Irresistible firecracker Sally Harris of Ocean Grove, is an inspiration in the quest to ensure women get mammograms.

A breast cancer survivor herself, for the past six years Harris has served on the Business Committee of Paint the Town Pink, an annual week-long awareness-building and fundraising campaign in eight cities surrounding Red Pink… err Red Bank as it’s called this time each year.

Sally with husband Norm Harris

Now until Sunday, businesses feature pink window displays as well as special bargains along with dining deals at restaurants.  The towns also paint pink lines on streets.

I spoke with Harris about her efforts.

TBP:  How did you get involved with Paint the Town Pink?

Harris:  I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2006.  I got the call confirming I had cancer in the Home Depot parking lot.  I sobbed and sobbed.

My husband Norm and I went to the computer and got educated.  Norm just dropped everything and was encouraging.  He is a man secure in his own skin.

I sat and cried some more and then we made decisions and moved forward.  You need to cry but you need to move forward.  If anyone can laugh their way through a biopsy, it’s me.

Once I figured out I was going to be able to do again, I wanted to do something for Paint the Town Pink.  You have to do for other people.  It gives you energy.

The monies collected during this event – two or three pennies to a lot more – everything is appreciated.  People give what they can and it all helps the under-insured and non-insured get mammograms.  Last year 250 women were screened at the Women’s Center at Riverview Medical Center because of this event.

Breast cancer is curable if you have early detection.  You have to be proactive.

TBP:  Where did you get your amazing spirit?  You brighten every room you enter and every spirit you touch.

Harris:  I was born with it.  My family was always positive.  I come from a good close family.  Stuff happens but you take care of it and get on with it.  Being a downer is not healthy.  You have to belly laugh at least once a day.

TBP:  You were recognized by the first “Apprentice” winner, Bill Rancic, whose wife Giuliana is being treated for breast cancer.  He also spoke about him and his wife’s “unplanned plan” after her diagnosis.

Harris:  They chose me to get a makeover from pink businesses like Atlantic Health Club, Milagro Spa and Le Papillon clothing store.

Paint the Town Pink is a load of love – very heartwarming.  People coming out of everywhere, to come together to volunteer and raise awareness for breast cancer.  The stores and towns and people are just wonderful.

TBP:  Finally, the eight cities participating have changed to names like “Pinkson” (Rumson) and “Pinkbury” (Shrewsbury).  “Asbury Pink” and “Pink Grove” have a nice ring to it.  How can we help to bring this event to our area?

Harris:  I would love to bring this here.  Email the organizers on the website and who knows what can happen.  It has been wonderful for people up north.

More info at PaintTheTownPink.com.

Happy Mother’s Day to every mom!  Moms are the backbone of the world.