What is the Pink Cart?
The pink trash cart was designed exclusively for Infinite Disposal to bring awareness around breast cancer and to raise donations for a local Colorado Springs nonprofit we love called Cowgirls Against Cancer. We believe that by giving back, we can bring people together and make a difference.
Our pink trash cart cost $1.00 more than our regular service per month ($3 per quarter); and 100% of this fee gets donated to Cowgirls Against Cancer. Cowgirls Against Cancer helps Colorado Springs residents with breast cancer prevention and detection, as well as treatment and care after diagnosis. On top of your donation, Infinite Disposal, in partnership with the cart manufacturer, will donate an additional $5 for every pink cart sold to Cowgirls Against Cancer.
All the funds raised through this program stay in our local community and help our neighbors. You can read more about Cowgirls Against Cancer and their mission below. While this may seem like a small contribution for each of us, in numbers we can make a real difference in the lives of people struggling with breast cancer.
How Did This Idea Come About?
The reason Infinite Disposal chose this charity and this cause is because our General Manager Travis Bauter lost his mother to a 13-year battle with breast cancer in December of 2021. Travis had the idea to design a pink trash cart in honor of his mother and her struggle.
Travis wasn’t sure he was ready to open his story to the public and relive some of the toughest years of his life. He was also worried how others may view this, so he sat on the idea for several months thinking of the best way to approach the program. Infinite Disposal and its sister companies make donations to several local organizations each year, so as Travis and the staff were discussing a few organizations they felt would be a good fit for support this year, team member Shaianne Aragon mentioned that we should get involved with a local charity that helps cancer patients by offering pink trash carts to support their cause. The team dove into creative mode to figure out how Infinite Disposal could best benefit this organization. Travis was astonished someone else had the same idea he had been tossing around for months! First thing Monday morning Travis mentioned the idea to our sales team, and they loved it. On the same day he mentioned it to several others, and they all had the same reaction. He knew then he had to make this thought into a reality.
The pink cart was designed over the following weeks to include a ribbon on the lid with his mothers’ initials in memory of her passing.
About Cowgirls Against Cancer
Cowgirls Against Cancer is a grassroots organization that raises funds for people in the Pikes Peak region with breast cancer, or who are at risk of breast cancer. These funds stay within the local community and directly support oncology patients’ needs that are unmet through traditional insurance, and to make day to day life easier. Cowgirls Against Cancer’s goal is to help those today with immediate needs to feel hopeful, strong and in control while they are dealing with this life altering diagnosis.
Patients undergoing treatment receive help with items such as:
- Wig vouchers that suit the individual style and need of the recipient.
- Home-delivered meals prepared based on the individual patient's nutritional needs.
- Mammograms for individuals not covered by insurance or who do not meet standard requirements.
- Help with items such as gas cards to get to and from treatment, lymphedema garments and post-surgical camisoles not covered by insurance, and much more....
Cowgirls Against Cancer is under the umbrella of the Cowgirls Against Cancer will be under the Norris Penrose Legacy Foundation, an accredited 501(c)3. Learn more about their work at cowgirlsagainstcancer.org.
How Do I Sign Up?
Travis’s Mother’s Story in His Words
I grew up in a small town in northern New York and moved to Colorado Springs in December of 2001. I had left my entire family and everything I knew to come to Colorado and create a new beginning. I spent several years here building a great new life. I had a successful career; the future was looking promising. I spent as much time as possible traveling back to New York to visit family and friends. As the years passed, I became busier and each year that passed I spent a little less time at home.
On May 15th, 2008, I received a phone call while at work from my mother. My mother never called me during the day while I was working. I knew immediately something was wrong. I answered and she told me she had just received a diagnosis of breast cancer. To me, this wasn’t possible - this type of thing happens to other people, not my family - besides, my mother was only 45 years old. After hanging up the phone I immediately called my brother. We made a pact that we would keep each other informed of any information we found out as my mother was the type of person who wouldn’t always tell us the whole truth because she didn’t want us to worry. That evening after work I called her and we talked for hours, she was optimistic that she had caught it early on and could beat it. She had just had her mammogram in January and at that time there were no signs of cancer so certainly it was in its early stages less than four months. She had several options but ultimately selected to have a double mastectomy to err on the side of caution and make sure the cancer could not come back. Two weeks later she had the surgery, the doctor was confident he had removed all the cancer. They tested the cells around the removed tissue, it was confirmed, the cancer had been removed but only by a margin of 1 millimeter. She went through several months of chemotherapy to ensure the cancer had been defeated. During this entire ordeal she had still been working, her employer was very generous in giving her the time off that she needed to get treatments.
