Bristol firefighters host Pink Heals, offer support


The winter will soon roll in, and Manny DaSilva will have to learn how to blow dry his children's feet.

It was something their mom used to do, to warm their toes when it got cold.

Sadly, Patricia DaSilva died of lung cancer July 2, and now the Bristol father is raising two young boys, ages 9 and 10, on his own.

"We never saw it coming," he said. "She never smoked a day in her life."

Patricia saw a doctor last December for what she thought was pneumonia. When the illness didn't subside by January, doctors ran several tests, diagnosing the 50-year-old mom April 15 with lung cancer. It had already progressed to stage four.

"We were numb," Mr. DaSilva explained. "We weren't sure if what we heard was what we heard. It was a very, very long day."

The family spent their last months together "normally, enjoying every day," he said.

"Every night we say a prayer before bed, and they talk to their mom in heaven. We talk about her all the time."

Events like last Friday's Pink Heals tour at the Bristol Fire Department headquarters, also helps, Mr. DaSilva said.

"Anything to keep her memory alive, and the support of family and friends, thank God for that," he said, voice quivering.

The Rhode Island Chapter of Pink Heals toured Bristol Aug. 30, ending at the Metacom Avenue station where the public was invited to inscribe epithets on pink fire trucks named after Rhode Island women who lost their lives to cancer: Jenna is a 1990 GMC rescue; Jackie is a 1980 Seagrave ladder truck; Anna is a 2001 Crown Victoria police car; and Susanne is a 2003 Crown Victoria police car.

The Bristol stop was part of the national tour, "Cares Enough to Wear Pink: Guardians of the Ribbon," which started in Glendale, Ariz.

"We're not about any one cause," said Ted Dion, Rhode Island chapter president. "It's about helping her and her family and offering support. We wear pink because it's her color.

"We believe as men that we haven't done enough to support women," he explained, "and we wouldn't be the successful men we are today without a strong woman in our life."

When Bristol resident Kim Levesque was first diagnosed with stage 2 invasive ductile carcinoma in February, she was stunned, yet decided to "put on her big girl pants and fight the fight.

"I've got to take what I was given," said Ms. Levesque, who has three daughters, ages 9, 13, and 17. She wrote words of encouragement on Anna's hood.

"The toughest and hardest thing was when I started to lose my hair," she said. "I did the wig thing for awhile, but it got too hot for that. Then I just took control of the situation and had my husband shave my head. I realized that it's no big deal. It is what it is."

Ms. Levesque is currently undergoing chemotherapy and doctors have told her that her prognosis is positive.

All proceeds raised by the Rhode Island chapter of Pink Heals goes to families in Rhode Island, Mr. Dion said. The chapter also runs a food pantry in West Warwick.

For more information about the Rhode Island Chapter of Pink Heals, go to the website



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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.