you know has breast cancer - the second most common type
of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related
death in women.
of eight women you work with, socialize with, worship with.
Statistics say one of them will develop a tumor in her breast.
Statistics say of those who do, one will die every 13 minutes.
Startling information, frightening facts, disturbing numbers
- details to be responded to intellectually and then promptly
relegated to shadowy corners of the mind where they will
not be so likely to distress.
that eighth woman turns out to be someone you love - and
the reality takes on bold and forbidding contours. That's
what happened to Bill Simrell and his family.
cancer ceased to be simply the whispered cause of death
of Simrell's paternal grandmother - the dreaded "disease
that women get" that took the life a mother still raising
six sons and daughters in 1923 - and suddenly became much
more immediate, much more personal and much more devastating.
time the diagnosis came to the young mother of two preschoolers,
the young wife of a local businessman, the young daughter
of Simrell's best friend.
eighth woman was Mrs. Tab (Beth Cartwright) Ross.
known other women in my lifetime that have gone through
treatment for breast cancer, but this was my best friend's
little girl - the same little girl that grew up with our
children, the same little girl that went on family vacations
with us. I'd heard breast cancer only happened to older
women and Beth is just in her mid-30s," Simrell says.
word spread of Beth Ross' diagnosis last August, Simrell
found employees working at his family company - Jiffy®
Steamer - had their own stories to share. Their "eighth"
women were their own mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters
and best friends. It seemed no one was untouched by the
scourge - even men. Fifteen hundred of them will be diagnosed
with breast cancer this year in the United States.
turned the awareness light on for our family-owned company,"
says Simrell. "On Oct. 25, as we were learning what
Beth had gone through in 22 hours of surgery to remove the
tumor and reconstruct her breasts at Vanderbilt Medical
Center in Nashville, we were also moving toward a commitment
to help in the fight against breast cancer."
and his stepson, Clint Joiner, who is project manager for
Jiffy® Steamer, decided their weapon of choice in the
breast cancer war would be their own product - commercial
and home steamer units for clothing care, sold in all 50
states and 45 foreign countries.
time I called my friend Bob Cartwright to ask what I could
do to help while his family was going through this hard
time, he would say, 'There's really nothing.' I felt helpless.
Then when we found out the stories coming out of our own
company, it all came together. We have decided to produce
a garment steamer product
line in pink, because pink is the color of breast
cancer awareness. Every time a pink steamer is sold at retail
we will donate 10 percent of the retail price to fighting
breast cancer," Simrell says, noting that 75 percent
of the company's customers are women.
battle will begin on the home front - in the place where
Beth Ross grew up and is raising her own son and daughter.
first donations will be directed toward the funding of free
mammograms for women who cannot afford them in Obion County.
Simrell and Joiner are attempting to partner with the Obion
County Cancer Agency, which provides funding to help cancer
patients in this area meet expenses associated with their
illness and its treatment, in order to implement this program.
They also have an agreement with the Woman's Clinic and
Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City to provide mammograms
and valuable diagnostic services at discounted prices in
order to make their donated dollars serve as many women
The pair are thinking big. Once the new pink
line of Jiffy® Steamers is adequately serving
women in Obion County, funds will be put to work in adjacent
communities, then across the state and throughout the nation.
want the dollars to be used directly on mammograms, ultrasounds
and stereotactic biopsies, not on administrative costs,"
Simrell says. "There may be some wrinkles in our plan,
but we'll 'steam' them out," Joiner promises with a
new "pink line"
will feature four models of the steamer to meet the needs
of travel, commercial and residential customers. The familiar
breast cancer awareness ribbon will be featured in the logo
on each steamer.
who are supplying the raw materials necessary to help Jiffy®
Steamer produce the new product line are excited by the
concept behind the steamers as well and are already vying
for a chance to buy the first ones ready for shipment.
Simrell says he hopes to be able to begin selling those
first models to walk-in customers at his facility at 4462
Ken-Tenn Highway near Union City and through the company's
Web site at www.jiffysteamer.com by early December 2005.
The first unit, of course, is earmarked as a gift for Beth
believe we need to spread the message of awareness. That
has the potential to touch families everywhere. Early detection
that mammograms can provide is so important in defeating
breast cancer," Joiner says.
cancer, along with any cancer, is a terrible thing that
no one should have to go through," says Beth Ross.
