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By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- Police Officers helping those facing cancer invaded the Channel Islands Farmers' Market, Oct 18, as the "Real Men Wear Pink" came out in force to make a difference.
Attendees bought Oxnard Police Department swag commemorating the effort and posed for a picture alongside the Pink Oxnard Police Department Cruiser.
All the money raised in the effort benefits people living with cancer.
Sergeant Jeff McGreevy said the police department is proud to team up with the American Cancer Society.
"We're doing a fundraiser every Sunday here at the Farmers' Market, and we are doing a lot of events throughout the city," he said. "We are donating 100 percent of the proceeds to the American Cancer Society."
All the money benefits people in Ventura County.
"There are a lot of different services they offer," he said. "A lot of the money is going to go towards research. This is our third year working with the American Cancer Society."
In 2018, the American Cancer Society approached the Oxnard Police Department, and McGreevy got involved because his wife had breast cancer in 2012.
"She's a survivor," he said. "The American Cancer Society was very helpful to us when we were going through that battle. This is a way for us to pay it forward."
McGreevy said the American Cancer Society provided them with fuel cards and donations to get to treatment.
"When my wife's hair fell out, we went and looked at wigs they had," he said. It's an important thing for women when they lose their hair. It makes them feel good, so we utilized those services. There were rideshare services. We also looked at some of their research programs."
Starbucks has been a considerable partner with the Oxnard Police Department, he said, and among the items they sold were mugs donated by Starbucks and pounds of coffee.
"We've been doing some Coffee for a Cause events with Starbucks," he said. "The biggest thing we did this week was on Thursday when I picked up a cancer patient in our pink cruiser. We took her to her chemotherapy appointment at UCLA Health in Ventura."
When they arrived, there was a huge cheering section at the location.
"To be able to do something nice for someone who's going through a terrible battle, that's where it is personally rewarding for me," he said. "It's the second time we did this. There is nothing more rewarding than doing something special for somebody and having friends, family, my partner, and some of the first responders there to cheer her on. It's hard to go to those appointments."
McGreevy took his wive to 18 appointments.
"It's hard because it is not fun to go through," he said.
It's not too late to donate to the effort and do something good for someone who truly needs the support.
"We've got some links on our Facebook page," he said. "We're going to an event in the Oxnard Police Department parking lot from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct 22. At 11:30. I am going to get my head shaved. We're going to have an ice cream social. We have a local company that donated 500 ice cream bars. We're going to have our fundraising table set up, and we're going to have a DJ at 11:30. I'm going to get my head shaved."
Mariella Ruiz had stage three breast cancer, and McGreevy took her to treatment. She recently got declared cancer-free.
"When you're going through treatment, you're in a dark place," Ruiz said. "You're mad at the world and feeling different types of emotions. When he (McGreevy) reached out to me to drive me to my tenth chemo cycle, it feels nice. People like him; he's been through this with his wife, so he understands. It made me feel special, and it made me thrive more. It helped push me forward."
Ruiz and McGreevy stay in touch.
"This year, I wanted to pay it back and help other survivors," Ruiz said. "I'm here to help everybody who goes through this tough time."
When the doctor gave her the all-clear, the first thing she did was thank God.
"I didn't think I'd get to live another year," she said. "I went through a dark time, and I thought I was not going to be here. I was happy and grateful. I cried and was tearful because I was full of emotions. Going back to it now, it's tough to relive it. It's overwhelming."
She had a biopsy done, and Ruiz never thought it would be breast cancer.
"When I found out that I was diagnosed, my doctor called me, and I was at work," she said. "She told me she got my results and told me it was breast cancer. I remember dropping to the floor, and I started yelling and screaming. She said I'm so sorry. I really want you to come in tomorrow."
She thinks the Oxnard Police Department is awesome.
"I'm so grateful that he (McGreevy) and the police department does this," she said. "They put the pink patches on their uniform and their cars. They represent breast cancer proudly."
If you're waiting to hear back about a biopsy, Ruiz said to stay positive.
"Have an open mind," she said. "God is going to be with you and take care of you. He's going to guide you. If it is cancer, it's okay. Take it one day at a time. Medicine is so advanced now, and chemo and radiation are helpful. The process is hard, but you are going to overcome it and be on the other side soon."
Husband Ernan Ruiz said his wife has been in remission since March.
"Cancer doesn't run in our family, and it came out of left field when we found out," he said. "When we got the news, it hit us all at once. We had these resources when we didn't have anywhere to go. Even the wigs and bras they offered, it makes a big difference. It also makes a difference in having someone to call and ask some questions. Now we're out here paying it forward. We're raising money so people will have the resources that we had access to."
Ernan said he and Mariella became more solid after the diagnosis.
"We hadn't been married a half a year," Ernan said. "All our plans for the first couple of years of marriage changed, as far as travel and buying a house. It's made us closer, and I've learned not to take anything for granted. I appreciate every day that Mariella and I have together."
For more information about donating, visit the Oxnard Police Department Facebook page.