In October, public safety officers around Southern California will be “thinking pink” as they swap out their regular uniform patches for bright pink versions for breast cancer awareness.
The Pink Patch Project
began in 2015 as a partnership between the Irwindale Police Department and City of Hope and has since spread to law-enforcement agencies across the Southland.
The public awareness campaign is designed to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer and to raise funds to support cancer research organizations in combating this devastating disease.
“Pink Patch” refers to vibrant pink versions of public safety officers’ uniform patches. These bright pink patches have been specially designed by each participating agency for the Pink Patch Project campaign. Each year, officers at each of the participating agencies wear the pink patches on their regular uniforms for the entire month of October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Pink Patch Project’s goal is to increase awareness about the lifesaving benefits of early detection and intervention in the fight against breast cancer. It also raises funds from the sale of Pink Patch Project items (T-shirts, lapel pins, challenge coins, etc.) to go directly to fund the research, treatment and education needed to help find a cure.
The Pink Patch Project is a collaborative effort between the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs' Association and public safety agencies throughout the county and beyond. Each public safety agency collaborating in the Pink Patch Project campaign has partnered with a cancer research organization or support group in their respective community.
Although it originated in Southern California, it is quickly becoming a national and international initiative. Today, more than 80 agencies in Southern California actively participate.
Laura Kruper, M.D., is flanked by Michele Dahlstein (right), and Michele's husband, a member of the Pasadena Police Department
Michele Dahlstein, 53, a kindergarten teacher from Upland, California, was treated for breast cancer
at City of Hope in 2014 and now is involved with the Pink Patch Project as a speaker.
Before 2014, the wife and mother of two adult sons and grandmother to a 4-year-old granddaughter said she and her family “led pretty regular lives with school, work and family time.
Because of her family history (both grandmothers had breast cancer), she had received yearly mammograms since age 30. In August 2014, her mammogram appointment at City of Hope’s Women’s Health Center prompted a rescreening and a biopsy.
A few days later, her doctor called with the results. “He said, ‘You have Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma,’” she recalled. “I don’t remember much more of the conversation that followed.”
Dahlstein received this news just two days before the first day of kindergarten and two days before her 50th birthday.
“In less than 24 hours I’d have 25 5-year-olds and their parents coming to my classroom to meet me for kindergarten orientation. How was I going to pull this off? How was I going to tell my husband?” she wondered.
Dr. Kruper looked me right in the eye and said, ‘You’re going to be OK.’ Instantly a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and I knew I was in the right place,” she said.
Dahlstein’s treatment consisted of a double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction, physical therapy and four rounds of chemotherapy from a team of City of Hope doctors over the course of four months. She has now been cancer-free for almost three years “and back to leading a normal, happy life.” She returned to teaching a few months after her treatment concluded, is traveling, preparing for her son’s wedding this month and spending time with her family and her granddaughter. “Life is good!” she said.
The Pink Patch Project’s goal is to ensure that all of the one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer have an outcome as positive as Dahlstein’s.
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