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Say the words; ask the questions
Never underestimate the power of a casual conversation or asking a simple question.
In 2007, June Mumme attended a New Mexico State University rodeo and saw Denny and Geraldine Calhoun wearing pink shirts, emblazoned with “Tough Enough to Wear Pink.”
She asked the Calhouns what it was about, and they told her how it was part of a Wrangler Jeans and National Finals Rodeo campaign to promote breast cancer awareness. The sight of rodeo cowboys wearing pink certainly drew attention.
If it could work for rodeo, June Mumme wondered, why not for an NMSU football game?
As it happened, she had a pretty good connection. She was married to the then-Aggie head football coach, Hal Mumme.
Soon on board for the project were three energetic ladies who, like June Mumme, were also breast cancer survivors: Pat Sisbarro, Laura Conniff and Magellia Boston. Boston’s husband, McKinley, was the Aggie athletics director at the time. Soon the wheels were turning.
By now you know the rest of the story, and this year will be the 10th edition of the “NMSU Aggies Are Tough Enough to Wear Pink.”
Serving as a logistical arm for TETWP’s fundraising is the longestablished Cowboys for Cancer Research, now co-chaired by the Calhouns. Since Tough Enough to Wear Pink came on line, the two entities have generated more than $4 million additional in cash and in-kind donations, and greatly accelerated cancer research within New Mexico. C4CR has established endowments at both the University of New Mexico and NMSU, enabling researchers at both institutions to make important progress in learning more about the disease and working toward new treatments and possible cures.
There’s probably no way to measure the positive impact the Pink efforts have made regarding breast cancer awareness.
Again, though, remember the power of conversation or asking a simple question.
Because of the increased awareness, more women in Las Cruces are likely to say, “Maybe I’d better have this checked out.” Or, “I think I’ll schedule a mammogram.” Or to make an appointment and ask their doctor, “Is this normal?”
For many years, this local, southern New Mexico effort has been the biggest Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign in the entire world.
The campaign has also given many survivors the courage to tell their story.
Those stories, in turn, give courage to those going through the fight.
Las Crucen Jodie York, an 18-year survivor, offers words of solace to those recently diagnosed: “It’s OK if you have breast cancer,” York said. “It’s OK if you lose a breast.”
Those are far better alternatives to losing your life, especially when you have small children, as York did when she was diagnosed.
Tara Rothwell-Clark, who is barely a oneyear survivor, also focused on her young son.
“I just knew that I was not going to let this beat me,” Clark said. “I need to be there for him. There was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to fight it and win.”
Then, after a final treatment in August 2016, Clark was able to say those words every survivor fights to say: “I am cancer free.”
Until every victim can say that, we should all continue to stay Tough Enough to Wear Pink.
Messages adorn some of the pink luminarias on the New Mexico State University campus, Monday, Oct. 17. This year is the 10th edition of the “NMSU Aggies Are Tough Enough to Wear Pink.”
BULLETIN PHOTO BY TABITHA ROSSMAN
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