Pink truck helps raise breast cancer awareness

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 6:41 PM
Last updated 11:57 PM
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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.

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Augusta Ready Mix President Karen Hunt (from left), breast cancer survivor Cecil Herrin and Augusta Ready Mix CEO Terry Davis stand with a cement mixer truck painted pink to raise awareness of breast cancer.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Augusta Ready Mix President Karen Hunt (from left), breast cancer survivor Cecil Herrin and Augusta Ready Mix CEO Terry Davis stand with a cement mixer truck painted pink to raise awareness of breast cancer.

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.”

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specsta 04/03/13 - 02:19 am
Men Under-Represented in the Media

Great idea for the pink truck.

But here's a sobering fact - more men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer (238,590 according to the American Cancer Society) than women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer (232,340).

29,720 men will die from prostate cancer in a year's time.

Despite these high numbers, there are no commercials, no campaigns, no ribbons, no walk-a-thons, no special product packaging to raise awareness of prostate cancer in men. It is a silent killer.

Why is there no media rainstorm to inform men about the dangers and the symptoms? Why is there almost no discussion to inform men that they can reduce their chances of a prostate cancer diagnosis by almost 33% simply by ejaculating on a frequent, consistent basis, according to studies done at Harvard University and the National Cancers Institute, as well as research at John Hopkins?

Perhaps it's because of America's typical approach to sexual matters that concern men, which is to bury one's head in the sand. If there were a a chance to reduce breast cancer incidents by 33% through a simple activity, you better believe it would be trumpeted on every TV show and in every newspaper.

But because people choose to continue to treat sexual matters in this country by Puritan standards, men will continue to die and go undiagnosed until the latter stages of prostate cancer.

This country should be as comfortable talking about the quarter million cases of prostate cancer, as they are talking about breast cancer. Many of us know men (husbands, fathers, sons) who have died from this disease. And many times, they were ashamed to discuss the ordeal they were enduring. We are the ones who should be ashamed, that men feel the need to keep this suffering hidden and without the same support that is given to breast cancer victims and survivors.

Let's do more to raise awareness about the simple protective measure that can be taken, as well as understanding the diagnosis of this disease.

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