TAMPA, Fla. - For the first time ever, the city of Tampa lit up buildings and bridges in pink, green, and teal Wednesday night for metastatic breast cancer awareness. It's all thanks to efforts by a local mother who lost her daughter to the disease in May.
Robin Bethune made a promise to her daughter Erica right before she died saying she would do whatever she needed to raise awareness about metastatic breast cancer. It's a terminal illness, killing more than 100 women each day, according to the non-profit METAvivor. She's hoping the lights start a conversation about the disease and the need for research dollars to find a cure.
"Those are colors that are very important. They do recognize that breast cancer starts in the breast and that's what the pink is for, but the other colors are very meaningful to metastatic patients," Robin Bethune said.
Metastatic breast cancer is terminal and occurs when cancer cells spread from the breast to other parts of the body. Bethune's daughter died from metastatic breast cancer in May leaving behind her husband and their 6-year-old daughter Isobel.
"I hope she can see it from heaven and I hope she's proud of her mama because I promised her we would not stop fighting," Bethune said.
Bethune sent numerous emails, made phone calls, and tried however she could to get the city of Tampa to recognize the disease on their official awareness day, October 13.
"I know it would mean the world to her. Her roots are in Tampa. Her friends are in Tampa. She loved the city. We've been trying for a long time and this is the first we've made this happen," Bethune said.
It was a proud moment for not just Bethune, but for other mothers like Denise Haynes who lost her daughter to the disease in 2014.
"It means the world to all of us because as Robin said, breast cancer that is very manageable is life-changing no doubt, but metastatic breast cancer is life-ending," Haynes said.
Both mothers hope people will see the lights, discover the meaning and then join the fight to help find a cure.
"I hope anytime anyone hears about a loved one or a friend or someone on television who has metastatic breast cancer that they'll understand that it's terminal. That it's a terminal disease and we need to do something about it," she said.
Bethune says the best way to do something about it is to donate, volunteer, or even just do your own research to learn about the disease. METAvivor is the largest non-profit dedicated to the disease and one of the only breast cancer non-profit organizations dedicating 100 percent of their proceeds to research and only research.