VACAVILLE — Christine, the pink fire truck with some 1,500 messages written on its sides, was present along with representatives from the Solano Midnight Sun Foundation and Pink Lemonade in Vacaville – whose director spoke about the journey she started on Mother’s Day as a 35-year-old.
They were part of the Celebrate Women program, with health screenings and other services available Wednesday at Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center.
Words on the 1984 fire truck, donated to Pink Heals of Vacaville, include the message to “Live with courage and curiosity.” Donna Quintero, executive director of Pink Lemonade, has sought to do that.
On Mother’s Day 2008, she was in bed, eating the breakfast that her 4-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter prepared. Quintero had an itch and felt a lump. The Vacaville resident, who at age 7 lost her mother to breast cancer, had a bilateral mastectomy and, later, reconstructive surgery to replace her breasts.
“I know what a journey it is,” she said of her experience.
When she tells others about it, Quintero, 40, said, “Sometimes I see the release in people” because they know what she went through.
“We’re all here to help each other,” she said.
Midnight Sun, with a booth next to Pink Lemonade, provides temporary assistance and resources to women in the community who are affected by breast cancer.
Dr. Steve Stricker, physician in chief of Napa and Solano Kaiser Permanente, said events such as Celebrate Women help reach the health organization’s goal of all women between the ages of 40 to 70 having a mammogram every one to two years, depending on family history and other risk factors.
Seventy percent of women in the country have mammograms, while that figure reaches 85 percent among Kaiser members. The 100-percent goal runs into the resistance some women have with tests, the doctor said.
“There’s just a gap between what we know people ought to do and what they do,” Stricker said.
The Wednesday event in Vacaville is a key to reaching the mammogram goal, he said.
“They see that this is what everybody’s doing,” Stricker said. “It gives them the courage.”
Prevention is in Kaiser’s DNA, said Shannon Dever-Barkely, director of Women’s Health for Napa-Solano Kaiser Permanente.
Stricker said that pays off in improved health and lives saved.
“Most cancers, caught in time, can be cured,” he said.
Nutrition information was part of Celebrate Women. Vacaville resident Mona Lewis, at the event with her twin 11-year-old daughters Nina and Niya, had a Healthy Latino Recipes brochure.
“I was telling my mom she should check this out,” Lewis said of her mother, who was also at the event.
Michael O’Brien, fire chief for Suisun City and president of Pink Heals Solano, said the signatures and stories on the pink fire truck – named after Vacaville resident Christine Franklin, who died from breast cancer in 2011 – aren’t washed off but stay as long they can withstand the sun. One message read, “For my amazing father – the bravest man I know.”
The 1984 fire truck, donated two years ago by the city of Vacaville, goes to Celebrate Women and other events.
“It’ll just keep rolling down the road,” O’Brien said.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.