SYCAMORE – There were more smiles than tears Thursday as hundreds of Sycamore residents turned out downtown to support breast cancer patients and survivors.
The evening gathering was a part of Ladies Night Out, an annual event in which Sycamore-area vendors, business and nonprofit organizations raise money for breast cancer awareness and prevention. This year marked the celebration’s 15th year.
The downtown sidewalks along State Street were filled with pink-clothed residents, and shouts of joy could be heard all around. Somonauk resident Sandra Labak said the hundreds of people who came out are a testament that there is still good in the world.
“Just seeing this and acknowledging the number of supporters is encouraging,” Labak said.
Labak’s mother survived breast cancer but died in 2017 from lymphoma. She and her family paid tribute to her mother by signing a message on “Diane,” the pink fire truck that has become a staple of the event since last year. The truck was covered with messages such as “Stage 3 Survivor!” and “Miss you. Wish you were here,” among others.
Tri-Cities Pink Heals, the organization that owns “Diane,” raises money for people living with any type of cancer. President Jessica Parthun said her team of volunteers takes the fire truck to visit those who have been recently diagnosed or who have survived cancer.
“We’ll go out and contact their local police and fire departments to come out with us, and we go lights and siren,” Parthun said. “It’s like a big parade.”
Pink Heals raised more than $200 Thursday and was one of the dozens of organizations and vendors who lined the sidewalks and streets.
One vendor, Sycamore-based artist Marilyn Hrymak, sold her paintings that she said helped her throughout her battle with breast cancer.
“It’s a way for me to express my feelings,” said Hrymak, who had several cancer-related operations last year.
Breast cancer claims the lives of 41,000 women and 450 men every year, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data from the same agency shows DeKalb County breast cancer screening rates have fallen 10% below the state and national average.
Northwestern Medicine started construction on a breast health clinic in Kishwaukee Hospital’s Medical Office building, at 1 Kish Hospital Drive, to combat low screening rates. The center is scheduled to open by mid-October for Breast Cancer Awareness month.