BERLIN — It’s autumn and while the leaves may be turning brown and gold, Berlin is gearing up to go pink.
Paint the Town Pink (PTTP) is now in its third year in Berlin, and is one of a slew of projects Women Supporting Women (WSW), a local non-profit aimed at breast cancer awareness, conducts during the month of October.
“The town seems to be very much behind Women Supporting Women,” said WSW representative Mary Henderson.
Though this year’s town transformation is expected to be similar to years past, Henderson said that there will be an addition or two. For example, the store “Sisters” in downtown Berlin will be having a guest bartending night on Oct. 5 from 6-8 p.m., benefiting WSW. Henderson confirmed that State Senator Jim Mathias (D-38B) has been selected as WSW’s guest bartender.
Mathias, who lost his wife Kathy to cancer in August of 2011, has been an aggressive advocate for breast cancer awareness for decades and said this week that events like Paint the Town Pink are the driving force behind the fight against the illness.
“By these events, we’re able to fund research,” he said, adding that they also help provide the immediate support WSW is known for.
Even before his wife’s diagnosis, Mathias revealed that the pair were already staunch supporters of awareness groups and that her struggle with cancer and eventual passing has only served to increase that determination.
“I pledged to her that I would carry on, in a healthy way, the fight … I promised that I would be a bridge,” said Mathias, who also spoke of the profound affect her battle had on the couple’s two children, causing them to also dedicate themselves to awareness.
With groups like WSW at the forefront, Mathias asserted that cancer, especially breast cancer, has finally become less devastating than in years past.
“We’ve move this from a reality to a hope,” he said.
Paint the Town Pink will also include the traditional candlelight vigil, which is scheduled for Oct. 12 this year.
Due to “Rocktober Fest,” a new town event, being held on the same night, Oct. 12, Henderson admitted that the actual walk leading up to the vigil will be shorter than first anticipated. However, she said that WSW will invite any member of Rocktober’s event audience interested to participate in the vigil.
“The more people I talk to it seems that everybody knows somebody [with breast cancer],” she said.
While the vigil is one of the most memorable of the activities during October, Henderson noted that it is bolstered by many, many more events from special sales at local shops to unique outings like a day of kayaking later in the month.
“October is such a very busy month for us,” she said.
The main thing Henderson hopes people take away from all of the activities, though, is that while October is breast cancer awareness month, people need to be focused every day of the year.
“Cancer is 365 days a year,” she said, “not just in October.”
Henderson stressed the need for regular mammograms and monthly self-exams, even men should self-check. For those already diagnosed, she recommended visiting WSW where people going through similar experiences can meet.
“We are here; we have support groups,” she said, adding that the groups aren’t there to drown people in pity but are instead very “uplifting.”
If someone wants to have an individual meeting and avoid the group setting, Henderson promised that WSW could do that as well.
For more information, contact the Berlin branch of WSW at 410-641-2849 or visit www.womensupportingwomen.org