Cancer support organization comes to Hays County

Pink Heals, an organization dedicated to supporting cancer survivors and patients, was at Central Texas Medical Center on Oct. 19.

Pink Heals, an organization dedicated to supporting cancer survivors and patients, was at Central Texas Medical Center on Oct. 19.

Hays County has gone pink for the month of October.

Pink Heals, an organization dedicated to supporting men, women and children dealing with cancer, was at Central Texas Medical Center Oct. 19, supporting those at the hospital who have survived cancer or are currently fighting it.

Kathleen Chomel, director of the organization's Hays County chapter, said the group also hosted a 5K Oct. 18 and has been visiting cancer patients throughout the county.

“Pink Heals is not about breast cancer,” Chomel said. “Pink Heals is about every cancer. Men, women and children. It doesn’t matter. We don’t discriminate.”

As part of the effort to raise awareness of disease, pink fire trucks tour the nation, visiting those affected by cancer. Chomel said the organization's mission is carried out completely by volunteer efforts, and all the money raised at Pink Heals events stays with the community, except for proceeds from some sales of Pink Heals merchandise, which pays for fuel for the fire trucks.

“The big thing we do is home visits,” Chomel said. “It’s not really about selling merchandise. It’s about visiting people. If you’re sick and your family is going to do a barbecue fundraiser, we will come blaring up into your event. We’ll surprise you—most of the time the family keeps it a secret. These guys get off the truck in their pink gear, hand you flowers, hug you and say, ‘We love you. We’re here to support you, and we hope that our presence draws a bigger crowd to your event.’”

In the Hays County area, much of the money that is raised that is not for a specific cancer patient goes into a emergency cancer fund, which helps people who have been diagnosed with the disease pay for treatment or pay their mortgage or other expenses.

“We don’t care where you give it,” Chomel said. “We just want you to keep it local. We want someone in Hays County, or Travis or Comal to benefit from the money.”

The city of San Marcos contributed an SMFD fire truck to the organization two years ago, and the chapter has also added a police car to its fleet of pink vehicles.

Hays County chapter is one of three Pink Heals chapters in the state of Texas, she said. Chomel said the group is focused on spreading the organization’s mission of encouragement for cancer survivors and those dealing with cancer diagnoses throughout the state. She hopes more chapters will get started.

Chomel said the organization visits cancer patients throughout the year, and they are always accepting volunteers. Those interested in volunteering with the Hays County chapter can learn more about the organization by visiting www.pinkhealshayscounty.org or by contacting Chomel via email at [email protected].