I remember the phone call she made to me a few weeks after the chemo had begun. She was in the shower washing her hair when large handfuls began falling out, she was devastated. We had talked earlier that week that this would happen, and she said she was ready for it and understood it would be a part of the process. When it happened, it was a different story (in the 13 years she battled cancer this was the single worst day for her that I can remember). She got out of the shower and called her hairdresser to make an appointment. Her hairdresser got her in immediately and began to shave the remainder of her hair. Luckily the stylist was part of an organization that donated wigs to cancer patients. The stylist placed the order to have a wig delivered. A few days later the wig arrived my mother excitedly opened the box and put it on. She ran to the mirror to see her new style. The wig was not what she had expected (after all it was just a donated wig that happened to be lying on a shelf for the next woman who needed a head covering). My mother hated this wig but was so grateful for the donation she continued to wear it for several months because she didn’t want to seem ungrateful. After a few months she couldn’t take it any longer and had come to terms that her hair was gone so she began to wear a bandana. Eventually she was able to get a custom designed hair piece which she loved and wore all the time.
My mother continued her treatments and medication and the doctors continued to check if the cancer had returned, it had not. Doctors told her that 5 years was the ultimate milestone in cancer. If she could survive 5 years without seeing the cancer reappear chances were that it would not come back. Each year that passed without the return of cancer we all became more hopeful that she had won the battle. Her 5-year follow up came and no cancer was found, what a relief we could all breath again. Six months later she began having back pain. She would go to the chiropractor; it would help a little, but the pain never really went away. A few months later she began having severe pain in her chest. She went to the local hospital, they did X-rays, but they couldn’t find anything wrong. Around the same time, she lost her appetite along with 20lbs. She knew something was wrong and went to her private doctor, but the private doctor could not find anything wrong either. Her doctor ordered a bone scan as that is where the problems seemed to be. On December 5th, 2013, the results came back, the cancer had spread to her bones. She was sent back to her cancer doctor who sent her to get two CAT scans the cancer was also in her liver. They again investigated her X-rays and found the pain in her chest was a result of two microscopic fractures in her ribs (probably a result of her weakened bones and the chiropractic treatment). Again, she went on chemo and radiation.
On October 21st, 2014, she was asked to be a guest speaker at a fundraising event for breast cancer. I remember her telling me how terrified she was to speak in front of an audience. The event sold out and filled the capacity of the building (328 people). I told her she would do great, but she insisted she was not a public speaker. The event was a huge success and raised over $31,000 for local cancer treatment. She was asked to speak at several more events over the next few years and was always honored to help raise money for others going through the same issues she was dealing with. During these few years not much changed except she was able to regain her appetite and the weight she had lost. Her bones were a more fragile than normal and she did break a few but was able to manage the pain with minimal medication (she always refused pain medication saying she didn’t want to become dependent on it). In 2015 she went on long term disability and was able to “retire” from work. During the winter of 2017 she was carrying a basket of laundry up the stairs when she tripped and fell up the stairs. She didn’t think much of it as she had not fallen down the stairs and was able to catch herself only a few steps up. The next day she was in a great deal of pain and went in to have more x-rays done, the revealed her fall had broken 2 toes, 3 ribs, her femur, as well as fractured her skull. Still nothing could keep her down she continued life as nothing had happened. Over the next few years, she continued to have hundreds of broken bones from unknown causes.
In December of 2019 the global pandemic of COVID-19 started. At this time my mother locked herself in the house and wouldn’t let anyone except immediate family come visit. I certainly didn’t blame her with all the chemo and radiation she was still receiving her immune system could not possibly fight off another disease. When a vaccine finally came out, she would check everyone’s vaccine card before opening the door to allow them in but at least she would get a few extra guests. COVID was probably the second toughest time for her after the initial loss of her hair because she was such a social person. In August of 2021, my brother called me and said he wanted to hold up his end of the deal we had made when she was first diagnosed with cancer. My mother had been in bed for 2 days because she was in too much pain to get up. They had called an ambulance to take her to the hospital. I told him I would start looking for a flight to get back home, but he told me there would be no point as the hospital would not allow any visitors due to the COVID Pandemic. Even if I could get home, I wouldn’t be able to see her in the hospital.
