When Santa Ana Police Dispatcher Grizelda Cisneros agreed five years ago to oversee the Pink Patch Project for her department, she had no idea breast cancer awareness would be an issue that would hit so close to home.
Originating in 2013 when Seal Beach Police Department personnel wore pink patches on their uniforms during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), the Pink Patch Project raises money for breast cancer research and brings attention to the disease.
Cisneros manages the campaign for the Santa Ana Police Department, selling patches, along with pins, t-shirts, and other items and then donating the proceeds to Breast Cancer Solutions, an Orange County nonprofit that provides financial assistance to help cover costs of housing, transportation and out-of-pocket expenses incurred during treatment.
Personnel also wore the patches on their uniforms during the month of October.
During the year the department was considering approval of the Pink Patch Project, Cisneros’ manager, along with a friend on her softball team, both died from breast cancer.
“It took on a different meaning,” Cisneros said. “It has new purpose for me now.”
Over the past five years, Santa Ana Police Department’s Pink Patch Project has raised more than $30,000, and most of the money has been given to Breast Cancer Solutions.
Cisneros is hoping the campaign makes $10,000 this year.
“I grew up in this city,” Cisneros said. “So, it’s more than just giving back. It’s giving back to the community I grew up in.”
Throughout the five years she has been selling items for the Pink Patch Project, Cisneros has also heard stories from many coworkers who were supporting the campaign because they have a friend or relative impacted by breast cancer.
“I’m honored to hear their stories when people share with me,” she said. “They are all very touching.”
Cisneros gets the word out through internal media, social networking, and through Breast Cancer Solutions’ website.
Officers wearing the pink patch on their uniforms also get noticed.
“We get a lot of exposure out in the field,” Motor Officer Kanan Blake said. “Everybody sees the patches.”
Autumn Plimmer, who is records specialist in the Santa Ana Police Department jail, has been impacted by breast cancer within her own family.
Plimmer’s mother is a survivor of stage 3 breast cancer and has endured two surgeries and 14 rounds of chemotherapy. And Plimmer’s aunt has had stage 4 breast cancer for 11 years.
Though only in her 20s, Plimmer gets mammograms annually.
“I’d like more women to get access to wigs, the bras they have to wear, and rides to doctors,” said Plimmer, when asked she would like to see resources go.
Parking Control Officer Rachel Amezquita is a cancer survivor.
Amezquita would like to see fundraising efforts channeled toward people who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer to provide resources on where to go for help.
“When I went through all this, I was blind,” said Amezquita, who’s been with the department for 23 years. “I didn’t know what to do or where to go or what was going to be the outcome.”
Even though Breast Cancer Awareness Month has passed, fundraising hasn’t stopped, Cisneros said.
Anyone wanting to donate can do so through Breast Cancer Solutions.
For more information, visit breastcancersolutions.org.