Bec Matthews is raising the bar in her campaign to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research.
Last year, 1,200 ‘Paint the Town Pink’ lawn signs were sold in a two-week span, and a $13,800 donation was made to the Canadian Cancer Society during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Rebranding her campaign to ‘Pink the Towns,’ Matthews, from Dorchester, would like to see the initiative spread across the province. Pink the Towns has a goal of selling 5,000 biodegradable lawn signs in 2021 and will the donate proceeds to breast cancer awareness and research related initiatives.
Lawn signs ($20) and door hangers ($5) can be pre-ordered through the website pinkthetowns.ca until the end of June, with pick-up (lawn signs) and mail delivery (door hangers) in August and September 2020, to have them ready for use in October.
Pink the Towns merchandise, including T-shirts, sweaters, and toques, will soon be available on the website.
“You pick up your sign in September, and in the month of October people put their signs out,” said Matthews. “Last year we also had people painting pink pumpkins, putting pink ribbons and balloons out, streamers, and decorating with pink lights.”
Pre-ordering signs now will give Matthews time to process orders and organize pickup locations.
“When you order a sign on the website, you register, and there is an area that says, ‘Will you volunteer?’ And we have all kinds of people, a lot of breast cancer survivors, a lot of people who have lost family to breast cancer, who have stepped up to the plate.
“This year, we know it’s going to be chaotic, we know it’s going to be hectic. But right now is the time where we know people are going to reach out to us. We know there are people out there who are going to say, ‘I am willing to take care of Tillsonburg,’ or ‘I am willing to take care of Aylmer or Simcoe.’ As the years go on, we’re going to try to turn the province pink in October.
“This is something I came up with because I wanted to help other people. I have a son and daughter, and I don’t want to see these young people going through breast cancer. I don’t want them to go through what I went through, ever. So if Pinking the Towns in October saves one life, then it’s done its job. If it saves multiple lives, then it’s really done its job.”
The campaign spread into communities as far away as Georgian Bay and Ottawa last year.
“It was quite the scene… and that is where the awareness comes in because one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That number is staggering and it needs to change.”
Breast cancer can also affect men, she noted.
Matthews, 48, a Stage 3 cancer fighter who had three different types of breast cancer, underwent 18 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation, and a double mastectomy, says breast cancer awareness and early detection is critical.
“If we can catch it early, then it’s a lot less treatment. The biggest part is getting the word out. I have talked to all kinds of women – thousands of women – and they all have the same story. ‘Well, we didn’t check our breasts’ or ‘We don’t.’ So the first of every month I’ll go on my Facebook page and ask, ‘Have you checked your breasts today? Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Do it today. This is how you do it… and it’s important.’
“They call it the silent killer for a reason because it sneaks up.”