October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to recognize this vital period of information and education, we’ve kicked off a new project — TODAY Paints the Town Pink.
To get things started, on Friday, that meant turning a bright pink spotlight on three people whose lives have been impacted by the disease. These heroes each found their own ways to turn pain and fear into hope and help.
Among them is Angela Baker, a woman from Charlotte, North Carolina, who was diagnosed with breast cancer three times beginning at age 32. She is currently living with metastatic breast cancer.
It was in the midst of her own treatments, six years ago, that she found a path and purpose when she gave another patient a ride to their treatment — a woman she didn't know.
That good deed turned into a passion to help, which led her to create Angels in Disguise, a nonprofit that offers cancer patients transportation to their appointments at no cost. Only she doesn't call them patients. They're "VIDAS," which she said stands for "Victorious, Inspired, Delicate, Angel Survivors."
Her efforts have already helped more than 1,600 people travel a total of 21,000 miles.
As she told TODAY, “Cancer doesn't stop. It doesn't matter if you can't get there.” So she’s devoted her life to making sure people get where they need to be.
TODAY also had the chance to honor Amanda Maggiotto, who’s faced her own repeated diagnoses and rallied back again and again. Now, at 35, she’s four years free from breast cancer, but she’s hasn’t left the subject behind.
Maggiotto is a program manager at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, and she devotes her time to streamlining cancer care for patients, raising money for those in need and mentoring other women living with the disease.
“I do all this for other people in gratitude for my good fortune and my health,” she said.
And lastly, we turned the spotlight to Marshall Moneymaker, a retired firefighter from Rockville, Maryland, who still suits up and gets behind the wheel of a pink firetruck every day. But he’s no longer battling blazes.
Instead, he’s raising awareness about the disease that took the lives of all three of his sisters, and he's offering outreach to others with his nonprofit For 3 Sisters.
“We help people get products, services, financial aid,” he said. “If we can relieve that burden, they're going to heal quicker; they're going to heal better; they're going to heal faster.”
And he feels that his fire truck is still providing important rescue work.
“Much like if I was responding to their house on fire, hey, I'm there to help you, and you're not going to fight breast cancer alone.”