The fight comes home

For millions of people, the month of October will be seen through rose-colored glasses.

“October has been breast cancer awareness month for many years — it’s really gotten some major PR in the last few years as well,” said Joe Lustek, who is a representative for the Eau Claire chapter of the American Cancer Society.

The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month started in 1985 when a partnership formed between the American Cancer Society and a pharmaceutical company, according to the NBCAM website. The purpose of NBCAM is to create awareness, education and empowerment regarding breast cancer.

The spirit of pink comes to Eau Claire annually with several events throughout the community. They are designed to support and educate students and community members on the subject of breast cancer, Lustek said.

Many people simply choose to wear pink to show support for the cause. Nearly 150 pink ribbons hang in downtown
Eau Claire.

The Eau Claire Fire Department supports breast cancer awareness by wearing bright pink t-shirts with the logo ‘Firefighters care enough to wear pink.’ The idea came from the Fire Department’s union,  Captain Bryon Bensen said.

The Fire Department’s union, Chapter 47, is part of the International Association of Firefighters, which supports Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest breast cancer organization in the United States.  Eau Claire’s firefighters have an opportunity to buy the t-shirt they’ve worn to work for $10, Bensen said. That money will then be donated to the Susan G. Komen.

“Breast cancer awareness is a noble cause,” Bensen said. “It effects so many people. So many people you speak to, so many of your acquaintances, have been effected by cancer — breast cancer and cancer in general.”

While wearing the shirts was voluntary, Bensen said many Eau Claire firefighters wore the shirts Oct. 10–12. Each firefighter during a 24-hour work shift during those three days took a turn wearing the shirts.

Bensen said he decided to wear his t-shirt for personal reasons.

“My mother died from breast cancer,” Bensen said. “And my wife, Rosalie Bensen, is a survivor of breast cancer. So it’s something I’ve been touched by personally many times.”