Pink ribbons are the symbol of the battle against breast cancer, and a giant human pink ribbon was formed at noon Friday on the west lawn of the Via Christi Cancer Center.

"The Mount Carmel Foundation has been sponsoring this for a number of years as part of our Paint It All Pink celebration," said Johnna Norton, foundation senior director. "The first goal is to increase awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection methods, and the second is to raise funds for Via Christi Cancer Center."

T-shirt and flower sales also bring in money for the fund, and this year proceeds from the Hospital Picnic 5K also went to the fund.

Norton said that the funds will be used to assist cancer patients with gas cards, nutritional supplements, prescriptions and other needs.

While the campaign isn’t new, Norton said she believed that giant living ribbons, which have been created elsewhere, haven’t been done at Via Christi before.

Dr. Boban Mathew confirmed that.

"We’ve done group pictures before, but this is the first time we’ll form a ribbon," said the oncologist, who wore a pink shirt and took his place in the ribbon.

Small white dots were placed on the lawn to indicate the shape of the ribbon. Michael Hayslip, Via Christi public relations director, and several other staff members gathered on the center roof and shouted down instructions. Jay Gilchrist, vice president of Via Christi mission integration, and Jennifer McDonald, hospital public relations department staff member, directed people where to stand.

One picture was taken showing people’s faces, then rectangles of pink paper were passed out. Those in the ribbon held the paper above their heads for a second photo.

"The pictures will be released to the media and also used by Via Christi Cancer Center in its campaigns," Norton said.

There was even the hope that a photo could be taken from an airplane flying over, but it appeared shortly after the ribbon broke up and participants received their free sack lunches.

Both hospital staff members and those from the community chose to come out.

Lindsey Garrow, RN, said that she and Colleen Farrington, RN, both at Via Christi, choose to take part in Paint it All Pink each year.

"Both of us have done a lot with patients on the floor, Garrow said.

"I do some teaching with patients in their rooms a little to help them understand their needs," added Farrington, who is in nursing education.

Meagan Swafford works at Pittsburg State University and her husband, James Swafford, is employed at the Pittsburg Public Library, but they chose to take their lunch hours to come out to the hospital.

"We are here in support of breast cancer awareness," Mrs. Swafford said. "We’ve had two members in our direct family touched by breast cancer. "This is just a part of community support."

Mathew said it’s good to keep up the awareness of the disease, which will probably be diagnosed in one out of every eight women at some time in their lives.

"Breast cancer does not occur in one month or one week," he said. "Screening occurs year-round, and early diagnosis is the best way to improve the cure rate."