The more that elected officials are aware, the more things can get done.”
Byard then announced to everyone that the day was about honoring and celebrating all of the ladies who have pink balloons because they are breast cancer survivors.
“I’m just overwhelmed at the amount of folks who are here,” Byard said. “This is a great turnout.”
“Let us remember to think about those that aren’t with us because we do stand on the shoulders of those who came before us,” he continued.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the majority of breast cancer deaths occur among women who don’t receive regular mammography.
The first sign of breast cancer is usually a lump or a spot seen on the x-ray exam. However, many women have found the lumps themselves through self-exams or simply by chance as was the case of Donna Smith of Prattville who is currently battling the disease.
“I was diagnosed this past May and found the lump myself accidentally,” Smith said. “I’ve been doing okay with the treatments.”
“But, the thing you need to have is a good relationship with Jesus Christ and have a church family that supports you. And, find and recognize a good man and hang on to him.”
Anyone with first-degree relatives who have had breast cancer is at increased risk, but most people don’t get the inherited kind of breast cancer caused by a mutated gene. Prattville resident Gail Bradford, cancer-free for eight years, stated that no one else in her family has had breast cancer.
“No breast cancer … out of four sisters, a mother, and a grandmother,” Bradford stated. “I had a sister die of lung cancer, however, but she was a heavy smoker.”
Many in attendance at Heritage Park were doing so on behalf of others who had battled the disease in the past. Barbara Easterling was proud to represent a sister, a friend, and a neighbor who were all breast cancer survivors. Terri Taylor was there with her daughter; Pamela aged 43, who will celebrate five years without the disease this next January.
Cancer not only drains the family physically and emotionally, but financially as well. Many women do not have health insurance or cannot afford the screening and diagnostic tests.
There are usually programs in most states that will cover the cost of certain tests or some facilities may be willing to work out a lower fee or payment schedule. In some instances, non-profit organizations like Joy to Life can help.
“We provide free mammograms for medically underserved women under 50,” said Joy Blondheim, one of the founders of Joy to Life. “Many thousands of women in Alabama do not have good insurance like I do.”
“So, my husband and I started Joy to Life because we just wanted to give back and we’ve been doing that since 2001.”
For more information on Joy to Life, see www.joytolife.org.
Article by Melissa Parker
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