BISHOP, Texas — For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Bishop Police Department decided to do something unique to raise awareness and support those in the community who have dealt with the disease; a pink wrapped squad car.
“We wanted to be unique in what we do. Other law enforcement agencies have turned their patches pink, have worn pink shirts. We wanted something that stands out and shows we support cancer survivors, and those who are still in the fight,” said Bishop Police Chief Edward Day.
Driving that car this month is Lt. Diana Leal, who volunteered to drive the car.
“I just felt that I needed to do this, because it’s something that I believe in, that I’m hoping for a cure,” she said.
Leal has a personal connection with the cause; her family is all too familiar with the devastating effects of cancer.
“My uncle, he had a tumor in his head, which had traveled all the way. They did chemo for a couple of months, and they told him it wasn’t working and there was nothing they could do,” she said. “Within a month, he was gone.”
Around six months after her uncle’s passing, his wife, Leal’s aunt, had a cyst on her arm diagnosed as cancerous.
“She saw what her husband went through, and she said, ‘I’m not [getting chemotherapy],’ and within three months she was gone too,” she said.
That’s not the only impact cancer has had on Leal. While her uncle was fighting his cancer, she was fighting her own.
“At the same time my uncle was in the hospital, I was in the hospital, because they noticed a spot on my kidney, and they did a biopsy, and they said it’s cancer,” she said.
In about a year’s time, six members of Leal’s family had a cancer diagnosis of their own. Along with herself, her aunt, and her uncle, Leal’s sister and two cousins also fought the disease. One cousin fought breast cancer, and had a mastectomy.
“It just hit our family within that year, just all of us. It was a little devastating, that we lost two family members, but the other four of us are doing okay,” Leal said. “Every time that October comes around, we reminisce and we remember.”
Leal is approaching ten years cancer free. She still gets check-ups every year as a precaution, and is proud to spend the month of October driving around Bishop in the pink wrapped car.
“I know there are people who support us 100%, and they appreciate everything that we do for them. It makes me happy that we’re making progress here, and we’re impacting people,” she said.
Chief Day said there has been an outpouring of support for the wrapped car on social media, but there were some concerns about taxpayer money going towards the project. He said no taxpayer funds were put towards getting the decals, which were provided by Gulf Coast Graphics and Signs. He said the decals were 100 percent purchased using "drug forfeiture funds".
Chief Day said it is important for BPD to show support to the community and raise awareness.
“If seeing that unit drive by makes one person think, ‘hey let me go get checked out,’ and that saves their lives, it’s completely worth everything we’ve done,” he said.
Every year, nearly 270,000 women and more than 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
The month of October goes pink each year to bring awareness and support to finding a cure.
For the third year in a row, our own Paulo Salazar serves as an ambassador for Real Men Wear Pink.
Go to KRIS6cares.com or click on this link to my donation page to show your support.