There's not much that can make a woman smile like being surrounded by a crew of firefighters in uniform. But in the 2008 Survivors Calendar, local women aren't just smiling because they are posing with firefighters. They're smiling because they've won the breast cancer battle.
The 2008 Survivors Calendar, with Lodi firefighters, is the first calendar to be created by Geweke's Pink October program. The 11 featured survivors are: Theresa Larson, Pearl Malmlov, Lyn Gerard, Sally Gribado, Connie Copulos, Audrey Churchill, Marcia Fitzgerald, Virginia Seible, Cassandra Durst, Lillian "Bo" Diede and Carrie Wright.
Though they are from different stations and shifts, each firefighter pictured works for the city of Lodi.
The photos are dreamlike with a vintage feel, printed in color with some backgrounds in black-and-white or carefully faded. NewVintage photography owner Jennifer Howell, also a News-Sentinel photographer, captured each woman's personality, strength and femininity in the photographs.
Wearing an oversized E1 Lodi Engineer helmet and fireman's jacket, Miss February, Pearl Malmolv, diagnosed in August 1964, looks ready to take on anything. With her hands on her hips and standing beside firefighter Todd Wagner, Malmlov glares off the page as though she is admonishing women to run out and get a check up. No questions asked.
Miss June, Audrey Churchill, diagnosed in September of 1990, sits with her hands folded and smiling wide while firefighters Mike Gold and John Heinrich stand on opposite sides.
August's Virginia Seible, diagnosed in December 1989, stands barefoot in the street as water sprays from a fire hydrant. Firefighters stand back while she holds a heavy ax.
"Who wouldn't want to hang out with all those hunky men?" said Lyn Gerard, diagnosed in 1997, and who is featured for March with firefighter Mike Gold.
Pink October committee and board member Kelly Higgs said the program benefits local breast cancer programs with the support of community members and partners. Modeled after Yuba City's own successful program, Pink October is Geweke Auto and RV Group's nonprofit organization. In its sixth year in Lodi, Pink October is an attempt to raise breast cancer awareness with an annual survivor fashion show, the Swing Fore A Cause golf tournament at Spanos Park, denim Wednesdays, Race for Awareness and now an annual calendar. All funds go to the American Cancer Society.
Survivor Lillian "Bo" Diede, diagnosed in March 2000, has worked with Pink October since it started in Lodi. She hopes that by getting out and sharing her experiences, more women will understand the importance of getting checked early and often.
Lodi's first-ever Pink October calendar "recognizes beautiful
women who have gone through so much with their (breast cancer)
treatments," said Kimberly Higgs, Pink October committee and board
It is called Pink October because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month nationwide.
The 2008 Survivors Calendar is available now at the fire stations administrative office at 25 E. Pine St. The phone number is 333-6739. You may also order them through Higgs at 371-2275. Also contact Higgs if you are interested in displaying the calendars at your business.
The calendars are $15 each and all proceeds go to the Pink October's partner, the American Cancer Society.
- News-Sentinel staff.
Through Pink October, she has also rediscovered a sense of femininity that she says was lost after her diagnosis.
"It's a great organization that helps with self-esteem," she said. "Sometimes you don't feel so much like a woman (when you're going through the process.)"
A breast cancer survivor herself, Higgs says awareness is important for all, especially young women who don't think it could happen to them. She didn't think it could happen to her, either.
"I had a false sense of security," she said. "I did self breast exams, I had mammograms every year. I did it all."
Being the only woman in her family to have ever had breast cancer, she warns people that cancer does not discriminate. But she also says it's not the worst thing that can happen. If anything, she says it makes you reevaluate your life so that you take advantage of every moment.
On each page of the calendar, the survivors give a message of hope or offer a bit of wisdom.
Malmlov simply offers the Bible verse of 1 Corinthians 13.
Seible has learned that "Every day is a gift. Open it and enjoy."