STEPHEN HEMELT — Pink Street Project brings breast cancer awareness to Orange

Published 12:28 am Sunday, October 16, 2022

Take a drive in Orange along Park Street, beginning at 10th Street and head all the way to Simmons Drive, or go from 10th Street all the way to Cordrey Avenue.

One thing surely to catch your eye are the many pink bows attached to utility poles.

It’s part of the Pink Street Project, led by the physical and mental health committee of the Orange Texas Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Pink ribbons are synonymous with breast cancer awareness, and October highlights a national spotlight on life-saving measures and early-detection techniques.

Sorority committee chairwoman Anitrea Goodwin is helping lead the awareness push in Orange.

She has been part of the sorority for approximately 25 years and is drawn to giving back because the organization is comprised of college educated women who are committed to public service with a primary emphasis on the African American community.

The Orange native said her committee of four met and decided to come up with a focus for this particular program because it is so important.

“There is a large percentage of African Americans that have breast cancer, and many of those women have difficulty accessing the health care that they need,” Goodwin said. “We wanted to bring and awareness to the community about the disease and talk about getting tested for breast cancer.”

Some Orange Texas Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. members include, from left, Anitrea Goodwin, Peggy Richard, Jasmine Keeton, Ne’sha Dailey, Mary Ekene, Keondra Thomas and Kym Celestine-Franklin. (Courtesy photo)

The issue is especially personal for Goodwin, because her mother is battling breast cancer.

“This is near and dear to my heart,” she said. “Women just need to be tested annually. During the pandemic, lots of people chose not to go into their doctors’ offices, but it is important that we do go ahead and get tested annually. It can be done easily through a series of tests, so that’s why we decided to focus on it.”

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. women, impacting one in eight women who live to the age of 80, according to Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

An estimated 287,850 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in U.S. women in 2022, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer accounts for 15 percent of all new cancer diagnoses and 7 percent of all cancer deaths each year.

African American women account for more of the breast cancer cases among women under age 45, and make up a higher percentage of triple-negative breast cancer cases, which is a less common type of the cancer, according to Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

“We did (the Pink Street Project) for the first time last year and received such positive vibes from the community,” Goodwin said. “There were many, many responses for seeing those pink ribbons along Park Street. Even as we were putting up the ribbons this year, people were waiting and letting us know that they liked what they were seeing.”

The committee’s goals are to remind neighbors about the importance of breast health while also stressing men can have it, too.

Goodwin partnered with Julie Rogers Gift of Life Program in an effort to make Orange and surrounding communities more aware of breast cancer.

“They provided me with so many brochures and information to give out in the community,” Goodwin said. “What we decided to do, as an organization, with that information was give it out to local, African American churches in our community. We have already given out all of the brochures and flyers for all the churches. That has also been very successful.”

Along with the brochures, Gift of Life provided pink wristbands that were provided to the churches.

As Goodwin says, it’s just about “awareness, awareness, awareness.”

Founded in 1994, Gift of Life Women’s Health & Breast Cancer Program
provides medically underserved women in Southeast Texas with free breast health screenings, diagnostic breast cancer tests and navigation to follow-up breast cancer treatment.

Call 409-833-3663 or email info@giftoflifebmt.org to learn more about Gift of Life’s services.

Stephen Hemelt is the publisher at Orange Newsmedia, which produces the Orange Leader and orangeleader.com. He can be reached at stephen.hemelt@orangeleader.com.