The hospital found that she had somehow fractured her spine while sleeping. For the next few months, we spoke on the phone every day and she assured me she was doing fine and would fully recover. She told me how much better she was feeling each day. On my way to work November 2nd, 2021, my brother again called me to tell me my mother had not recovered a bit from the fractured spine in August, in fact they were calling hospice to come to treat her in her home. That same day I booked a flight to head back to New York to visit my mother. I arrived on November 7th and immediately went to her home. She didn’t know I was coming so it was a real surprise when I walked in the door. She was lying in a hospital bed in her living room as it was too difficult for her to get in and out of her own bed. To my surprise she got out of bed and came to the dining room with the help of a walker. She spent the rest of the day telling us how well she was doing. When we left that evening, I asked my brother what was going on while she was certainly ill, she didn’t seem to be as sick as he had made her sound. He laughed and said, ‘You know mom; she is putting on an act because she doesn’t want you to worry about her.’ The next day we returned and again she got out of bed and came to the dining room where we spent the day visiting and talking about the past. On the 3rd day we arrived, she laid in bed unable to find the strength to get up. This was the toughest day for me because my mother had always been so strong and had never let the disease get the best of her in front of any of us. When we arrived on day 4 of our stay again my mother got out of bed and spent the day reminiscing the past with us. My wife and I were able to spend a total of 8 days visiting and having a good time with my mother before returning to Colorado. Most of these days were spent with my mother hiding the pain she was in and trying to enjoy what we both knew would be my last visit. For the next few weeks, I would call my brother every morning for an update and then call my mother every evening to visit.
On November 26th, 2021, I called my brother on my way to work and he told me things had gotten worse my mother was starting to get confused and often would start talking mid conversation about a different subject. Well today was my birthday; I was certainly going to talk to my mother on my birthday so I called, we had what would be our last conversation. I am not even certain if my mother knew who she was speaking with on the phone, it was a difficult conversation, but it meant a lot to me. The following day I again called my brother and he again said things had gotten worse overnight and I could call my mother if I liked but he was doubtful she would be able to have a conversation or even hold the phone. I opted to not call for the next few days and received my daily updates from my brother.
On December 1st, 2021, at 2:21am my phone rang, I knew instantly it was the call no one should ever have to receive. I reached for the phone and saw it was my brother, I picked up the call but could not speak. I mustered out a ‘thank you’, and my brother muttered an ‘I am sorry’. That was the extent of the whole conversation my wife rolled over and gave me a hug, we didn’t speak. The following day the arrangements were made, I booked a flight back to New York. I went to the ceremony, but the experience seemed surreal. We walked into the funeral home and the family was given some time with her to say the goodbyes. I made several attempts to make it up to say my goodbyes, but my legs could not seem to find the strength to make it the final ten feet. After the ceremony, we again were given time to say our final goodbye. Again, my legs couldn’t find the strength to walk the last ten feet. I knew if I couldn’t say a final goodbye, I would regret it the rest of my life. Finally, I walked out of the room unable to complete the impossible task. The reason I tell this is simply that I knew then I would regret it, but the fact is I don’t regret it a bit. To me, my mother will live on forever in my memories, and this program is my way of sharing the memories I have of this incredible woman, my mom. I will always love you mom!
Cancer has taken a great deal from my family. Beyond my mother’s story is my grandfather who grew up in a family of eight children. Of the eight children in his family all eight were diagnosed with cancer. Of those eight children cancer took the life of six including my grandfather. Four cousins on his side have had cancer as well. On my grandmothers’ side her grandfather beat breast cancer (yes, a man can get breast cancer), her grandmother, and a cousin both passed away from Leukemia. In 2017 my grandmother was also diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. Currently my grandmother is cancer free and doing well.
The reason I have decided to tell this very personal story of my experience is to help others who may be going through a difficult time. After everything cancer has taken from my family, I know I should be angry about this horrific disease, but the truth is I am grateful. This disease has brought my family closer than it has ever been. Beyond my family this has also brought the community and those who attended events my mother either spoke at or were held in her honor closer together. My intention with this program is to do the same for the community where I live and work.
I would like to end with a quote from my mother’s first public speech in October of 2014 where she spoke about why she never told people how poorly she felt. “If anyone asks how I’m doing, my standard answer is… Good, how are you, and it’s not because it bothers me to talk about it. I wouldn’t be here in front of all of you if I did.” I asked her several years ago what she meant by this, her answer was “People don’t need to hear about my problems, everyone has problems and some of them are much worse than my own. I need to stay positive and continue for those who cannot continue themselves. I am here and I get to wake up tomorrow morning and start everyday new, that is what really matters, what do I really have to complain about.”