Handmade pink ribbon made with dyed coconut fronds by women in the Marshall Islands and Natalie Nimmer, Breast Cancer Hawaii supporter.
Anela Pinho-Hernandez is the proud and loving daughter of a Portuguese Hawaiian father and a Marshallese mother. She grew up in the Marshall Islands and spent significant time in Hawai‘i throughout her childhood. As an adult, she married Big Island boy, Larry Hernandez. Like far too many families, theirs was deeply impacted by breast cancer. Anela’s mom battled the disease through multiple treatments over many years, being served by some of Hawai‘i’s finest medical professionals. Without a cure, though, Anela lost her mom.
Now, Anela is doing everything she can to improve the chances of survival for other women by raising awareness about early screening and treatment, as well as supporting organizations that are taking the battle into the research lab who are searching for more effective treatments and eventually a cure. Six years ago, she founded the Marshall Islands Breast Cancer Society as a way to build more support for survivors and their families. The primary goal is to increase screening in the Marshall Islands where most women only receive a mammogram after the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage.
In the Marshall Islands, there is only 1 mammogram machine
and there is no one in the country to read the scans.
In the Marshall Islands (a group of Pacific Islands, 1,800 miles west of Hawai‘i), there is only 1 mammogram machine and there is no one in the country to read the scans. The scans are sent to Hawai‘i and it takes several weeks for results to be communicated back to the women. This adds more stress, and further delayed diagnosis. The Breast Cancer Society is raising funds to bring a visiting doctor to the Marshall Islands to stage a mass-screening event so more women can be screened, receive their results, and begin treatment. Their hope is that this will lead to earlier diagnosis and improved survival rates.
One of their fundraising projects is to sell pink ribbons fashioned from young coconut fronds. The fronds are boiled, planed, dyed with food coloring, and dried in the sun. The resulting “thread” is braided into bright pink ribbons. Each hand-made ribbon is slightly different, but are all 2-3-inches tall. The suggested minimum donation is $10 per ribbon. The artisans (all women!) were paid $1 each for their labor. The ribbons are lightweight and a standard 50-cent stamp covers shipping. The proceeds ($8.50/ribbon) will be split evenly between Breast Cancer Hawaii and the Marshall Islands Breast Cancer Society.
To order your ribbon(s), please contact Natalie Nimmer (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the number of ribbons you would like and your mailing address. Payments can be made via PayPal (email@example.com) or check (indicate this in your email and Natalie will give you mailing address). Breast Cancer Hawaii is a 501(c)(3) organization and will provide acknowledgment letters to all who donate.
Natalie Nimmer was our guest writer for this post. She is a member of both the Young Survival Coalition's Oahu Face-to-Face Network and the Marshall Islands Breast Cancer Society. She is a survivor of Stage 3 HER-2 breast cancer, diagnosed at the age of 36. She also volunteers as a Peer Navigator for Kaiser Permanente breast cancer patients.