By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 19, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- With breast cancer being one of the leading causes of death in women, one class of the 1st Warrant Officer Company is raising awareness to take the fight head on.
Warrant officer candidates of 1st WOC's Pink Class 17-503 dedicated themselves to the fight against breast cancer as they unveiled their sign Oct. 12 in honor of Tiffany Lotz, military spouse, and others who are battling or have battled against the disease.
"This is a yearly thing (the 1st WOC does) to raise awareness for the cause of breast cancer. We attempt to try and raise awareness in Fort Rucker and the surrounding areas," said CW3 Karl Cokenour, 1st WOC training, advising and counseling officer. "Many of the candidates have people who have been affected by (this disease) … and this is something to get people thinking about it."
The sign features a winged black panther holding a crest with the familiar pink ribbon that symbolizes the fight against breast cancer, and below the ribbon reads "No one fights alone, ma'am," with Lotz' name featured on the bottom.
Class 17-503 is the third Pink Class to bring awareness for breast cancer and chose Lotz as their honoree, who is the spouse of one of the cadre members at the Warrant Officer Career College who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December.
For Lotz, the recognition is less about her, but more about awareness as a whole.
"I think this is so important because I didn't realize what awareness truly meant until I was diagnosed," she said. "I don't fit the age (demographic) of the disease and I don't have a family history of it, so it's people like me who needed to hear about this awareness because I thought I was untouchable -- this is not your grandmother's disease."
Lotz was able to detect the disease early through a self-check, which prompted her to get herself looked at professionally, and because of the early detection, she didn't have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
"I was under the age of annual mammograms, so had I waited until I was at the age of routine mammograms, it could have spread, which would have cause me to need more treatments," she said. "I just want to get the awareness out there that it's real, and it is a cancer that can be detected and treated. It's so important that people are checking, getting checked and not ignoring any symptoms."
For members of the Pink Class, the opportunity to bring awareness to a disease that impacts so many women and families was a blessing, and for WOC Eduardo Silva, 1st WOC, the message he and his fellow candidates wanted to convey with their sign was that no one has to go through the fight alone.
"Anybody going through this is not going to be alone," he said. "They're here, you've got family, you have friends and you have Army family around you -- nobody is going to leave you by yourself.
"We're huge supporters in this for those who have survived it," he continued. "It takes a lot of strength, courage and bravery to endure something like that, and you're always going to have people by your side."
"Everybody knows someone with cancer," added fellow WOC Phillip Carswell. "So, it's not something you just don't want to not think about until you're face-to-face with it, so I'm glad we have this monument here while we're here."
The opportunity to be able to come together as a class to bring awareness for such a cause was not only a bonding experience for members of the class, but also a learning experience on how members of the Army family take care of their own and their surrounding communities, said Cokenour.
"This just teaches them that being in the Army is not just about doing your job," said the TAC officer. "It's also about affecting the community around you and doing things that are outside of what's required."
The 1st WOC will host a breast cancer awareness 5k run Oct. 27.