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VALPARAISO — Ann Peters watched over the sea of Porter Regional Hospital employees holding pink pinwheels Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking in the lobby of the hospital, Peters, 75, is a 41-year breast cancer survivor. She is also the founder of the Pink Ribbon Society.

The hospital's "Blow Away Breast Cancer" event Wednesday, was important, she said, not only as a reminder that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, but that women need to take care of themselves and have their annual screenings.

Peters, of Crown Point, was diagnosed with stage 2 metastatic breast cancer in February 1977.

"In those days, they sent you home on a wing and a prayer," she said, adding she was 33 years old, had a husband and two young children.

"I had something to live for," said Peters, adding, after surviving, she felt she had a responsibility to pay it forward and founded the society, which assists women with breast cancer and their families with anything from helping pay for wigs to funds for screening and diagnostic mammograms.

"Prevention is still the best," she said.

Prevention and reminding women to take care of themselves, said Peggy Banks, breast navigator and patient oncology coordinator at the hospital, is why they created the "Blow Away" event four years ago.

A pink flag, sporting the breast cancer awareness ribbon, was raised in front of the hospital on U.S. 6. Had Wednesday afternoon's weather cooperated, those attending would have planted the pink pinwheels on the hospital's lawn. Some did plant the pinwheels following the event despite the continued rain.

"We want to bring awareness. When they pass by on the highway or come in, they will see the flag and the pinwheels and that will bring awareness for them to get their mammogram. Early detection is the best course," Banks said.

Sean Dardeau, market chief executive officer for Porter Health Care System, read a proclamation kicking off the event, reinforcing the hospital's commitment to its patients in the battle against the disease.

Courtney Trevino, a radiology technologist, closed the event by singing "Dressed All in Pink," penned by a breast cancer survivor.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.