Pink Heals Tour makes first appearance at Fort Hood
October 31, 2011
Many people were crying and hugging in front of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center the morning of Oct. 25.
But it was a display of good emotions and support as hundreds of cancer survivors, patients in treatment, caregivers and others touched by cancer came out to add their names to the "Pink Heals" fire trucks parked in front of the medical center.
The trucks made their first appearance at Fort Hood as part of the national Pink Heals Tour--a nonprofit group of firefighters and other volunteers who drive the pink trucks around the country for two months to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer.
"Many people had never seen or heard of this "Pink Heals" tour, but we had almost 500 people come to see the trucks and offer their support," said Capt. Lakeisha Jones, preventive medicine nurse, who coordinated the Pink Heals visit. "As the trucks rounded the corner, I was tearing up at how special this is to all the survivors, victims of cancer, and their families. It was absolutely an extraordinary event and I am honored to have been a part of it."
One survivor, Chrishawn Turner, agreed that it was a wonderful event, and a great way to let everyone know that's there's hope for victims.
Turner, now 40 years old and retired from the Army, discovered her breast cancer while she was deployed in Iraq. After surgery, she received chemotherapy at Darnall and has been cancer-free for four years.
"It was so meaningful for me. Cancer is such a terrible thing to go through and it just makes you feel so good to see that there is so much support. And it's a way, too, to show that yeah, cancer's tough, but it is beatable," she said.
Showing support for cancer victims is critical, Carol Lewis, a 20-year survivor, agreed.
"I was one of the lucky ones, so to speak, in that they were able to remove my tumor with surgery and radiation. I was also lucky to have support and help from special individuals who showed me how to focus on life, not the disease," she said. "That's why events like Pink Heals and others are so important, as the victims really do need that support. It was especially heart-warming to see the firemen hug each survivor."
Lewis's cancer experience happened when she was working in what is now the Patient Admission and Disposition department. She said she was grateful for the support of her co-workers then--and now. The PAD staff also held their own "Pink Heals Luncheon" to show support for Lewis and to promote awareness for the fight against breast cancer.
Another big part of the day's events was the walk-in mammograms for eligible beneficiaries offered by CRDAMC's Radiology department. The department did 26 exams that day, according to Corita Thomas, lead mammography technologist, compared to their typical day's average of 17.
"Early detection is key to fighting breast cancer. We highly recommend that every woman 40 years or older get a mammogram," she said. "Women should have their first mammo¬gram at age 35 to set a baseline, and they should start having annual screening mammograms starting at age 40. If a patient has a first degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with a history of breast cancer, she should start her screening mammogram 10 years prior to the age her relative was diagnosed."
Thomas said in most cases the Darnall mammography department can schedule a routine annual mammogram on a same-day basis. To make it even easier for everyone to get their exams, she added, the department is now allowing eligible beneficiaries to self-refer to schedule their annual exam.