by Deb Seminary

RueAnn Gallagher’s mother is a three-time cancer survivor. Her sister is a survivor, as is her grandmother, a few aunts and cousins. And now, RueAnn.

l to r: Shannon McQuade Ely, Arleen Svalen (mom), Senator Heidi Heitkamp (another survivor), Rue Ann Gallagher, Tammy Gimbel (sister)

l to r: Shannon McQuade Ely, Arleen Svalen (mom), Senator Heidi Heitkamp (another survivor), Rue Ann Gallagher, Tammy Gimbel (sister)

“I caught mine early,” said Gallagher. “Because of my sister I went in and they found something really small. On my first appointment with my oncologist I got a pink scarf and I thought, ‘I want to do something, I want to give back.’ I went to my sister and said, ‘how about pink it forward instead of pay it forward?’ She thought it was a good idea.”

Gallagher said she doesn’t consider herself a survivor. “I have not been through half of the stuff most of these survivors have gone through. My idea was to give gift certificates to have their hair done. My husband took me to a salon a couple days after my mastectomy, I got a shampoo and style and even though I still had stitches and drain tubes, I felt like a million bucks. So I got some gift certificates to Sanford for them to hand out.”

When they started out, they funded everything out of their own pockets. The girls delivered a white bag with a Pink It Forward sticker label on the front of it. Inside was a bottle of water, hand sanitizer – because it is so important to stay healthy during treatment, jolly rancher candy – for the metallic taste that comes with certain injections, hand lotion, lip balm and a chocolate candy bar.

As they began receiving donations from others, they improved the bags and items they are giving to people. “The first bag we came up with is called the Treatment Kit and we have added a nice, soft blanket and a journal, along with the other items,” said Gallagher. “We have a Pajama Pack that includes button-up pajamas and fuzzy slippers and if someone requests a shampoo and style we will include a gift certificate for that. We also have a Warm Wishes Kit, for someone that may be going in for a lumpectomy, just to let them to know they are in our thoughts and prayers. The Warm Wishes Kit is a pink ribbon tie blanket that gets put together during an event we hold in December, called Wine and Tie.”

They are always thinking of more goodies to give, including maid service and maybe something for families, like movie tickets.

The ladies never turn away requests. They have sent kits to several states, including Florida, Virginia and Texas from their home base in Bismarck-Mandan.

To request a Pink It Forward kit to be sent out, contact them through their facebook page, Pink It Forward , or their website, Pink It Forward is a 501c3.To donate, visit their website.

In October, McQuade Distributing sponsored Beer for Boobs, and donated $1.00 for each case of Michelob Ultra sold. They also sponsored a makeover night for a special group of survivors. Pink It Forward received $5903 from McQuade Distributing from the Beer for Boobs effort.