Throughout the month of October, La Mesa has been supporting Project Pink’d, a charitable, volunteer-powered organization dedicated to helping breast cancer survivors and those diagnosed with breast cancer in Nebraska and Western Iowa. With our special Project Pink’d Margarita, our restaurant is proud to bring awareness to this important cause with the help of Project Pink’d.

What Does Project Pink’d Do for Breast Cancer?

“We are a local organization that appreciates and depends on the partnerships we have in our local community,” says Cynthia Sturgeon, Project Pink’d Founder and President. “Our partnerships enable us to provide programming which helps empower breast cancer survivors to live their best life. By doing that, we help strengthen the survivor, their family, and therefore, strengthen our community.”

Since 2010, Project Pink’d has supported those diagnosed with breast cancer physically, emotionally, and financially by providing them with the resources and local network they need.

“We are local, serving those diagnosed in Nebraska and Western Iowa—what’s raised here stays here,” says Kelly Konen, Marketing Communications Director for Project Pink’d. “It’s the Pink’d movement: real people, real impact, real close to home.”

With programs such as Pink’d Helping Hand, Pink’d Beauty, and Pink’d Renewal, the organization strives to help survivors of breast cancer and those diagnosed with breast cancer stay on top of mortgage payments, medications, insurance, physical fitness, mental well-being, and more. It’s all about security, support, and feeling confident.

“There is something magical about Project Pink’d, and part of that magic is bringing survivors together so they can thrive together,” says Debbie, a thriver and volunteer with Project Pink’d.

Why Did La Mesa Want to Work with Project Pink’d?

About 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, which means breast cancer can hit closer to home than you might think. In fact, our office assistant Cynthia, who’s been with La Mesa since 2011, is a breast cancer survivor.

On Christmas Day in 2008, Cynthia discovered a lump in her breast. “I didn’t think it was cancer, but I knew I needed to get it examined,” she says. In January 2009, she went to see her doctor. After a breast biopsy, her fears were confirmed. At 29 years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I cried a lot,” she says. “I didn’t expect it because nobody in my family had a history of breast cancer.”

It was especially hard for her family to hear the news that she’d gotten breast cancer at such a young age. Her husband was extremely sad but supportive. Her mother, who was in Mexico, flew to Omaha to be with her. Her sister in California called her constantly to see how she was doing.

The moment Cynthia was diagnosed, her doctor scheduled her first chemotherapy treatment. She says the the treatments were very strong, and she did a total of 16 chemotherapy sessions in 2009.

“After my chemotherapy, they said I could either remove the lump or my breasts. There was a 60% chance of the cancer coming back if I kept my breasts, and I didn’t want cancer again, so I made the decision to remove my breasts. I waited a little while because my body was fragile after the chemotherapy, but I eventually had the surgery to remove my breasts and then a breast reconstruction after that.”

Cynthia has been cancer-free for seven years now. She does go to the oncologist every six months to get checked, but she feels very fortunate to have survived.

After hearing Cynthia’s story, La Mesa owner Jose Salazar wanted to get involved with a local breast cancer organization, so he asked her to choose an organization that the restaurant could support during the month of October. “I went to my oncologist, and they gave me some numbers of organizations I could contact,” she says. “That’s how we found Project Pink’d.”

Cynthia is glad that La Mesa is supporting breast cancer survivors, especially because there are a lot of women working at La Mesa, as well as hundreds of women who come to the restaurant each week.

“Sometimes, people think ‘It’s not going to happen to me.’ I thought that because my family didn’t have any history, but cancer affects women, young and old. I’m happy that we’re doing this. I’m happy that we’re involved in spreading awareness.”

How Can You Get Involved with Project Pink’d?

“We continue to grow [with] a pay-it-forward spirit and the belief that supporting local survivors builds stronger families and creates a stronger community,” Konen says.

If you want to get involved with Project Pink’d, there are a few major ways:

Donate: Whether it’s time, funds, or other resources, donations are always accepted.

Participate: Attend an event, host your own, or volunteer at a Project Pink’d event.

Become a Corporate Partner: Like La Mesa, your company can support the organization.

Currently, Project Pink’d is taking applications for the Dare to Thrive Renewal Retreat scheduled for April 2017. This retreat provides breast cancer survivors with tools and a support network that can help them after cancer while the larger five-month renewal program focuses on one-on-one support and addressing everyday life issues that survivors experience after treatment.

Be sure to stop by any of our six metro locations before the end of October to get pink chips and a Project Pink’d Margarita. We will donate $1 to Project Pink’d for every Project Pink’d Margarita sold!


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