The woman behind the pink fire truck

Published On: Nov 09 2013 02:02:47 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 09 2013 02:06:09 PM CST
Fire truck named Nicki

It's a pink fire truck named Nicki. Named after a woman who battled breast cancer and thought she'd won.

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2010," said Nicki Janne. "We though a lumpectomy would get it, but that didn't get it all. So I went with the double mastectomy, with chem and radiation."

But that still wasn't enough.

"I just learned last September that it came back," Nicki said. "And now it's in my bones, which means it's not curable, but it's manageable."

Her journey fighting cancer is ongoing, but that won't stop her and her husband from hitting the road in their pink fire truck.

"The really cool thing about this fire truck is it becomes a traveling memorial," said Nicki. "Cancer survivors and those who lost their loved ones actually get to sign the truck, it just becomes an inspiration and encourages others to keep fighting."

That's the goal. Bring encouragement to women fighting all types of cancer and give them and their families a way to heal.

"When people come up to the truck, it's kind of earth shattering," said her husband Richard, a retired firefighter. "They realize they are acknowledging cancer, that "I have cancer", I'm talking about a survivor. When they get up here and write their name in public, it's exhilarating."

Nicki and Richard have put more than 30,000 miles on the truck, traveling to cities across Kansas and the US.

"I think I've put more mileage on this truck that I ever did in those 34 years driving an actual fire truck," said Richard.

And they've heard a lot of stories that bring tears to their eyes even months later.

"There was this older farmer who was walking around the truck," remembers Nicki. "My husband noticed him and asked him if he was looking for a signature. He said no, but he kept walking around the truck. The next morning he came back and kept walking around the truck. Finally my husband said "is there somebody you need to sign for?" He said, "yes." His wife had died eight years ago from cancer and he couldn't bear to write her name after all these years. He was making a lap for the 42 years they were married. We did finally get him to sign it. And it was such a relief to him after eight years to acknowledge her."

Many times they say people can't quite find the words to say.

"This lady here, she had signed for her mother and she didn't quite know what to write or anything," said Richard. "I said, 'tell me about your mom.' She said, 'well she was always on the go and was a shining example to me.' So I said, 'I have a perfect spot for you.' I had her sign the chrome of the wheel because she was on the go and always shining."

Nicki knew exactly what she wanted to say.

"It's just 'Thank you for the opportunity to let me pay it all forward," she said.

But since her first cancer diagnosis, Nicki has lost her health insurance. Her family and friends are putting on several fundraisers to help this women more focused on helping others.

"My friends are all pulling for me," she said. "I'm thankful for that."

Saturday 9th a fundraiser will be held from 6-10:30 p.m. at Illusions on 1939 E. Diedrich in Haysville. Another fundraiser for Nicki will be held in Wichita on Saturday the 16th at Joe's Oldtown Bar & Grill at 222 N. Washington from 2 till close.

For more about the pink fire truck and where you can see it click here.