Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue firefighters are stepping up in the battle against breast cancer to raise money and awareness for local cancer screenings, education, and support services.
Members of Tualatin Valley Firefighters Union Local 1660 and TVF&R are teaming up during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to participate in the Firefighters in Pink campaign.
Between Oct. 16 and 31, TVF&R crews will be wearing pink T-shirts instead of their blue uniform shirts to show support for families who have been impacted by breast cancer.
“Firefighters are motivated to get involved for many reasons, and often, it’s because they have been personally affected by the disease,” says TVF&R Lt. Rocky Hanes, president of Local 1660.
Firefighters purchased their T-shirts through the union’s online store for $15 each. All proceeds will be split between the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Beaverton to help pay for cancer screenings and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, which provides assistance to all fire service members and their families following a cancer diagnosis.
“This cause is something we are passionate about,” says Chris Tompkins, Local 1660 secretary and an apparatus operator and paramedic with TVF&R. "The Firefighters in Pink campaign gives us a way to do what we can to raise awareness and money to fight a disease that has devastated so many families in our community."
By selecting the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Beaverton as a beneficiary, firefighters hope to help ensure breast cancer screenings are available to women facing economic, social, and cultural barriers that can impede their health, wellness, and access to high-quality care.
In 2014, the Beaverton center served more than 13,000 patients and an additional 400 students through a health clinic based at Beaverton High School, says Olivia MacKenzie, public relations officer for the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation.
Through a partnership with Susan G. Komen, the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center provides patients with support to increase breast health awareness, increase screenings, and decrease late-stage breast cancer diagnoses.
“It means so much to us to be selected as a beneficiary,” MacKenzie says. “The funding that comes through from organizations and agencies to support our work at the center shows our patients that people in our community care about them. It’s a collective effort — it’s our whole village that is stepping up to support them.”
The public is invited to get involved and join TVF&R firefighters’ effort to reduce breast cancer deaths in the community. Those who would like to "go pink" with firefighters may purchase a pink T-shirt online at www.iaff1660.org and pick it up from Local 1660's union office at 16400 S.W. Bryant Road in Lake Oswego on Monday-Thursday, between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Charitable donations to support this year’s beneficiaries can also be made online.
“We are supporting breast cancer awareness and prevention by encouraging others to give so that no breast cancer patient goes without lifesaving treatments or having hope for a cure,” Hanes says.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, TVF&R encourages individuals to consider the American Cancer Society's breast cancer screening guidelines and take action: Clinical breast exams are recommended about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women ages 40 and older. Yearly screening mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
Visit www.cancer.org to learn more about risk factors and what you can do to detect breast cancer early, when it can be most easily treated. To help reduce your risks take steps to maintain a healthy weight, eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercise, and limit alcohol consumption.