The Pink Ladies: Local survivors create flower arrangements for others with cancer

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By Sadie Hunter

Slighty drowsy flowers are often either overlooked at the grocery store or replaced by staff with the freshest and newest bouquets. But what happens to the old ones?

Beginning early this summer, a small group of women from Noblesville’s North Harbour began working with the Kroger grocery store at 146th Street and Hazel Dell Parkway at Hazel Dell Crossing. The store donates all of its older flower bouquets to the Pink Ladies.

“It took a couple of months to get it up and running, to get everything OK’d through corporate Kroger,” said Linda Franck, a Pink Lady. “They’ve just been amazing.”

Organized in 2008, the Pink Ladies began as a women’s support group for cancer survivors.

But this year, on June 30, the Pink Ladies started its “Making a Difference” initiative to deliver flowers to cancer patients in area hospitals and assisted living facilities.

“We also give to the nurses station to keep them going,” said Pink Lady Stephanie Reed. “It’s not an easy place to work.”

“Many of the people we deliver to are bed-ridden or hardly ever get out,” Franck said.

But they don’t only pick up the flowers and deliver them. On each alternating Tuesday since the Making a Difference program took hold, a Pink Lady donates the space of their garage to repurpose the bouquets into arrangements in vases.

Some of the Pink Ladies also hold membership to the North Harbour Garden Club, but when it comes to flower arranging, they are are mostly amateurs. Over the summer and fall months though, the group has honed in on the skill to make vibrant, unique arrangements.

“They usually last a good week or more, so there’s still life in these flowers,” Franck said.

The Pink Ladies meet on the last Thursday of each month at Harbour Trees Golf Club inside the North Harbour subdivision.

“It started out as a North Harbour group and grew from there, and now we have spread out all over the Noblesville area,” Franck said.

“All the Pink Ladies have had some type of cancer,” Franck said. “I’m a breast cancer survivor. Steph, she had (Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma). Janet and Phyllis both, Phyllis had thyroid cancer. Sue’s had breast cancer. We’ve all been there.”

Meeting just once a month for approximately seven years, the Pink Ladies say they’re happy to be able to spend more time together.

“This project has made our group closer. Getting together one time each month, we’re not talking a lot, but this is getting us closer together (biweekly),” Franck said.

Through the group’s work, patients and staff of Riverview Hospital and area assisted living facilities alike have come to expect flowers twice each month, particularly after harder days, like after chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

Franck said this winter, because of weather, she’s not sure if the group will continue its work for lack of large enough climate-controlled working space.

“I know when it’s really cold, it’s hard to take flowers from the store into the cold air and back indoors,” she said. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do through the winter. We transport them in the car, and our garages aren’t heated. We’re just going to have to play it by ear. We hope we’ll be able to continue. If not, worse comes to worse, and we’ll pick it back up when the weather warms up.”

So far in 2015, the small group of less than a dozen women have raised more than $2,500 for cancer research. Now, the Pink Ladies churn out more than 40 flower arrangements each time they meet.

“Everybody loves flowers,” Franck said. “If you get a flower in your hand, you’re going to smile.”

For more about the Pink Ladies and their work, call Franck at 317-877-5385.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 2008—Year the Pink Ladies began
  • 40+—Flower arrangements made each alternating Tuesday in just 90 minutes
  • 3—Facilities the Pink Ladies deliver to
  • 8 to 10— Pink Ladies who help arrange flowers
  • 200+—Flower arrangements made since June 30
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