While the city slept last night, dozens of Baton Rouge General volunteers unloaded a truckload of pumpkins. They quietly lugged 7,500 of them to empty fields outside the hospital’s Bluebonnet, Mid City and Ascension campuses for a surprise one-day pop-up.
These are not ordinary pumpkin patches. They are full of rare Porcelain Doll pumpkins, which are cultivated at about 50 farms around the country to promote breast cancer awareness. Their colors seem plucked from this morning’s sunrise: ripe shades of coral, blush, sherbet orange and mint.
Each guest is invited to take home a free pink pumpkin while supplies last, and they can also take pictures at photo opps spread out across the fields.
It’s all part of the hospital’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign encouraging women to “protect their pumpkins” by scheduling an annual mammogram. One in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer over their lifetimes, and a mammogram can detect breast cancer early.
“Breast cancer deaths have dropped dramatically in the past two decades, thanks to better treatment, greater awareness and more women getting mammograms,” said Dr. Everett Bonner, a surgical breast oncologist at Baton Rouge General, in a press release. “But, we can’t get complacent. Most women 40 and over need a mammogram every year, and we want to make it as easy as possible.”
The hospital first introduced the annual surprise pumpkin patch pop-ups in October 2018, though last year’s event was paused due to COVID-19.
“We are excited to bring back the pumpkin patches this year,” BRG President and CEO Edgardo Tenreiro said in a press release, “as it is such an effective way to kick off our Protect Your Pumpkins campaign, engage with the community and have important conversations about breast cancer.”
Because the pink pumpkins are more than pretty Halloween decor. They might just save lives this fall.