Think pink

  • Brooke Fisher<br>Enterprise editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:50am

LAKE FOREST PARK — New pink decor at Towne Centre, in the form of “Recognition Walls” to honor breast cancer victims, doesn’t exactly blend into the surroundings.

That’s the point.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, merchants at Towne Centre are bringing a focus to the disease by displaying Recognition Walls at several locations. Residents can write names of those affected by breast cancer on the Recognition Walls.

“I thought it would be nice to do something wider than just us,” said Hilary Howarth, owner of Curves, “because it is a whole community thing.”

Four Recognition Walls, made of cardboard, pink butcher paper and ribbon, are seen around the mall. Besides Curves, one is at Washington Mutual, another at Third Place Commons, and one at StyleMasters.

The idea came about after Howarth learned that Washington state has the highest rate of breast cancer in the country. She heard speculation that this is due to women in the state marrying at an older age and having children later, a better rate of documentation from health-conscious women being diagnosed and a lack of vitamin D or sunshine.

In addition to the four Recognition Walls, posters were designed for placement in merchant windows, and from Oct. 10-15 Curves waived a membership joining fee of $75 for women who have had a mammogram in the past 12 months. An event also was scheduled for the public on Oct. 18, for which Howarth asked three breast cancer survivors to share their stories.

“The whole point behind that is it adds the personal touch,” Howarth said. “It puts a face to the disease.”

Lake Forest Park resident Judy Marshall, 66, was asked to speak at the event. Marshall, a 17-year breast cancer survivor who has been a member of Curves for 2 1/2 years, underwent chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. By sharing her story, she hopes to encourage women to get a second opinion as she wasn’t diagnosed by her primary physician. She has seen the Recognition Wall at Curves.

“It is hard to miss. There are lots of names,” Marshall said. “It is neat to see.”

Members of Curves voted on a specific breast cancer charity to support, and the decision was made to donate to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Curves will also be matching the first $1,000 that is received in donations and anyone who makes a donation of $5 or more receives a pink bracelet.

Howarth was inspired to do her part for breast cancer awareness after losing an aunt to the disease in the 1960s and watching her mother also deal with a diagnosis, although she survived.

“Although there is a lot of focus on breast cancer now, it got a slow start,” Howarth said. “We are really behind in all the research.”

Karen True, executive director of Third Place Commons, said she is not aware of this level of breast cancer awareness at the mall in previous years.

“Most of us have been touched by breast cancer and Lake Forest Park is such an extraordinary community,” True said. “People really take an interest in each other, so it just seemed to make sense.”

The idea for Recognition Walls is well-received, True said, and many people have written names of people they know. The role of Friends of Third Place Commons is to support innovative ideas, True said, and help them come to fruition.

During a meeting with merchants, Howarth said business owners agreed to plan even more outreach next year during Breast Cancer Awareness month.

“This is just my idea of wanting to make it a bigger deal than just our one week free promotion that gets people out to get mammograms,” Howarth said.