What you can wear, what you can do to support breast cancer awareness

A human pink ribbon in Turlock

At the Valley Milk plant under construction on North Washington, about 440 people don hard hats to form a giant pink ribbon to raise breast cancer awareness. Deke Farrow/
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At the Valley Milk plant under construction on North Washington, about 440 people don hard hats to form a giant pink ribbon to raise breast cancer awareness. Deke Farrow/

More than 400 men and women donned pink hard hats and formed a giant ribbon in Turlock this week in an event that raised money and awareness to combat breast cancer.

Not all of us can rock the hard-hat look, but as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins Sunday, there are opportunities to show support through purchases of T-shirts, patches and even lemonade.

There also a couple of annual events — the Emanuel Cancer Center Women’s Cancer Awareness Night Out in Turlock and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Modesto — coming up.

The formation of "Turlock's First Hard Hat Pink Ribbon" was Wednesday at the site of the Valley Milk LLC plant under construction on North Washington Road. It included a $40,000 donation to the Bill & Elsie Ahlem Cancer Endowment at Emanuel Cancer Center.

Employees of Valley Milk and the plant's contractor, EMCOR/Shambaugh & Son, heard from company executives and representatives of Emanuel Cancer Center and the city of Turlock before putting on their pink hard hats to form a pink ribbon outside the plant.

This is the ninth year EMCOR has formed pink hard hat ribbons across the country, said Paul Meyers Jr., president and CEO of EMCOR/Shambaugh & Son. "Once we began these pink hard hat events, people came forward to tell us that, because of events like this, they did get that early screening and they were able to recognize that they did have cancer early," he told the crowd. "And because of that step, they were able to begin their treatments early and in time."

Michael Iltis, executive director of Emanuel Cancer Center, said more than a quarter million men and women have been dagnosed with breast cancer this year. Over 40,000 will die, he said, but there now are more than 3 million breast cancer survivors. "And the number keeps growing, he said. "Early detection is causing longer, longer lives."

Speaking on behalf of the city was Vice Mayor Bill DeHart. "If I delivered anything of value today, it would be this: It does happen, cancer does happen. It does not care who you are, where you've come from, how long you've lived here, if you're a man, if you're a woman, if you're a child, if you're an old guy like me, it doesn't matter. So how do you combat that? I would say a lifestyle, number one. Number two, early detection. Test yourself, have yourself tested professionally if you suspect."

The pink ribbon is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness. To promote the cause, and raise money to support cancer research and programs, several local fire and law enforcement departments are selling special T-shirts and patches.

  • Modesto City Firefighter's Local 1289 is selling department duty shirts with pink ribbons. There's a limited supply in various styles and sizes, all priced at $20. Shirts can be ordered at
  • The Turlock Fire Department has pink shirts available for $15 at its administration office, 244 N. Broadway, and at the Emanuel Medical Center gift shop.
  • The Oakdale Police Department and the nonprofit support group Blue Line Wives are selling patches for $10. They are available in limited supply at the Police Department and various community events through Oct. 31. Proceeds benefit Memorial Hospital Foundation cancer services.

  • The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department K-9 Association will sell patches at the Peace Officer Memorial Run on Sunday morning in downtown Modesto. The event begins at 6:45 a.m. in front of the Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St. Proceeds from the sales are being donated to the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.

The Making Strides 3-mile walk is set for Oct. 15 in front of the Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St. Registration is at 7:30 a.m., the walk at 8:30 a.m. Registration also can be done online at

In Turlock, Emanuel Cancer Center’s annual Women’s Cancer Awareness Night Out is Oct. 17 at Monte Vista Chapel, 1619 E. Monte Vista Ave. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The formal program begins at 7 p.m. with a procession of cancer survivors.

Free tickets are limited to two per person and must be reserved in advance. Reservations can be made at or by calling 855-819-5294.

The emcee will be Dr. Mikhail "Doctor Mike" Varshavski, a social media entrepreneur, philanthropist and New York-based doctor focusing on family and preventative medicine.

Emanuel refers to him as an Internet sensation and People Magazine’s “Sexiest Doctor Alive.”

Also appearing at the event will be Caly Bevier, “America’s Got Talent” 2016 semifinalist.

Another way to support the fight against cancer is buying from Modesto Certified Farmers Market vendor Lemon Up on Oct. 5 and 7. That Thursday and Saturday, the market vendor of natural lemonade, iced teas, snow cones and fresh-squeezed orange juice will donate all its proceeds to the American Cancer Society.