"Breast cancer is an incredible burden on the person
diagnosed as well as family members and friends. Tab and
I have been truly blessed by the support of our family,
friends and our community. We consider ourselves very fortunate
to live in Obion County.
something like this strikes in your life, you ask yourself,
'How will I deal with this and what good can come out of
this?' My first answer is obvious and it precedes the second:
You put your faith in God and you gain strength from others'
kind words, thoughts and prayers. Second, you ask God to
reveal His plan. I can honestly say that the Simrell family's
decision to make a Jiffy® Steamer that identifies itself
with the breast cancer's signature pink is a result of what
happened to me.
Simrells are closer than friends; they are family. They
felt a calling to do something to make a difference. The
money that this household staple will generate will make
a tremendous difference in others' lives. "Do I think
that this would have happened had I not been diagnosed with
breast cancer? My answer is, 'No!' "Is this plan to
launch a new steamer to benefit breast cancer part of God's
plan? I don't think so, I know so! "Thank you, all
the members of the Simrell family, and the employees of
Jiffy® Steamer for allowing me to participate in something
so special," Beth Ross adds.
daily success of the "pink line battles" will
be posted on the Jiffy® Steamer web page at www.jiffysteamer.com
so everyone can get up-to-the-minute information on the
number of dollars designated for the cause.
want to see this happen. We're committed to a proactive
approach. There won't be a cap on our commitment and there
won't be a time limit on sales. We're in this for as long
as the company lasts," Simrell pledges. He has, at
last, found a way to help his friend and that friend's daughter
- the eighth woman.
are many who feel, as they identify more and more "eighth
women" in their circle of acquaintances, that the enemy
may be stepping up the attack. But so are those who are
fighting back. One pink
Jiffy® Steamer at a time.
American Cancer Society suggests every woman over the age
of 40 should receive an annual mammogram as a first line
of defense against breast cancer. Local gynecologist Dr.
Robert Cameron of the Woman's Clinic adds a caveat: If a
woman's mother had breast cancer at a young age, that woman
will be at an increased risk. If the mother was diagnosed
at age 40, then her daughter should consider beginning her
own mammograms at age 30 - just back it up 10 years from
the time of the mother's diagnosis, Cameron says of that
important first mammogram.
will pick up nine out of 10 breast cancers and that makes
them valuable tools in the battle, but breast self-examination
every month right after the end of a woman's menstrual period
is also essential, says the doctor Beth Ross turned to for
a diagnosis when she first felt a lump in her breast. "All
women over the age of 20 should learn BSE and perform it
monthly," he advises.
breast examination by a doctor or nurse every year is recommended
by the American Cancer Society for those 40 and older, with
a three-year cycle suggested for women from 20-39 years
genes have been identified as genetic carriers of cancers,
according to information provided by Cameron. "If there
is a strong family history (mother, sister, grandmother,
aunt) these women should be considered for special genetic
testing for the gene mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2. By the time
a woman carrying this gene reaches the age of 70, she is
entertaining an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer
and a 44 percent risk of ovarian cancer. Those inheriting
the BRCA2 mutation face about the same radically high risk
of developing breast cancer and also an increased risk of
suffering from ovarian cancer. The mutation can be passed
through either parent and the occurrence of the diseases
that are linked to these mutations usually occur fairly
early in life. The average age at diagnosis is 45 years
old, compared to 64 years for breast cancer not related
to the mutations."
Cartwright Ross and her family
MAKING A DIFFERENCE - Beth (Cartwright) Ross and her family
are involved in a fight against breast cancer, a disease
that affects one in every eight women and struck the young
Union City wife and mother earlier this year. Recently Mrs.
Ross, her husband, Tab ( at right) and their children, Walker
and Emma, learned that family friends Bill Simrell (second
from left), partner in Jiffy® Steamer, and his stepson,
Clint Joiner (at left), Chief Operating Officer for the
company that produces the commercial and home steamer units,
are ready to unveil a new line of steamers in the breast
cancer signature pink color. Ten percent of the retail sales'
price earned on these special units will be directed toward
testing for early diagnosis of the devastating illness.
The units will be available in early December 2005 at the
Jiffy® Steamer facility at 4462 Ken-Tenn Highway near
Union City and through the company's Web site at www.jiffysteamer.com.