Firefighters take axe, uniform to fight against breast cancerAs people search for fall colors this month, add pink to the list. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, pink is showing up on ribbons, store shelves and car magnets. Even Superior’s firefighters are going “Passionately Pink for a Cure.”
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
As people search for fall colors this month, add pink to the list.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, pink is showing up on ribbons, store shelves and car magnets. Even Superior’s firefighters are going “Passionately Pink for a Cure.”
Their uniform this month includes navy blue T-shirts trimmed in pink — according to the logo on the back — to “Give Cancer the Axe.”
Firefighters nationwide have had the option to go pink in October since 2010.
A pink fire truck travels across country, said Capt. Lindzi Campbell.
Although Superior firefighters have been passing the boot for the MDA since 1954, this is the first year they’ve joined the fight against breast cancer.
“It was a pretty easy sell for us,” a personal one, Campbell said.
Robbi Tribbey, whose husband Joe is a member of the department, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2006.
“It was kind of something that we all … processed as a family,” Campbell said. “We all work together and live together; it’s a very personal thing for us.”
Tribbey said the firefighters went beyond the call of duty while she was sick.
“These guys got a chest freezer and they filled it with pre-made food from everybody who works here,” Tribbey said. “So all we had to do was pull something out of the freezer and heat it up. It was amazing. They brought the whole darn freezer, put it in the garage.”
The hardest thing, the firefighters said, was pulling it out of Firefighter Erick Sutton’s basement.
“We have four kids,” Tribbey said. “With me being laid up, it was the best thing ever. It was amazing.”
The firefighters are doing more than donning pink this month. The department hopes to fight breast cancer by selling the pink logo T-shirts for $15 each. Ten dollars from each sale will go to the Young Survivor Coalition, which provides education, support and testing services for women younger than 40. The shirts will be on sale at the North End and headquarters stations, Grizzly’s, Thirsty Pagan and the Sears store in the Mariner Mall.
Superior firefighters could have opted for an even more colorful presence.
“I wanted the full pink T-shirt,” said Firefighter Camron Vollbrecht.
But the navy with pink trim, said Campbell, will probably sell better. As of Oct. 1, the department had already sold 200 shirts, including pre-orders from Fire Chief Jim Rigstad and Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen.
“I think it’s great. Great cause, great visibility,” said the mayor, who stopped by the station Monday with money in hand. People can expect to see some pink in the city office during the month.
“Yes, I will be wearing it for sure,” Hagen said. “I’d rather be wearing T-shirts any day.”
Along with the businesses that stepped up to sell shirts, Arrowhead Printing donated posters for the department and Advantage Emblem provided the shirts at a low cost.
“Basically everyone’s gotten behind it, and I think just generally people like to get behind a good cause,” Campbell said. It feels good to help out, she said, and the campaign offers firefighters a chance to meet and talk with people in a non-emergency setting.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among Wisconsin women; of the estimated 4,270 women expected to be diagnosed in the state this year, 690 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Early stage breast cancer is 98 percent survivable, yet just 27 percent of late-stage breast cancer patients survive their disease.
Locally, the average number of new breast cancer cases diagnosed in Douglas County is 110 per year; in St. Louis County, Minn., is 155, according to Joni Tauzell, senior community relations with the American Cancer Society. The average number of cancer deaths each year is 29 for both Douglas and St. Louis counties.
Efforts to fight back against breast cancer have increased this year, Tauzell said. They include the third annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk that takes place Saturday at Lake Superior College and sales of special pink logo items at maurices and Younkers stores, with portions of the proceeds earmarked for cancer research and support.
At the University of Wisconsin-Superior, the pink treadmill is in use again. Every mile run on the treadmill during the month will generate money to donate to the Breast Cancer Foundation. Students, faculty and staff can sign up to run. Last year, the UWS athletic department stepped up to the challenge, running more than 90 miles on the treadmill in a single day.
These think pink events are “vitally important” in the fight against breast cancer, Tauzell said. They provide funding for research, education, programs and services and advocacy. They also increase awareness. To tap into local programs and services through the American Cancer Society’s Patient Navigator program, call Toby Sillanpa at 218-786-8541. Everyone is invited to take part in Saturday’s 5K walk, as well. Registration is 7-9 a.m. with the opening ceremony and walk at 9 a.m. at Lake Superior College.