Soapbox

Another View: New license plates would go beyond pink

Breast cancer survivor Heather Solari of Brentwood waits to speak at a press event in September to promote California’s new Pink Ribbon license plates.
Breast cancer survivor Heather Solari of Brentwood waits to speak at a press event in September to promote California’s new Pink Ribbon license plates. apayne@sacbee.com

Several years ago, I joined four other breast cancer survivors who were looking for ways to help fight the disease that had changed our lives. We wanted to do something to promote early detection and help more women and families survive this terrible disease.

Our thinking was along the same lines of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board (“With cancer, let’s think beyond pink,” Nov. 3). We wanted to make sure more money would be devoted to prevention, research, and treatment – and that this effort shouldn’t take place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Out of these discussions and sharing of stories, the “Survivor Sisters” came up with the idea of Pink Ribbon specialty license plates. With the help of then-Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, our idea blossomed into legislation that won bipartisan approval and was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

These plates featuring a pink ribbon for breast cancer are now available for California vehicles, but before they will be produced by the Department of Motor Vehicles, we need 7,500 pre-orders during the next 10 months.

Is this the “pinkification” of breast cancer? No. We know that action results from awareness. The pink ribbon is a powerful symbol, not a marketing gimmick.

In the case of the license plates, funds from their sale will be directed to the state Every Woman Counts program, which provides free clinical breast exams and mammograms to underserved women. Death rates from breast cancer have fallen dramatically in recent years, thanks in large part to advances in diagnostics and increased awareness of the importance of early and regular screenings.

But this program has routinely been slashed during budget crunches. The license plate proceeds will help sustain this critical effort in tough budget times. We have no doubt that this pink effort will save the lives of thousands of California women.

Carla Kimball is a six-year breast cancer survivor and member of the Survivor Sisters, sponsors of the “pink plate” bill. She can be contacted at carla@carlasconcoctions.com.

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