Cover Story
Community members gathered at the Salt River Fitness Center on Tuesday, October 13, to honor breast cancer survivors and those who lost their battle to breast cancer.
Pink Warriors Empower Community During Breast Cancer Awareness Month
By Sheila Begay
Au-Authm Action News

Imagine yourself in a room with eight women you love. They can include your wife, grandmother, mother, sisters, aunts, daughters and friends. According to, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. That means of the eight women you visually placed in that room, one of them will develop breast cancer.

In 1985, October was declared National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For 30 years now, major breast cancer charities have organized a health campaign every October to increase awareness of breast cancer and to help raise funds for those affected by it.

According to the Intercultural Cancer Council, only 1 in 10 American Indian/Alaska Native women 40 years and older reported never having had a mammogram. Early detection is key. Recently, Indian Country has stepped up to the plate to show support for those currently suffering or those who have beat breast cancer and survived. They are referred to as our Pink Warriors!

Breast Cancer Awareness at Salt River
This year, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community showed its support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and for those who are affected by breast cancer by hosting various events throughout the Community.

Some of the events included a Light the Night mile walk, a door-decorating contest, a Zumba event and a “Pink Out,” where everyone in the Community wore pink to show their support.

Light the Night Mile Walk
On Tuesday, October 13, the SRPMIC Clinical Health Services, Diabetes Program–Fitness and Human Resources Department hosted a night walk around the Two Waters complex to show support for those affected by breast cancer. This year, the walk gained 64 registered participants.

“The Community Breast Cancer Awareness Walk gives breast cancer survivors and those who have lost family members/friends the opportunity to share their stories and let the Community know there is a cancer support group here in Salt River,” said Senior Physical Fitness Specialist Rachel Seepie.

“We hope the walks will bring more awareness that women, and even men, should be doing breast self-exams every month at home plus getting yearly exams with their health provider.”

Exercise can also reduce the risk of developing breast cancer and lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Seepie added, “Regular exercise is important to your health. [Try to] walk every day at a moderate intensity for 20 minutes or more.”

Door Decorating Contest
This year was the first time SRPMIC has held a Breast Cancer Awareness Door Decorating Contest. The contest attracted 28 contestants and was open to all tribal government departments. The contestants had a week to decorate with judging taking place on Friday, October 9.

“I was very excited about the amount of response we received … because we weren’t sure what type of response we would receive,” said contest coordinator Julie Sepulveda. “The amount of time and detail that [went into] each door was unbelievable. It even made me emotional at times, because it showed me how much people are affected by [breast cancer]. It brought me joy to see how important it was for these participants to get the awareness out there. Everybody did an awesome job.”

Sepulveda thought the door decorating contest enhanced awareness and was a great project for the Community. “Most of these doors were visible to the Community members receiving services—they were able to see the door’s detail and message and asked what it was about. Others were glad to see that something like this was going on because breast cancer had affected them in some way or another,” she added.

This year’s contest winners were:

First Place: ECEC Eagles Classroom (Dr. Seuss theme)

Second Place: HHS Prevention and Intervention Services (Statistical theme)

Third Place: Recreation Department (‘Fight Like a Girl’ theme)

“Our vision is to see our breast cancer activities getting bigger and bigger every year and reaching out to the entire Community. I feel that any little bit helps, and we will continue to do our part to make sure the awareness reaches our people,” said Sepulveda.

“Pink Out” Day and Zumbathon
On Friday, October 23, the SRPMIC Human Resources and Social Services departments hosted “Pink Out” Day at the Two Waters Complex. Community members and tribal employees filled the courtyard with pink as they danced to Zumba music and united to show their support for those affected by breast cancer.

Community members and tribal employees were encouraged to show up in their best pink outfits to win a $50 gift card. This year, Stacie Anderson from Education won best dressed.

Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation at to create an early-detection plan, to find information and videos to help educate yourself and others, and to find out about local fundraisers.

For more information on the Salt River Cancer Support Group meeting days and time, contact Deborah Robinson or Melinda Thomas from the Clinical Health Staff at (480) 362-5555.

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