Think Pink: October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Never has anything been so perfect in PINK! A collaboration of people from all walks of life are banding together in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in one united fight. This October, events include the Pink Ribbon Symposium and Pink Ribbon Symposium Survivors Celebration 5k Run/Walk on October 3; a musical concert on October 9; a “Think Pink” Motorcycle Run on October 10; and the huge annual “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk” on October 24.

For women in the United States, breast cancer death rates are higher than those of any other cancer except lung cancer. In 2015 an estimated 231, 480 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed. This fact alone tells us how critical it is for medical research into the cause of cancer to continue, along with additional emotional and financial support from organizations who share a common goal–to end breast cancer.

sylvester-280x398-280x398The first event in this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month is The Pink Ribbon Symposium, which will be held on Saturday, October 3, at the Thrasher-Horne Conference Center. Dr. Linda Sylvester, a Medical Oncologist at 21st Century Medical Center of Orange Park, is the co-founder of The Pink Ribbon Symposium (, an educational event dedicated to raising awareness on detection, treatment and survivorship of breast cancer. The event has grown since 2008 and now presents a remarkable group of guest speakers and workshops aimed at women and men. The 2015 featured speaker is Mark Heyison, Founder and President of Men Against Breast Cancer, who will speak about “Men Supporting the Women They Love in Their Fight against Breast Cancer.” After his talk, Heyison will offer a free workshop, “A Guy’s Blueprint to Caregiving,” to educate and empower men on how to be effective caregivers. Heyison’s passion to support research and education about breast cancer stems from his own life: in 1992 his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she remains today cancer-free.

At this year’s Pink Ribbon Symposium physicians and health experts will be present to share information about healthy lifestyle habits, including health and prevention, yoga techniques, and caring for our bodies. Psychological and financial factors related to treatment will be addressed. Dr. Sylvester says, “It’s important not to treat just the disease itself but all of the components that accompany the treatment of the disease, namely eye health, sexuality, depression [and] weight.” The Academy of Cosmetologists has generously donated its time and personnel to discuss solutions to hair loss.    

The Pink Ribbon Symposium has collaborated with other Breast Cancer Support organizations, including the Sisters of Hope and Jeannie Blaylock’s Buddy Check 12, whose partnering with Baptist Health Center promotes monthly breast self-examinations and educates women on the importance of early detection.

12109024_1126154560731374_2245247961606002524_nRecently, the Pink Ribbon Symposium added the Pink Ribbon Symposium Survivors Celebration 5k Run/Walk to their roster of events. This year’s Pink Ribbon Symposium will be held on Saturday, October 3, at the Thrasher-Horne Conference Center. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a silent auction of items donated by symposium supporters. Dr. Sylvester is truly grateful for the enormous support of the Pink Ribbon Symposium, and she encourages people from all backgrounds to attend and participate. As she says, “This terrible disease affects all of us.”

UNF and the Mayo Clinic are partnering to present a different approach to awareness and education through “A Musical Tribute to Breast Cancer Survivorship,” featuring “The Wild West through Movies,” performed by the UNF Wind Symphony. The free concert will be held in the University of North Florida’s Lazzara Performance Center on Friday, October 9. Thanks to the Mayo Clinic, a non-profit medical facility dedicated to research and education, the program will also present speakers including a physician and a breast cancer survivor.

Switching lanes, in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, lovers of Harley-Davidsons will ride out in support of breast cancer patients and their families at the “Think Pink” Motorcycle Run ( on Saturday, October 10, in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida.  In its seventh run, “Think Pink”  enthusiasts say it has grown in ways they could have only dreamed of. The ride is hosted by Unity Outreach, Inc., an organization that provides emotional and financial support to help improve the spiritual, physical and emotional health of men and women with breast cancer. “Their hearts are full and their mission is simple” aptly describes the members of Unity Outreach.

Everyone knows of The American Cancer Society, a giant in the fight against and research for finding a cure for cancer. This year the Society’s famous “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk” will occur on Saturday, October 24, beginning at the Jacksonville Landing. Nationally, over one-million participants walk each year to help end Breast Cancer. The three-mile trek honors and celebrates breast cancer survivors, raises awareness about breast cancer research, and contributes to patient support programs offered here in Jacksonville and around the world. Allison Gubitz encourages potential volunteers to learn more and/or register for the Walk at

These organizations, as well as many others not mentioned here, display PINK with pride. The Pink Ribbon is more than pretty. It signifies strength in numbers. It stands for dedication to a movement that will cause us to laugh, cry and fight together. It represents a never-ending quest to eradicate a devastating disease that unites patients, families, friends and survivors who are linked by a commonality. For all of those who go that extra mile to show we care by giving selflessly, one thing is certain. The bounds of love and support will never be in the red, and those who are fighting to survive are not alone. Instead they are surrounded by people who help them not feel blue. So PINK it is . . . it’s perfect, and that makes all the difference in the world.


About Lisa Acker