Have you seen the pink patrol car yet?
Bellingham Police Department recently revealed a new pink patrol cruiser to raise awareness about breast cancer during the month of October. Additionally, Police Chief Rebecca Mertzig has authorized officers to wear pink patches and badges.
The department aims to highlight the importance of early screening and raise funds for the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center; the patrol car has a QR code on the back that can be scanned for a direct link to donate.
“We stand with those who are currently fighting cancer, recovering from cancer and living with cancer,” said Lieutenant Claudia Murphy of the Bellingham Police Department in a written statement. “We want people to get early screenings for cancer, and if us driving a pink patrol car makes people get a screening test, a mammogram or complete a self-exam, then it had done the job.”
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed for the entirety of October, with U.S. Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Oct. 13. The month is an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impacts of breast cancer, and Bellingham is participating.
“We believe raising awareness is indeed a large part of our job – we do it all the time,” Murphy said. “We raise awareness for many things, gun violence, domestic and sexual violence, child abuse, drinking and driving and the list goes on. Raising awareness is an essential function of a law enforcement officer and the department for which they work.”
The department’s contribution to Breast Cancer Awareness Month is significant for survivors who rely on new research for treatment options. Team Survivor Northwest, a group that provides fitness and health education programs for cancer survivors, is one example of why donations and community involvement can be imperative.
“We depend on and rely on the community to help us,” said Board President and cancer survivor Lisa Black. “We are a community ourselves, and we have members like me who continue to be part of our organization decades after cancer treatment. When people are actually doing something that is providing real support for survivors, I think it’s wonderful.”
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, and funding is incredibly important for a wide range of resources related to treatment.
“Funding for national organizations like American Cancer Society fund new treatments for research options that are coming out all the time,” said Kim Moses, a breast cancer nurse navigator at Peacehealth St. Joseph Center in Bellingham. “ It [also] helps with supportive services, such as a taxi ride to an appointment.”
In addition to scanning that QR code and donating to breast cancer research, community members can also support the cause by protecting themselves on a personal level.
“I think screening saves lives,” Moses said. “Taking care of oneself is the way [to] prevent cancers. It's been an amazing experience for me to be alongside people in this journey, and the real heroes are the patients.”