As a breast cancer survivor, Cecil Herrin wants to do all that he can to raise awareness, particularly among men. He now has a big pink vehicle in which to do it.
Augusta Ready Mix painted one of its trucks hot pink and put Herrin’s picture on the side to draw awareness to breast cancer. The truck includes the message, “Early detection is the key to survival for all.”
Herrin is one of the rare men who get breast cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates 2,240 men in the U.S. will get the disease this year, compared with 234,580 women – 0.95 percent of breast cancer cases – and 410 will die from it, about 1 percent of all deaths.
“It’s rare, but I think last year we had two men,” said Pam Anderson, the cancer services program coordinator for University Hospital. That is about the annual average.
Herrin believes there is a dearth of awareness about it among men.
“Breast cancer for men is the most unknown thing there is,” he said.
Karen Hunt, a partner at Augusta Ready Mix, said she was shocked when she found out their longtime customer had breast cancer.
“I was really surprised he had to go through that,” she said.
Terry Davis, a partner in Augusta Ready Mix, said the idea of painting their trucks came to him years ago while watching soldiers return at the airport.
“I said, ‘How can I bring some attention to them? I’m a patriot,’ ” he said.
After getting proper permission, the company has trucks honoring the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. It has another truck that honors Golden Harvest Food Bank and one that honors the city of Augusta.
The idea of having a pink truck caused a little hesitation at first among the drivers, Davis said, until they saw it.
“I’d drive it in a heartbeat,” Davis said.
“It is beautiful,” Herrin said.
It is delivering its message to a segment of the society that doesn’t often hear about early detection with breast cancer.
“We’re just trying to bring awareness to the male world that we live in,” Davis said. “We live in a male world in the construction industry.”
Said Hunt: “We’ve got a great audience.”
The point, Anderson said, is to look for changes in the breast, a lump or redness or discharge, and not to ignore it.
“Because men tend to think it is not anything,” she said. “They may be more apt to ignore a lump versus a woman.”
“Any lump, we say get checked,” Anderson said.
Now Augusta has a big pink reminder rumbling through its streets.
“It’s a rolling billboard for breast cancer,” Herrin said. “That’s better than any billboard I could have put up.”