State Patrol’s pink car raises awareness of breast cancer

Clutching her chemotherapy line, Ginny Bergen of Montrose signs the Colorado State Patrol’s breast cancer awareness patrol car at Grand Valley Oncology on Friday. Bergen, a retired Fruitvale Elementary school principal, is battling a rare ovarian-type cancer for the third time and was undergoing a round of chemotherapy at the center. Watching Gergen is Colorado State Patrol Trooper Dan Chermok.

It’s been about a year and a half since Melissa Cannell was diagnosed with breast cancer, the same disease that took her grandmother in 1997.

Cannell was lucky, though, being diagnosed with no evidence of disease after treatment. But she also understands the importance of awareness and early detection, which is why she jumped at the chance to help out Friday by participating in a ride-along with the Colorado State Patrol in a pink patrol car, decorated for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

“It’s pretty cool they can do this and bring awareness,” Cannell said. “It’s a powerful thing to do.”

Cannell met with Colorado State Patrol public information officer Dan Chermok at 7 a.m. Friday and rode in the pink patrol vehicle as they helped out at a rollover accident in De Beque. She also sat by as Chermok wrote some traffic tickets.

She said she saw people take notice and even some pictures of the car as she and Chermok drove around the area.

The morning finished at Grand Valley Oncology where Cannell was officially the first person to sign the pink section of the car. Several others followed suit, signing their names or the names of people they know who have survived or whom they lost to cancer.

Cannell signed her and her grandmother’s name on the top of the trunk of the patrol car.

This is the second year that the State Patrol has brought out pink cars for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The car came to the Grand Valley Thursday night and is one of six in the state.

“It was so popular,” Chermok said. “It turns a lot of heads.”

The State Patrol partners with Grand Valley Oncology — run by the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Community Hospital — to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Oncologist Dr. Jon King said partnerships and projects like this are important because it helps bring attention to the disease and gets people thinking about going in for screenings and mammograms.

“These are important things to do,” King said. “And it’s a good-looking car.”

Chermok said the car will appear at other events throughout the month and anyone is welcome to sign the pink sections of the vehicle.

“We hope to get the whole thing covered in signatures,” he said.


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