The impact of breast cancer awareness month

As I was designing the October 1 edition of the paper, I had to learn how to turn the pages pink, marking the beginning of breast cancer awareness month.  Some people have begun to believe such special days, months and ribbon campaigns, whether for breast cancer awareness or other issues, have less impact because of their constant use in advertising and promotions. However, my own experience proves the true purpose is to honor those who live with these issues and those who have unfortunately lost their battle.

I have been involved in breast cancer awareness since I was very young.  My family has participated in various walks and fundraising efforts in the hope of finding a cure.  More than that, we have done so as a way to honor and remember my grandmother, Diane Brickner Patton, who died 25 years ago this month at age 49 from breast cancer.  

So, when I was making the newspaper pink, my thoughts naturally turned to my grandmother along with the unique set of circumstances that guided me to a job I love as the managing editor of The Advertiser-Tribune.  I know she would be particularly pleased at the place I have landed to build a career.  

Thanks to my grandmother, my connection to this town goes back generations.  My grandmother’s parents both grew up here with their own parents also being long-time Tiffin residents.  

My grandmother lived in Tiffin when she was young before moving to Upper Sandusky for her school age years.  Eventually, she returned to Tiffin to attend what was then Heidelberg College to study education.

While breast cancer took my grandmother’s life before I was born, one of the many things I have learned about her was how much she loved her time at Heidelberg.  Everything about the school and surrounding town provided positive influences in her life.  She even met my grandfather while attending Heidelberg and they married shortly after they both graduated.

The foundation she gained in Tiffin at Heidelberg helped to mold my grandmother into the giving adult she became.  In fact, the person she became was someone who cared about the lives of each and every person who came through her classroom door as well as all of her family and friends.  I have heard countless stories of how she went above and beyond to help people in any way she could.  

My personal favorite is the story of when she found out the family of a student in her class did not have money to celebrate Christmas.  She anonymously collected toys, gifts and food to help the family and then took my mother and her friends to secretly deliver the items to the family’s front door.  

The stories passed down about her life have inspired me to try to follow in her footsteps by helping others.  I also inherited, among other things, her love of animals and reading.  

Furthermore, her connection to Tiffin led to my mother making sure my family had a subscription to The Advertiser-Tribune throughout my growing years.  This provided my first introduction to the newspaper I now call my work home.  

The important thing to remember is that my story is not unique.  The influence my grandmother had on my life is no different than the millions of other people who have been affected by breast cancer or any of the other issues for which special times are set aside and ribbon campaigns are designed.  

Next time you hear of an awareness day or month or see a colored ribbon, don’t just think of the particular issue it represents. Remember the individuals behind the cause who have impacted the world of those around them the way the life of my grandmother has helped guide me. For all those individuals, I am glad we have awareness times and ribbons.  Please take a moment to honor their fight and remember their legacies.  

Joanna Lininger is the managing editor of The Advertiser-Tribune. She can be reached at jlininger@advertiser-tribune.com.