GET PINK: Firefighters spread hope and love to breast cancer patients, survivors
PONCA CITY, Okla. (KOKH) —
Firefighters in Ponca City are spreading love to breast cancer patients and survivors.
The group, better known as Pink Heals, provides support for women, children and men who are battling cancer and other illnesses.
First responders, dressed in pink, take breaks from fighting fires to extinguish the pain for those battling cancer and other health issues.
"The one thing that we bring, you can't buy is the love and hope," said Pink Heals Firefighter David VanBuskirk. "It's a little ray of sunshine that brightens their spirit and keeps them pushing through this."
Pink Heals firefighters recently did a "home visit" for a stage 3C breast cancer survivor.
"Patients or the person knows that we are coming, but they don't know what to expect," VanBuskirk said.
The firefighters were dispatched to Stephanie Krenn's home. The mother of three is recovering from reconstructive surgery. The group has one mission, to make her feel at ease with a simple gesture.
"When you show up here it's almost like your first one, and your excited your hearts racing," VanBuskirk said.
Krenn was greeted with flowers, hugs and words of encouragement.
"It's wonderful that they would care enough to come
and to see me, and to wish me well and it's just a great blessing," Krenn said. "Each hug is a little bit more love and I think that's a wonderful feeling."
Krenn sighed the groups famous pink truck. The truck is filled with stories and signatures from cancer patients and their loved ones.
"This is the most adorable thing I think we have experienced so far...Such a blessing and I'm just so thankful that we've come through this stronger as a family," Krenn said.
Vanbuskirk says that over time signatures often fade, but they're never forgotten.
"Signatures actually fades into the heart of the truck. So it's always with the truck where it travels," VanBuskirk said.
The group has gone to a number of home visits, each with their own unique story, but they can agree the hardest part is the reality that every person they encounter may not make it through their battle.
"To open the paper and see their name in the paper because they passed away after fighting a hard battle, it's tough but on the same hand we know that maybe our love and hope keep them fighting just a little bit longer for their families," VanBuskirk said.
The pink truck has had its own share of battles. It was one of the first trucks to respond to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995. Pink Heals is a national non-profit founded by retired firefighter Dave Graybill in 2007. All donations go directly to the community each chapter serves.