The Pink Bankshees Shout for Survivors
This is Heather Banks’ second year as a breast cancer survivor and a Susan G. Komen® Colorado Race for the Cure fundraiser. The Pink Bankshees set out this year to raise $3,000. Heather quickly found out she has a lot of support, and due to that support Heather has increased her fundraising goal so she can “pay it forward.”
Heather Banks has prepared to get breast cancer since she was in her 20s. Heather’s mother is a survivor; so is her aunt. None of the women have a BRCA mutation, but family history put Heather at high risk for the disease.
A self-described planner, Heather had mapped out how she would handle a breast cancer diagnosis that she was convinced she would eventually receive.
“I didn’t wish it for me, but the evidence was there,” Heather said.
For more than a decade, Heather rotated between breast MRIs and mammograms every six months. And for years all was well. Then in September 2016, after her annual MRI, she was called back for an ultrasound.
“A mass appeared that was irregular in shape. I knew what this meant,” she recalled.
Tests revealed Heather had Invasive Ductile Carcinoma.
“As much as I was a planner and had prepared, hearing the actual news put me in a spin,” Heather said. “I did not think I’d have cancer at age 44. If anything, I thought I might be in my 50’s like my mom, her sister; my great grandmother was in her 70’s.”
Heather had a bilateral mastectomy, and doctors told her she would not need chemotherapy.
“I’m thankful every day for this as chemo was the most challenging for my mother,” she said.
Even though Heather didn’t face chemotherapy, her recovery had its challenges. She faced several issues during reconstruction, including losing much of the use of her arms for about six months. But Heather remained positive and grateful for life. She heavily leaned on family and friends for support during that time. It was on a walk with a friend that Heather decided she wanted to pay forward her good fortune.
“I’d challenge myself as my strength grew to walk more laps each day,” Heather remembered. “In a conversation, we talked about forming a team for the 2017 Race for the Cure. That became my goal and the start of The Pink Bankshees.”
“The Pink Bankshees are survivors,” Heather noted.
This year, The Pink Bankshees set a fundraising goal of $3,000. Komen Colorado strongly encourages additional fundraising at Race because the money helps fund grants for mammograms, ultrasounds, and treatments for Coloradans who otherwise could not afford to pay for the lifesaving healthcare.
Heather said she her personal connection to breast cancer prompted her to raise money for Komen Colorado.
“I thought about how much it costs for a mammogram, an MRI. Early detection was key for me and could be key for someone else, for my daughter,” Heather said.
The Pink Bankshees have surpassed its original fundraising goal, so the team bumped up the goal to $5,000. And so far, The Pink Bankshees have raised more than $4,100.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t think cancer and what it truly means to be a survivor,” she said. “This is driving me to take action in the fight against breast cancer…If we all come together, we can stop it!”
The 14-member team will be at this year’s Race celebrating Heather’s two-year survivorship and her mom’s 17th year of being cancer free.
Komen Colorado and its partners are grateful for teams like The Pink Bankshees who put their time and talents into raising money toward our local mission and national research.
During this grant cycle, Komen Colorado funding will provide 3,168 screenings, 679 diagnostic tests, and 47 breast cancer treatments. Komen Colorado funded 11 nonprofits that provide these services.