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Womens cancer awareness event draws in hundreds
cancer event pic1
A procession honoring cancer survivors was held at Emanuel Medical Centers 16th annual Cancer Awareness Night Out, where hundreds of community members and cancer survivors joined together to celebrate courage. - photo by CARA HALLAM / The Journal

Courage is a beautiful thing, as are the women who demonstrate it during their battles with cancer. On Tuesday evening, hundreds of these women joined together to celebrate their courage and offer encouragement to those affected by the disease.

During Emanuel Medical Center’s 16th annual Women’s Cancer Awareness Night Out, approximately 700 community members and cancer survivors united to recognize those affected by cancer and to stress the importance of being vigilant of the risk of cancer in one’s own life.

“Each one of us needs to become a mammogram crusader in our own circles,” said Sharokina Shams, a Turlock native and reporter for KCRA Channel 3 News. “Beauty abounds in each and every cancer survivor. Tonight we celebrate the courage to fight and take charge of your health.”

Although the Turlock Fire Department has participated in the event for two consecutive years now, this year’s event featured the first-ever Pink Helmet Award – a prestigious award given to a person affected by cancer who exhibits the characteristics of courage, bravery and commitment.

“We received many nominations and every single one of them touched our hearts,” said Turlock Fire Captain Frank Saldivar. “We had a very difficult time selecting just one because the truth is, every one of the nominations exhibited these characteristics.”

After much consideration of all the nominees, the inaugural Pink Helmet Award was awarded to 21-year-old Aimee Kinsfater – a young mother-to-be who served as her grandmother's full time caregiver while she battled lung cancer for over a year.

“Her grandmother, Rosie Ramirez, was a two-time breast cancer survivor and recently battled lung cancer,” explained Saldivar. “And while Rosie went home to be with the Lord last week, she did so surrounded by the love, bravery, courage and support from her granddaughter.”

According to Saldivar, the decision to award Kinsfater came after realizing how special it was to see a young person give her heart for someone much older.

“For those of you in your 20s that are with us tonight, we encourage you to look to this recipient as a role model of just how grandchildren should love, respect and care for their grandparents,” said Saldivar.

Kinsfater, who was surprised by the award, offered words of encouragement to those battling cancer.

“I was not expecting this at all,” said Kinsfater. “To those battling cancer currently, keep up the fight and stay strong.”

The featured speaker for the evening, Miss District of Columbia 2012 Allyn Rose, shared her story of having a prophylactic double mastectomy after losing her mother to breast cancer at the age of 16. Rose made the decision as a preventive measure, and has since continued to be a preventive healthcare advocate.

“It was a difficult decision as someone who has been defined by beauty,” said Rose, recalling her decision to have both breasts removed after having participated in many beauty pageants. “Society tells us that to be feminine and to be beautiful, you need breasts. But I wanted to redefine the importance of breasts. Because to me, being beautiful and feminine means being able to be a mom one day and to be a wife.”

The event also featured the U.S. premiere of 13-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter Capri Ruberto Anderson’s music video for her hit song “Hope” which she performed live onstage. Capri wrote the song “Hope” at the age of 12 after learning her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother also joined her onstage during the event.

Several women from the audience ended the evening by taking a pledge to go in for a mammogram after never having had one before. These women were awarded for their commitment to their health with a pink Coach purse.

“It’s important to know your family history, and to take the measures necessary to prevent the risk of cancer,” said Rose. “And most importantly, remember to let your beautiful courage shine.”