Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 | 2 a.m.
It was in the evening 35 years ago when Mary Beth Scow’s mother called to tell her she had breast cancer.
It was especially significant to her Thursday morning when the county installed pink lights for Breast Cancer Awareness Month on the landmark “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.
“It’s a reminder to women, and men who have women in their lives, to take steps for early detection,” said Scow, one of seven Clark County commissioners endorsing the change.
At 49 years old, Scow’s mother caught the disease early. She remembers the crushing weight of that news and she has lent her support to an initiative to create awareness for breast cancer.
The county hasn’t changed the color of the sign's lights in five years, but did so in an effort to bring visibility to an illness that changes the lives of some 290,000 women each year.
“I think everybody knows someone who has or had breast cancer,” Scow said. “My own mother had breast cancer and she caught it early.”
Catching breast cancer early is a key to successfully combating the illness, Scow said.
University Medical Center is offering free clinical breast exams on Oct. 11. The check-ups are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The lights seldom change, but in this case, the county wanted to leverage the advertising weight of one of its most famous assets to help remind people to get checked.
Thursday evening all types of people visited the sign. As always, there was a constant crowd of people standing, looking, and waiting for their chance to have their picture taken.
Ophelia Monarez and her two daughters were visiting from California, but didn’t catch that the lights were promoting breast cancer awareness.
Her 17-year-old daughter, Cassie, said she wishes hospitals and the powers that be would do a more complete job of informing women how to watch out for breast cancer.
“I inform myself over the Internet but I don’t think they do enough to inform people,” she said.
People continued to file in and out of the landmark site as cars sped by on either side. Couples, tour buses, families and wedding parties with champagne all paid their tributes to the sign as if to usher in its mission of bringing awareness to breast cancer.
And people smiled, laughed and pointed at the pink lights bright in the growing darkness of the evening.