Tuesday, October 25, Historic Downtown Richmond will turn pink, with pink ribbons on anything and everything that does not move. The day will culminate with a ceremony @ 6:00 p.m., with speakers, an open house and a reception. So mark your calendars now and plan to attend.
The event, the brainchild of Lanie Alvarez, co-owner of Italian Maid Café and Shereen Lary, owner Pomegranate & Co., both located in Historic Downtown Richmond, understands how widespread and devastating breast cancer can be if not caught early.
“This event is about public awareness, about the importance of mammograms and having family and friends’ support when going through treatments,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez recently celebrated her seventh year anniversary of being a breast cancer survivor and notes having a support system and a close friend by her side, helped her go through treatments and all of the doctors’ visits.
“My journey with breast cancer began in 2004, when I went for a diagnostic mammogram, after having discovered a lump. A friend of mine, who is also a breast cancer survivor, said she had had a burning sensation at the site of her lump. I had felt that too. I went in for my mammogram at Oak Bend Medical Center. After the mammogram they did not want me to leave, they wanted to do more tests. That is when I knew. I knew the diagnosis was going to be positive for breast cancer and I was scared. This is when your life begins to change. That day was like an earthquake in my life, changing everything I knew to be true from white to black. Yet that day began my life saving treatments,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez went on to have a mastectomy the same year and had her first chemotheraphy the week her middle son graduated from high school, then she begun five years of tamoxifen.
“After researching the different kinds of breast cancer, my husband dubbed mine, ‘the nice kind,’ because it was one the doctors knew how to treat. The kind that after five to 10 years of no recurrence, you are called cured, not just in remission,” Alvarez said.
While recuperating from reconstruction surgery, a friend told her one day this would be only a blip on the radar of her life. Once she finished chemo, she put her wig in her closet, where it remain today.
“I think you have to heal not only physically but also emotionally and psychologically. Yet, even though you heal in all of these ways, you do not forget, and once in a while when I notice my wig in my closet I feel that fear I felt that first day I was told I had breast cancer. This is why I believe this event is so important. As a community it is our responsibility to remind women to go to the doctor, have mammograms and to understand how important it is for this cancer and all cancers to be treated early,” Alvarez said.
Part of not forgetting, for Alvarez, was participating in a 60 mile Susan G Komen three-day Walk for the Cure, in Washington, D.C., which she completed with a college friend, September 23-25, 2011.
“What I gleaned from all of this, and from the walk, is that it is now my time to give back. Maybe what we are doing is something small, but if we can reach one woman, then we will feel like this event is successful,” Alvarez said.
The Lone Start Exchange Club of Richmond, the Exchange Club of Fort Bend, other businesses in downtown Richmond as well as other volunteers have partnered to help turn Historic Richmond Pink, with the ribbons going up Saturday, October 22, just a few days before the event on Tuesday, October 25.
Throughout the day Tuesday, Oct. 25, the Italian Made will be open and giving out Pink Cupcakes, which Pomegranate & Co. will be doing as well.
At the 6:00-6:30 p.m. ceremony, the City of Richmond will proclaim October 25, Breast Cancer Awareness Day in Richmond. Speakers will be Alvarez, and Dr. Sao Jiralerspong, Smith Breast Center, who will speak on breast cancer and detection. The ceremony will close with a reception at the Italian Maid Café and an open house at Pomegranate & Co, a new business which recently opened in Historic Richmond.
“We will be serving pink champagne and all sorts of pink finger foods at the Open House. Two jewelry designers, both breast cancer survivors, will be selling pink jewelry at the open house with proceeds donated to Breast Cancer Awareness,” Lary said.
“As a woman, I know how important this event is and I hope women and men come out and help us spread the word about the importance of mammograms. Everyone everywhere has known someone with breast cancer and many have lost loved ones to this disease,” Lary said.
Next year, Historic Richmond will probably sponsor a Walk for the Cure and more details will follow.
“We hope to see the community Tuesday night, October 25, at 6:00 p.m., so please come out and show your support, and as you leave, feel free to take a pink ribbon and wear it the rest of the month in honor of all those who are fighting for their lives, fighting to help make this disease history, and for those wo have lost their lives to breast cancer,” Alvarez said.
For more information, please call 281-344-8955.