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Pink Heals fire truck inspires those battling illnesses

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ROCHESTER, MN (KTTC) -

It was a sight that was hard to miss. Traveling all over Rochester, Minnesota on Wednesday was a pink fire truck covered in signatures. And with each of those names was a message of hope.

Volunteers with the national cancer awareness organization, Pink Heals, drove one of their pink fire trucks to several Rochester locations.

They also made several home visits, as well as some surprise stops along the way. One person they surprised was Amanda Brandt, who is battling stage 3 colorectal cancer. Brandt was at work Wednesday morning when she saw the pink fire truck pull up.

"It was amazing. It was the surprise of my life. Honestly, the support, the love that I just received was awesome," said Brandt. 

Brandt then signed the side of the fire truck, joining hundreds, if not thousands of people from around the country we have signed it as well.

Accompanying the Pink Heals fire truck during its city tour were members of the Rochester Fire Department. The tour's goal was to show support to anyone battling cancer and other major illnesses.

"It's support. It's getting the word out there that we can beat cancer. We can do it," said Brandt.

Brandt talked about her own battle with colorectal cancer, which was diagnosed in July.

"It honestly didn't hit me until I started going to the appointments. It was scary. It still is scary," said Brandt. "The radiation and chemo have been really rough. Not knowing what's next is rough."

Brandt said she completed six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy on Friday, and will soon schedule a time for surgery. 

After visiting Brandt at her work, the Pink Heals fire truck stopped by Peace Plaza, where more people offered their signatures. One woman there who signed the truck was Ann Marie Mayer, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor.

"I found my mom's signature [on the fire truck], and I'm proud to see that she's 13 years cancer-free," said Mayer. "I was a senior in high school [when she had cancer], so it was hard for me to understand what cancer was and how bad it truly was."

The Pink Heals fire truck then visited Gift of Life Transplant House, where Barb Ness, of Horace, N.D., was visiting her brother, who is battling multiple myeloma.

"Just seeing a vibrant, healthy man all of a sudden have to slow his life down for this -- and I'm going to call it an inconvenience because we hang onto hope that he soon will be back hunting and fishing and doing what he normally does if the stem cell transplant goes as we hope it will," said Ness of her brother.

When asked what her reaction was to seeing all the signatures on the fire truck, Ness replied, "It humbles me. There are so many people touched by cancer that we really have to be aware and support the causes, and hopefully find a cure for some of these, if not a way to help them deal with the disease itself. And everybody is touched by it in one way or the other."

Volunteers with Pink Heals drive their fleet of pink fire trucks and emergency vehicles to communities across the country. To learn more about the organization, visit www.pinkfiretrucks.org.

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