The Power of Hope
NorCal Think Pink…
Barbie may have gotten people to embrace pink this summer, but NorCal Think Pink will make sure the trend continues into the fall, with the entire month of October dedicated to breast cancer awareness and its signature color. The activities of the nonprofit are returning to pre-COVID levels with some new events being added to the calendar, including a classic car show.
“The overall goal is to reduce breast cancer diagnoses in Shasta County,” says Lori Lumbattis, treasurer and past president of NorCal Think Pink. “We want to encourage people to do their self-exams and go get their mammograms.”
Founded in 1996 in Redding, NorCal Think Pink has been continually growing and expanding its outreach so words that were once uttered in hushed tones – breast cancer – are now openly discussed. “We’ve been at it a long time,” says Lumbattis, who became involved when breast cancer entered her own family many years ago.
A hallmark of the October campaign is distribution of informational calendars in resource bags that support understanding of breast cancer prevention and detection. The year Think Pink was founded, 500 bags were handed out. This year, 40,000 bags will be distributed. An undertaking this grand requires a building to be rented and volunteers to shuffle through for up to two weeks ahead of time to prepare. About half the bags are distributed in Redding at a drive-through event at Tri Counties Bank, and the rest are sent to places in Trinity, Siskiyou and Modoc counties.
Bag distribution will occur October 19 and will be followed up by a resource fair at the Sundial Bridge, where the iconic bridge will glow pink in solidarity. There will be entertainment, speakers, information tables and food trucks at the event. “We invite people who have lost loved ones to come down,” says Lumbattis, who notes that every year she hears from people filled with gratitude who acted on the information provided by NorCal Think Pink and caught their cancer early enough to eradicate it.
“Now mammograms are part of a normal health care program,” she adds. Still, she says, “Ladies still need to be vigilant and be their own advocate. Everybody, especially women, need to be their own advocate. Don’t be afraid to make the phone calls over and over and ask the questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t feel right, tell your doctor. You know yourself better than anyone.”
The organization encourages vigilance with monthlyself-exams,whichcanbecriticalin early detection. “We call it ‘knowing your normal’ so people can know when a change occurs and can take care of it right away,” says Lumbattis. “Life gets overwhelming. Things have to be prioritized. Your health is a big priority.” Breast cancer is 98 percent survivable when caught early and still localized.
While the bag distribution and resource fair are highlights of the month, they are far from the only things happening to create awareness. The annual 5K Think Pink Walk/Run will occur Saturday, October 7 at the Sundial Bridge. The Redding Elks Lodge will be the sight of the inaugural Think Pink Car Show on Sunday, October 8.
October is a traditional time to promote breast cancer awareness, but the work of NorCal Think Pink occurs all year long. The organization supports a mobile mammography program that provides mammograms in an imaging van that travels to rural areas without imaging services. They also work with MD Imaging Center on a breast cancer detection fund that provides vouchers to women who need assistance paying their deductible for further diagnostics after breast cancer is discovered. The organization also helps women access the Every Woman Counts fund, which provides support to women needing financial assistance for mammograms.
The NorCal Think Pink website offers reliable, science-based information and resources for both prevention and treatment, along with information for caregivers supporting family members and friends with breast cancer.
While breast cancer is a serious issue, there is reason to celebrate the success in early detection and survival and to memorialize those lost to the disease. Lumbattis and other members of the NorCal Think Pink board look forward to meeting the community they’ve been working so hard for throughout the month at the various events. Lumbattis particularly anticipates the resource fair at the Sundial Bridge.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone come out dressed in pink, and the bridge all lit up. We get to see people, everything in action.”•