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Local businesses "think pink"

BY MEGAN SANCHEZ | OCTOBER 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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Pink lights will illuminate front porches, locals will walk in honor of those who have battled, and money will be donated toward research. All of these events have one central purpose: promoting breast cancer awareness.

In light of the great impact breast cancer has on Iowans, many local businesses are once again stepping up to support the cause during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October.

One of the earliest events taking place is the annual “Power of Pink” event on Thursday. Mercy Medical Center and Alliant Energy in Cedar Rapids are partnering to put on the event, which includes refreshments, a live radio broadcast, and a pink illumination of the hospital and cancer center.

Alliant energy has donated 1,500 pink energy-efficient light bulbs, worth approximately $5,000, for event goers to take home. The hope is that locals will use these festive light bulbs on their front porches to create awareness of the disease and practice energy efficiency.

“Really, this has become an event about raising awareness and saving lives, but you’re also saving energy,” said Ryan Stensland, an Alliant Energy spokesman.

Last year, 450 people attended the event and Karen Vander Sanden, a public-relations specialist for the medical center, said each year, officials have seen growth.

“[Awareness] could be lifesaving for one individual or many individuals,” she said. “[It is important] to bring awareness to the fact that it is important to be screened for breast cancer and know what the guidelines are.”

According to the State Health Registry of Iowa from the University of Iowa College of Public Health, 27.4 percent of Iowa women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013.

UI Assistant Professor William Rockey, a radiation oncologist, works with breast-cancer patients. He said it is important for awareness to be created each year through these annual events so more women will participate in screenings.

“[Breast cancer] is a very common problem,” he said. “It’s a cancer that can be treated very well if it’s caught in early stages.”

Since 2009, between 185 and 200 patients were treated at the UIHC Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center each year.

Vander Sanden said for every person that attends the event, $2 will be donated to the “Especially For You” fund — a partnership between Mercy Medical Center and General Mills that helps underinsured women get mammograms and other breast-cancer prevention and treatment needs.

“Especially For You” will also hold its 23rd annual 5K race on Oct. 13. The event is one of the largest road races in eastern Iowa and attracts more than 15,000 people.

While many agree promotion of the event during October is important, one Coralville business promotes awareness of the deadly cancer all year.

Décolletage Perfect Fit Boutique, 2771 Oakdale Blvd. Suite 4, Coralville, is a store that provides products for breast-cancer patients after mastectomies. Store manager Cheryl Schlote said the store always works to create awareness, specifically during the month of October. The boutique is also celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, and will offer special deals and donating clothes to a fashion show at Bella Sale Reception Center on Oct. 20.

At this event, Johnson County cancer survivors will make their runway debut by modeling clothing from different boutiques.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Johnson County division of the Iowa Public Health’s Care For Yourself program, which supplies financial assistance for mammograms. 

“A lot of times when women have their diagnosis, they have surgery, they go through chemo and radiation, and they’re just kind of released,” Schlote said. “Sometimes, they don’t even know products and services are available, and that breaks my heart. I want them to know that [these supplies] are out there and available.”


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