A Tri-Cities landmark is once again getting a temporary makeover in the name of ovarian cancer awareness. The cable bridge will be lit up in teal from Aug. 28 through September.
Ovarian Cancer Together, a local support and advocacy group, successfully raised money and secured clearance to light up the bridge in teal last year.
"I think it really made an impact on people in the Tri-Cities," said Kay Kerbyson, the group's founder, noting the cable bridge is a local icon and seeing it glowing in teal prompted questions and the chance to talk about ovarian cancer.
Like pink with breast cancer, teal is the color associated with ovarian cancer. September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
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Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecologic cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates about 21,980 women in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed this year and about 14,270 women will die from the disease. The five-year survival rate is high when the cancer is caught early, but many cases aren't until it's in the more advanced stages.
"Awareness is the cure at this moment. That's why we need to get this awareness out, that's why we need women to know the symptoms, to get diagnosed early," said Kerbyson, 47, of West Richland, who herself is in the midst of another recurrence of ovarian cancer.
She first was diagnosed eight years ago.
To kick off the bridge lighting, a Cheers and Tears event is planned Aug. 28 at Clover Island Inn in Kennewick. It will include a celebration of ovarian cancer survivors, and names of women who've died from the disease will be read in tribute. The bridge will be lit in memory of Cathy Morris, a longtime Tri-City resident and founding member of Ovarian Cancer Together, who died in May after battling ovarian cancer for 12-plus years.
Morris was buoyed by support she found in the group and she also provided support to others.
"One thing that Mom felt really good about was talking to people who'd just been diagnosed and helping them -- being a person they could call and talk to about what they were going through," said Karen Miller, one of her daughters.
It was beautiful when the bridge glowed in teal light last year, Miller said, adding that her mom was glad to see it happen to raise awareness about the disease. Miller and her sister, sister-in-law, aunt and uncle and other loved ones will be at this year's bridge lighting in honor of Morris.
New lights won't be installed to make the bridge spanning the Columbia River turn temporarily teal. Instead, just like last year, workers from the state Department of Transportation will place tinted plexiglass covers over dozens of decorative lights, Kerbyson said. Ovarian Cancer Together is footing the bill for the project, which totals about $4,000, and is collecting donations to help. To donate, go to www.ovariancancertogether.org or mail a check to Ovarian Cancer Together at PO Box 4802, West Richland, WA 99353.
The Cheers and Tears event starts at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28. To submit a name of a loved one who's died from ovarian cancer, e-mail Kerbyson at email@example.com or call 505-603-7878.
Ovarian Cancer Together also is holding a Teal to Toe Walk on Sept. 13 at Columbia Point in Richland. Details are on the group's website.
-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald