SPRINGFIELD, Va. — When recreational boats break down on the water and needed help getting home, the red boats of the TowBoatUS towing fleet responded more than 90,000 times last year. For the month of October, however, five red towboats across the United States are going pink to bring the issue of Breast Cancer Awareness to the water.
“It is a rare moment to see a pink boat on the water, let alone one that you have called to assist you with a routine breakdown,” said BoatUS Vice President of Towing Services, John Condon. “We want to use our boats to bring a message of education and awareness of this disease to those on the water to help save lives and find a cure. It has caused so much pain and anguish, not only within our fleet but for our members as well.”
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The on-water recreational boat towing service from Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) encourages boaters to donate to the Susan G. Komen organization, which supports research, community health, and global outreach and public policy initiatives in order to make the biggest impact against this disease. Susan G. Komen offers a list of breast warning cancer signs and symptoms for women and men here.
The five local TowBoatUS companies that are running pink boats in October include TowBoatUS Long Beach, California; TowBoatUS Port Isabel, Texas; TowBoatUS Baltimore/Annapolis, Maryland; TowBoatUS Lake Wylie, South Carolina; and TowBoatUS Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The response vessels range in size from 20 to 31 feet. Each TowBoatUS company is also supporting local outreach efforts such as participating with their pink towboats in parades, fundraising at local boat shows, and getting the message out in their local communities.
For TowBoatUS Annapolis/Baltimore captain Michael Booher, this initiative hits close to home. “Breast cancer took my mother’s life,” said Booher, who will be piloting the company’s pink boat. “My grandmother fought and won her battle. My sister took precautions by getting a double mastectomy. That’s three generations of my own family affected by the disease. I have a personal mission to make sure people are thinking about how to prevent breast cancer.”
When Lou Ann Strader of TowBoatUS Port Isabel in Texas heard about the company’s initiative to bring awareness of breast cancer to local communities, she jumped at the opportunity to be involved. Her grandmother died from the disease in 1992. “I lost so many memories we would have had together, and that weighs on me,” Strader said. “I want people to remember that it’s not just the disease they are fighting, but the mental health problems that can come with it. When our towboat becomes pink, it becomes a vessel that could save lives through education of all different aspects of the disease.”
To help boaters learn more about the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips:
- Keeping a healthy weight, exercise, limiting or staying away from alcohol and breastfeeding are some ways are some ways to reduce to the risk of breast cancer.
- Women should consult their health care provider to make an informed and shared decisions on screening options. Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early when it’s easiest to treat.
- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women who are 50 to 74 years old and are at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every two years. Women who are 40 to 49 years old should talk to their doctor or other health care professional about when to start and how often to get a mammogram. Women should weigh the benefits and risks of screening tests when deciding whether to begin getting mammograms before age 50.