By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

Finding someone whose life has not been touched by cancer is no easy feat.

Area residents saw for themselves Monday, as hundreds filed in and out of the parking lot of the Killeen Civic and Conference Center to see a trio of pink fire trucks and a sheriff's patrol car touring the nation to raise awareness for cancer research.

The Pink Heals Tour rolled into town Monday along with several firefighters and law enforcement donning pink outfits to match their trucks.

Scores of people grabbed permanent markers and marked up the vehicles with the names of survivors, those still fighting the disease and, for some, the names of loved ones who lost the fight.

Saegert Elementary third -grade Teacher Phyllis Riber said it has been 11 years since she has been clear of cancer. She signed a pink fire truck for her uncle Billy Randall, who is suffering from stage-four kidney cancer.

"We fight the fight for him," Riber said.

The Pink Heals Tour is part of a national effort dedicated to raising awareness for cancer during October. Organizations have embraced the color pink originally as a symbol for the fight against breast cancer, that now encompasses the entire range of the disease.

Calhoun County Sheriff's Deputy Steve De La Cruz drove a pink patrol vehicle from Port Lavaca to Killeen for the event. The car has been named Jamie, after his deceased mother, Jamie De La Cruz.

De La Cruz said her loss was indescribable.

"It's happened to too many people in my family," De La Cruz said. "I lost my friend, mother and counselor."

Volunteers from across the nation posed in pink firefighter uniforms with children and adults. Several purchased pink shirts to show their support of the fight against cancer.

Retired Killeen Independent School District Technologist Terry Hefner is in her fourth year of a fight against liver cancer. When Hefner was first diagnosed, doctors gave her 11 months to live. Through regular chemotherapy treatments, she has remained vigilant in her fight.

Hefner's husband, Dannie, said events like the Pink Heals Tour bring heightened awareness to an important issue.

"I just want them to find a cure," she said.

Contact Philip Jankowski at or (254) 501-7553.

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