SEBRING — Get ready to support breast cancer awareness.
The annual Sebring Professional Firefighters T-shirt sale will begin soon, once organizers have their website ready to take orders. Last year, the sale raised $1,010 for the Knotty Girl Foundation and its education and awareness campaigns.
This year, firefighters hope to double that amount to $2,020, said Sebring Firefighter/EMT and Senior Engineer Anthony “Tony” Perez with the Sebring Fire Department. They have ordered 300 shirts in men’s sizes: small to 3XL, selling for $20 each, through sfdlocal3210.company.site.
“We hope the website will help out a lot,” Perez said.
There will be a small fee if you order online, however. Perez said the cost of the domain name will make an online card payment $22. People can pay by cash or check, however. They can select that option at checkout, Perez said, and pay when they pick up their shirts.
Shirts ordered through Oct. 5 can be picked up 3-7 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Turn2 Brewery, 4496 Tanglewood Drive in Sebring. All proceeds will go to Knotty Girl Loves Inc., Perez said, the non-profit brainchild of Diana Albritton, which works to get the word out on self-examinations.
Albritton, a cancer survivor since 2002, has frequently said that the mammogram missed the first time she had cancer, but she could feel it. Her doctor ordered a sonogram and they found the cancer.
Albritton said financial help from organizations like Sebring Professional Firefighters Local 3210 makes sure she can continue to get out the word, even in trying times. The pandemic, she said, has made getting out in person more difficult.
“Once your immune system is violated, what do you do?” Albritton said of cancer survivors’ vulnerability to COVID-19. “We’re using social media. We’ve had a couple of appearances, but the pandemic has cut those back.”
One of those cutbacks has been the annual retreat, something that she did for cancer survivors to give them time away and to celebrate them for being cancer free. COVID-19 has kept that from happening.
That’s fine, Albritton said. Her trademark is education.
“I need to go back to my trademark: education and awareness,” Albritton said. “We’ll save lives that way, men and women.”
Albritton said there are plenty of ways to make people feel loved as they go through cancer treatments. She still has cards and letters of encouragement that she can take out and read whenever she needs.
She also posts information and messages on the Knotty Girl social media, including “Just Talk with Justine,” a podcast for breast cancer “fighters, survivors, thrivers and supporters.”
Sales and distribution of the shirt will coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in October, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.
The American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast when cells begin to grow out of control. Cancer cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an X-ray or felt as a lump.
Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get breast cancer, too, the American Cancer Society reports.
Most breast lumps are benign and not malignant. Non-cancerous breast tumors are abnormal growths, but do not spread outside of the breast and are not life threatening. However, some types of benign breast lumps can increase the risk of getting breast cancer, the American Cancer Society states, so it’s important to have them checked.
Most people tell Albritton that she doesn’t look like a survivor. Many people don’t “look” like they’ve survived cancer, but it does change people on the inside, she said. It gave her a greater sense of purpose to help others.
“I’m just an average girl doing her job every day,” Albritton said.
For more details on breast cancer, visit “Knotty Girl” on Facebook or the American Cancer Society at Cancer.org.