Shelby Baptist remembers, honors those impacted by breast cancer

ALABASTER – For Lynn Beam, signing the Pink Heals Central Alabama fire truck was momentous occasion. It’s something that she’s wanted to do for years, but she could never catch it while it was in her area.

But all that changed on Thursday, Oct. 24, when she got her chance to sign the pink fire truck while it was parked at Shelby Baptist Medical Center as a part of the hospital’s efforts to bring attention to breast cancer.

Dressed in a white, long sleeve shirt with a glittery pink breast cancer ribbon on the front, Beam signed the truck in celebration of being cancer free. Nov. 11 will mark her 11th year as a survivor. She made her way to the hospital from her home in Randolph just to sign the truck.

“I’ve had several scares since then, but all has been good,” Beam said.

With October recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the hospital invited survivors to sign the truck in recognition of their fight against cancer. Members of the community were also invited to sign the truck in memory or honor of a loved who battled the disease.

Shelby Baptist marketing manager Brian Pavlick said this was the second year Pink Heals Central Alabama has partnered with the hospital to raise awareness about breast cancer. Pink Heals volunteer and Pelham firefighter Jim Terrell said signing the fire truck can be therapeutic for some people.

Pink Heals Inc. is a nonprofit national organization made up of public safety officers that partner with public safety entities, local businesses and families to bring communities together, according to its website.

Pink Heals raises the money needed to paint and customize donated fire trucks. Each donated vehicle is painted pink and named after someone who has battled cancer and inspired others. Rather than focusing on one specific type of cancer, Pink Heals uses the color pink to represent women who are battling or have battled various types of cancer.

Every year the organization hosts a Pink Heals Tour and travels throughout the U.S. in their pink fire trucks visiting individuals.

“They’re doing their own form of healing,” Pavlick said. “They’re making people smile and giving them a hug when they really need it.”

According to Pavlick, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. A woman with no family history of the cancer should begin getting annual mammograms at 40 years old. Women with a family history should talk to their doctor about beginning earlier.

“While the mortality rate is decreasing because if annual screenings, the amount of diagnoses per year is still flat,” Pavlick said. “It impacts who it wants, but advancements in technology have enabled us to detect even the smallest traces of cancer.”

And although men don’t receive annual screenings, Pavlick wants men to know they are not exempt from being diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Pink is not just a lady color,” he said. “If you’re a male and you feel a lump in your chest, think about how big it has to be in order for you to feel it. It can be equally as dangerous for men. Although we typically focus on the ladies, I do want to tell men to be aware.”

Beam urged women to “please protect themselves.”

“I tell my grandkids and my family all the time to go get checked,” Beam said. “You can be fine one year and not the next.”