Lighting for a Cause: What It Really Means

The following blog post was written by Megan Haas – Philips Color Kinetics

October is a time to celebrate the survivors of breast cancer, and to honor all those whose lives have been affected by it. We support Breast Cancer Awareness Month with pink t-shirts, pink ribbons, awareness walks, and stunning pink illuminations of buildings and bridges. Approximately one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides a platform where these women can find support through awareness campaigns, encourage other women to get tested, and raise money for more advanced treatment options.

Buildings and monuments around the world lit up with Philips LEDs to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. (Photo Credits: Philips)

Philips Color Kinetics, with color-changing light technology, supports breast cancer patients and survivors across the world by transforming our installations into pink beacons of hope. This act reminds women that their fights with the disease are supported by the communities that they live in.

Please join us in honoring the incredible stories of three breast cancer survivors: Lynn Tonks, Barbara Yamamoto, and Laura Renegar.

“The road was long and hard, but I am definitely a better person. I learned some very valuable lessons along the way and I wouldn’t trade my experiences or perspective changes for anything in the world.”

Renegar’s own diagnosis was not her first brush with breast cancer.  Her mother battled the disease, once in 1985, again in 1990, and yet again in 1996, eventually passing away later that year. Renegar, an accounting manager at Primax Properties real estate developers, became an active member in the breast cancer community after her mother’s death. She rallied a group of her passionate co-workers to form a team called the Primax Pink Warriors. The team worked for several years to give back to the cancer community before  Renegar herself was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in March 2011.

Renegar felt extremely lucky compared to her mother. During her mother’s time, breast cancer patients were embarrassed and ashamed of their diagnosis. While breast cancer was once a representation of the loss of femininity, it is now a celebration of the courageous fighters and survivors who have battled the disease.

For Renegar, seeing pink represents an unwavering support system. Pink lights show her that her community stands behind her. “I remember getting texts from my friends with pictures of buildings lit pink,” said Renegar. “I felt like the city was supporting me. I also felt immediate support from the person who thought enough of me to text me a photo. Even being over three years out from my diagnosis, last week when I was in downtown Charlotte and saw the pink glow and the building outlined and illuminated in pink, it made me smile and feel very, very loved. I am not embarrassed to be a breast cancer survivor like my Mom felt back during her fight – but proud to have so much support and thankful to be alive.”

Renegar is a three-year-and–seven-month survivor, and continues to be an active participant in breast cancer awareness campaigns. Her blog ( offers more details to her story.

When Lynn Tonks showed up to her annual physical on her 50th birthday, she never expected that she would be diagnosed with a disease that would impact the rest of her life. After the devastating news, she was left confused, not knowing what to do next.  She turned to her doctors and, trusting their advice, she began treatments. The treatments, ranging from chemotherapy to hormone injections to heart scans, were not easy for Tonks. “I am not a patient person,” said Tonks. “But I pushed forward. It was just part of life, and you can’t go back, you can only go forward.”

Tonks was cleared of breast cancer last year on Christmas Eve, five years to the day since she was diagnosed. It was the best present that she could have asked for.

Tonks works as the receptionist in the Philips Color Kinetics office in Burlington. When she sees pink lights in her community and in her office, it encourages her spirit as a fighter. “When I see the pink on buildings, it makes me feel like a survivor,” said Tonks. “It puts a little blanket over my shoulder. It stands out and makes people stop for a moment and just think about it, and that makes a difference.”

After receiving a routine mammogram in 2012, Yamamoto was diagnosed with stage I breast cancer. Her outlook on breast cancer drastically transformed once she heard the news. “You hear so much about this disease,” said Yamamoto, “but you don’t know and you don’t understand all the details until it happens to you.” Finding the cancer at an early stage gave Yamamoto a positive perspective on her diagnosis. The support of her family, friends, and coworkers gave her great hope. “When you have more support, the outlook is so much brighter and so much more hopeful.”  She was able to continue her job as a customer service director most days throughout her treatment, as she was trying to normalize her life as much as possible.

When Yamamoto sees breast cancer awareness initiatives, she feels a tremendous amount of gratitude toward her own support system, worldwide awareness, and the fact that she is healthy. “In terms of lighting, the pylons (at the entrance of LAX airport) are such a huge deal. They are such a huge landmark, really the welcoming beacon for Los Angeles, so when they are lit pink it brings awareness on such a grand scale. It is terrific that we have this opportunity to spread the word.”

Yamamoto is still attending routine checkups, and she supports local breast cancer awareness walks and campaigns to help spread the message to other women.

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